6 Ways to Promote Self-Reliance In Your Community


Self-reliance isn't just about being able to provide for yourself with your own two hands. Your own self-reliance is intrinsically tied to the larger world around you. Learn how to promote self-reliance in your community and, in turn, support your own security and self-sufficiency. #selfreliance #supportyourcommunity #foodsecurity #selfsufficiencySelf-reliance isn’t just about being able to provide for yourself with your own two hands. Your own self-reliance is intrinsically tied to the community and larger world around you. Learn how to promote self-reliance in your community and, in turn, support your own security and self-sufficiency by making conscious choices about where and how you spend your time, money and resources.

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Ah, self-reliance. It’s so, well, self-centred. Not in a bad, narcissistic sort of way. But in the sense that it’s often depicted as living alone in a cabin in the woods, off-grid and far away from society, living completely off the land and producing, hunting or foraging for everything you need, enjoying the complete freedom and solitude that such a lifestyle affords. 

We rarely equate self-reliance with dependency on other people. After all, the definition of self-reliance means to rely wholly on your own skills and resources without needing help from anyone else to provide for your own basic needs. And while that might be a nice thought, the reality is that self-reliance looks nothing like that for most people. In fact, I’d venture to say that complete self-reliance is a myth for just about everyone.

While I love fantasizing about living alone in the woods, far from civilization, the reality is that it’s tough if not impossible to be 100% self-reliant without depending on any outside sources for anything else. Even Ma Ingalls had to go to town for flour and sugar and coffee that she couldn’t grow herself!

And even if you do manage to produce 100% of what you need to live all by yourself from your own land using nothing but your bare hands, you’re still affected by the health of the environment and the community around you, as well as by the politics, laws and regulations in your area. No one exists in a bubble, whether we like it or not.

The good news is, you can actually support your own self-reliance by supporting self-reliance in your own community. Because while we can’t do and produce everything we need by ourselves, when we support our local communities, we reduce our overall dependency on goods and resources that have to be shipped in from far away via large, faceless corporations who put profits over the health and wellbeing of the people and communities they’re supposed to serve.

So today I want to touch on six different ways you can promote self-reliance in your own community and, in turn, support your own self-reliance. 

Of course, there are more than six things you can do to get more involved in your own community. But these are good starting points. Still, I encourage you to add to the list in the comments section below so let me know what other suggestions you have! 

Related: 25 Self-Sufficiency Goals to Set and Smash This Year

Six ways to promote self-reliance in your community

1. Support your local farmers

This is something I’m really passionate about. Even though we grow a lot of our own food, we still don’t produce our own meat, eggs or dairy, and we certainly don’t grow everything we eat on our little homestead. Far from it. 

Luckily where we live there are tons of small-scale organic farms, a widely-renowned year-round weekly farmers market and a community of like-minded people passionate about sustainability and food security in our area. And obviously as a homesteader, food security and sustainability are also very important values of mine (and I hope yours too!) So what we don’t grow ourselves, we try to source locally if possible.  

Of course, this isn’t always possible with everything, and it’s not always the most affordable option. But I know firsthand that growing food (the sustainable, healthy way) is hard work, so I try to buy local as much as possible and give my money to our wonderful local farmers rather than to the Walmarts and Superstores in our area whenever I can.

I believe we vote with our dollars, and that we should (whenever possible) support small farms and farmers who have the same values and vested interest in our communities that we do, rather than a faceless corporation that makes it hard for local farmers to compete.

By purchasing from your local farmers, you’ll be helping keep them in business and also ensuring that your whole community (including you) has some level of food security (and is therefore self-reliant) should something ever happen where the grocery store shelves are bare and you have no access to outside food sources.

Where we live on Vancouver Island, this is a very real possibility that a major Earthquake or other large-scale disaster prevent the boats from running back and forth between here and the mainland. If that happened and we were on our own, we would need to rely only on what we were able to produce here on the island. So while you might grow your own food, your neighbour might not, and lest you want everyone banging on your door in the middle of a disaster, supporting local farmers in your area will help to ensure both your family AND the other members of your community have access to good, healthy food in both good times and bad.

You can support local farmers by: 

  • buying direct from them (a great way to stock your freezer is to place bulk meat orders directly from a local farmer in your area) 
  • shopping at your local farmers market 
  • purchasing local foods from the grocery store or asking for local, organic food (grocers will listen to customers when enough of them ask for something)
  • investing in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program in your area

2. Shop/buy local

While I think farmers deserve a mention of their own on this list due to the specific importance of food security, I also think it’s important to support all local artisans, services and businesses whenever possible for many of the same reasons as I listed above.

Maybe do your Christmas shopping at a local craft fair. If you don’t make your own soap or candles or clothes, consider purchasing from someone local instead of from the mall or Amazon. And even if the thing you’re after is a brand name item, you can still order it through a local store so that you’ll be supporting your local economy and keeping people employed in your town. 

As an example, I got my daughter a Lego princess castle for Christmas this year (Shhh! Don’t tell!) But instead of ordering it on Amazon (the default method of shopping for many of us nowadays), I got it from our local toy store. And guess what… It was actually CHEAPER than the Amazon price!

Honestly, even if I did end up paying a few dollars more, it would be worth it just to know that my money was going to support a local business instead of becoming a drop in the bucket of Jeff Bezos’ multi-billion dollar fortune. 

Remember, we vote with our dollars!

