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.”
(By the way, I highly recommend reading this powerful piece about gardening as a form of political activism and rebellion, as well as this one, about how growing food is our greatest protest).
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.
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I love that you are talking about difficult topics. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading 🙂 found you through the Ultimate Bundles and I’m happy I did!
Thank you so much for your support!
As Anna’s Assistant, I can honestly say that the support of you and others is what keeps us both here!
You talk about the system. What is the system that you are against? I want to know what in the system you are protesting about.
The industrialized food system, big AG, big pharma, unfair laws that dictate who can grow food where and how, that dictate what type of food you’re legally allowed to purchase and what you’re able to do with your own property, the system that consistently puts profits before people and aims to keep people dependent on outside resources while simultaneously making them unhealthy, systemic racism that exists in every part of our system (ie. food, legal, housing, etc.), the system that always puts the economy first while health and the environment come second (if at all), and so on. Basically, I don’t agree with how our current world is being run or with the direction it’s headed in. I feel that the systems that have been put in place and established over many, many years work to benefit the few at the mercy of the many, and I see homesteading as something that I can do to effect positive change by not buying into of these systems. While I’m certainly nowhere near perfect, and I know that no one person is ever going to change the world, that doesn’t mean we can’t take small actions toward the kind of world we want to live in. This is the philosophy I live by and it’s why I show up here consistently and encourage others to take small actions to effect big change in their own lives and in the lives of others too. There are too many problems in this world for me to devote myself to all of them, so I’ve had to choose my “hill to die on,” so to speak. Food, sustainability and breaking free of oppressive systems through everyday actions are what guide and motivate me to live this way, and to teach and inspire others to do the same.
I appreciate so much your open stance in support of important movements in society right now! I am also very moved by your explanation of homesteading as an act of protest, something that can change our country. Reading your blog, recipes, and canning safety today have been very inspiring and I look forward to following your homestead.
Thanks Anna! It’s not always easy to do the right thing but even with my tiny little platform in the homesteading world, if I can use my voice or make even a small difference then it’s my responsibility to do so. Welcome! Glad you’ve found my little corner of the Internet:)
Thank you for speaking up in support of Black Lives Matter. I think we all have our roles and a part to play in working towards a more equitable and ethical society. For my family, it’s anti-racist parenting, supporting BIPOC-owned local businesses, donating to causes that support BIPOC communities, and participating in local/state/national politics.
That said, I would like to point out that the marches and protests happening around the United States (and around the world) have already led to meaningful changes such as arrests of officers, investigations into deaths by police, and local policy changes, as well as bills in the works at the national level to curb police brutality. They have also brought to light concerns about erosion to freedom of speech, right to assembly, and freedom of the press.
Marching or protesting isn’t the only way to make a difference, isn’t the best fit for lots of people, and you don’t have to make excuses or justify why you aren’t participating in a protest. There are so many other ways to make a difference! However, the final quote you included by Finley seems to discount the huge amount of good protest can do. I don’t think this was your intention, but just wanted to mention that that’s how I interpret it.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences!
Thank you for such an insightful comment. You’re absolutely right, the protests have led to some real change as of late and that makes me so proud of everyone out there doing their part.
I could see how my words (or quotes that I shared) could have been misinterpreted to mean that protesting isn’t as effective as gardening (since that’s pretty much what the last quote said). I should maybe add a note at the bottom to include the fact that these protests actually have been very effective.
For me, the point is just that there are many things we can do to protest that which we stand against. But to make it clear, I absolutely do think protesting is effective as it puts pressure on authorities to make meaningful changes.
Thank you again for joining the conversation!
Thanks so much for your clarification! I just discovered your website and instagram, and have really been enjoying it. I love your message of starting where you are, and completely agree that gardening is one amazing and wonderful way to contribute to the community and protest unsustainable established systems in these uncertain times. I very much appreciate the time and effort you take to share your knowledge and experience with others.