Growing Food is My Form of Protest
“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do. Plus you get strawberries.”
– Ron Finley
In light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests across the US and around the world, I’ve been thinking a lot more about where I stand, what I stand for and what form my activism takes.
Just to make it perfectly clear, I stand with the Black Lives Matter movement, and if I lived in a city where protests were happening, I’d be out there marching for change too.
But protesting is about more than taking to the streets with signs and megaphones. It’s about the choices we make in our everyday lives.
It’s about who (and what) we choose to support with our dollars.
It’s about how we use our voices AND what we say when we speak.
It’s about questioning the system and the status quo, and taking meaningful action to resist the parts that are corrupt and broken.
From the systemic racism that permeates all facets of daily life for people of colour, to the corporate food system that’s keeping all of us sick and dependent, we can take small but meaningful steps every day to protest against systemic oppression, corporate greed, political corruption and abuses of power in all forms.
I already talk a lot about the importance of self-reliance in this day and age when the vast majority of us are simultaneously reliant on and trapped by this system. And of course when we talk about self-reliance, the first thing that usually comes to mind is growing and raising your own food.
(Do you see where I’m going with this?)
Growing Food is A Form of Protest
You see, homesteading and growing food is my form of protest. At its core, this is my reason for homesteading. It’s the “why” that keeps me going day in and day out, even when it would be easier to just get take out and call it a day (and yes, that does still happen from time to time… I’m only human!)
I know there are some people who think that my taking a stand with the Black Lives Matter movement has nothing to do with homesteading, and that I should leave “politics” out of it. But, you see, homesteading is political in so many ways.
Every time I talk about the broken food system, that’s a political statement.
Every time I stress the importance of being self-reliant and “taking your power back,” that’s a political statement.
Growing food is about more than just sustenance. It’s a powerful act of rebellion against the status quo.
It’s also why I’m so passionate about teaching others how to grow, prepare and preserve food too. Because the modern homesteading movement is just that; It’s a movement that’s so much bigger than just me or you. And the more people that pick up a shovel and start planting some seeds, the closer we get to disrupting the system and effecting real, positive change.
This excerpt from an article on medium.com sums it up nicely:
“This is real action, it is very effective, and as it becomes more mainstream to set up gardens in your yard and on your block, we will witness the re-emergence of the kind of society we just cannot create by playing by the rules of a rigged system.”
Overgrow the system, one homegrown vegetable at a time
We’re at a pivotal moment in history right now where everything we do (or don’t do) is a political statement. Homesteading, homeschooling, marching in the streets, speaking up for human rights, not saying anything at all…
My grandfather used to say that “the air we breathe is political.” So too, then, is the soil we plant in.
At the end of the day, it’s much easier to just write about how to grow a bumper crop of tomatoes or share my recipe for homemade strawberry jam. But beneath it all is an undercurrent of political activism that’s inseparable from the modern homesteading movement.
It’s not necessarily about “right” vs. “left” politics though. It’s about the people vs. the power; The David vs. The Goliath.
Modern homesteaders come from all sides of the political spectrum, but we tend to have one big thing in common: we all believe in the core values of freedom, independence, self-reliance and self-determination, and in the importance of growing our own food as a form of personal empowerment.
Since the murder of George Floyd that sparked the most recent set of protests, I’ve run the gamut of emotions from anger to sadness to hopefulness and also hopelessness at times. But more than anything, I’m fired up and feeling more motivated and inspired than ever to live a life that’s in line with my values and that takes some power away from “the system” and puts it back in the hands of the people.
Every homegrown vegetable; Every jar of homegrown food; Every loaf of homemade bread, even, is a small act of resistance. But those small acts add up, and if enough people join the movement, we’ll eventually hit critical mass. That’s when real change happens.
Make no mistake: growing food is one of the most influential forms of political activism there is, and at its core, that’s what the modern homesteading movement is all about.
To quote the great Ron Finley once more:
“I had sixty people putting in an urban garden while you all were marching. Now who do you think was more effective?”
Edit: I just want it to be known that in no way is it my intention to diminish the importance or effectiveness of protesting in the streets. Protests have been the driving force for so much positive change throughout history, and their effectiveness should not be underestimated. I have the utmost respect for everyone out there fighting for change, regardless of whether that fight is taking place in the streets or the garden or anywhere in between.
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