Plus, if you have your own local business or goods or services to trade or sell, this is also a great way to make connections in the local community and advertise through word of mouth (or even find people to trade with!). My husband and I have actually sold many of our local handmade items like candles and custom carpentry pieces in other people’s local stores because we originally went in to buy something ourselves and made a connection with the store owner. We’ve also traded goods many times at local craft fairs we’ve set up at.

3. Volunteer/Teach your skills

You can further support your community members and your community’s overall self-reliance by volunteering and/or teaching your skills to other people. I’m a firm believer that we’re all better together, and that when others are more self-reliant, we support our own self-reliance and security because there are other capable people who are able to support themselves and contribute to the community. Ya know, hence the old saying “give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.”

You could volunteer at a local community garden or a school where you help others learn how to grow, cook and prepare their own food. Or you could host free or paid classes at your local community centre and teach cooking, crafting or homesteading skills or even things like home economics, natural health, preparedness and financial literacy to other members of your community. Any of the above things could help to increase the self-reliance of others in your community which benefits you as well (and could even be another source of income). Plus you’re likely to make valuable connections with other people and learn new skills yourself while you’re at it!

4. Get to know your neighbours

This one sort of sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s a little shocking how many people don’t know their neighbours nowadays. And even though us folks who live rurally tend to live farther away from each other (geographically), I can say from experience growing up in the city that it’s even more common not to know your next door neighbour (or the guy who lives in the apartment on top of you) when you live in an urban environment.

Nevertheless, no matter where you live, it would behoove you to get to know your neighbours and foster positive relationships with them.

Even if you’re a bit of an introvert (like me), try to push yourself out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself, invite your neighbours over for a drink or dinner, or simply chat in the lobby of your apartment building if that’s all you can do. Once again, doing this opens doors and allows you to make connections with others who you could trade goods, skills or simply create good friendships with. 

Plus, if ever there is a disaster or emergency in your area, you and your neighbours may have to rely on each other, so getting to know each other AND if possible getting to know what skills and resources each person/household can contribute beforehand will help increase your overall preparedness and self-reliance and make responding to a crisis just that much easier if and when disaster strikes.

An example of this came up last night for us as we sat around the bonfire in our backyard with our neighbours who we invited over. As we chatted with them, we found out they have a rather extensive gun collection and buckets of food with a 25 year shelf life, just in case of anything. So we know what their level of self-reliance is, and we know that if the SHTF, they are well-armed and could help provide security for our neighbourhood.

These same neighbours also look after our animals whenever we go away and we bring them fresh produce, home-canned and homemade goods in return. Then there’s our neighbours out back who have chickens and who have traded their eggs with us for seedlings we’ve grown, and our other neighbours who brought us tomato jam that they made with tomatoes from seedlings we gave them, and then who lent us their smoker when we were processing the salmon we caught last week. In return, we gifted them a package of smoked salmon and some seeds from our garden. The bartering system is alive and well in our little neighbourhood!

I encourage you to get to know your neighbours and trade skills, goods and services with each other to increase your overall self-reliance and that of your neighbourhood too!

5. Join or create a community Facebook page

While I highly encourage you to actually get out in your community and get to know people face-to-face, in this age of social media, we also have the advantage of being able to connect with people online. And while it’s really cool that we can connect with people all over the planet over social media, it’s perhaps even cooler hat we can connect with likeminded members of our local community in much the same way, and then we can actually meet them face-to-face!

Many communities have local Facebook pages for different interest groups, for buying, selling and trading or even just for community news and neighbourhood watch programs for smaller communities, rural areas and suburbs. Here where we live, we have tons of local Facebook pages for every interest, including a local self-reliance group and a zero waste group through which I have already met several people in person and even managed to trade some goods with them!

Search on Facebook for keywords like “your area” + “community page,” “self-reliance,” “homesteading,” “sustainable” or “buy, sell and trade”” depending on what you’re looking for. 

Can’t find a local Facebook page for your area/community/interest? Create one! Our local zero waste page was started by a member of our community a year or so ago and has now grown to hundreds of members who share knowledge and information, trade goods and even meet up in person for various activities. It’s also a fantastic way to connect with others in your community if you’re new to the area or struggling to find people you connect with or share interests with.

6. Vote/Be politically active and informed

While politics might not seem to have much to do with homesteading and self-reliance, the political decisions that impact your area can have a very real effect on your community’s overall self-reliance and many aspects of your everyday life, including things like what you (and other community members) are legally allowed to do on your land, whether you’re allowed to have livestock, grow food and herbal medicine, run a business, have a farmstand, build your own structures on your property and and even whether you’re allowed to collect rainwater or hang your laundry to dry (yup, for real. Homeowner’s Associations in many states have tried to make it illegal to hang your clothes to dry outside. Luckily, “Right To Dry” laws have been passed in a handful of states, which override any HOA laws in these areas. Read more about this here and find out whether your state is protected by a “Right To Dry” law.)

Political decisions also influence things like environmental regulations (which can either have a positive or negative affect on the health of the land, water, air and species on and around you, your community and your homestead), and of course politics also affects things like how much money we all pay in taxes and what sort of funding goes back into our local communities, as well as what our overall rights are as citizens.

But beyond just voting once in a while when an election rolls around, do your best to stay informed about local politics and decisions in and about your area and maybe even consider taking a more active role by attending town halls, campaigning or petitioning for a cause you’re passionate about, writing your local representatives or even running for office. 

I’m super proud to say that our district representative is also an organic farmer in our area so I know she has a vested interest in things like protecting agricultural land and advocating for food security and a clean, healthy environment.

No one fit to advocate for community self-reliance in your area? Maybe there’s a seat in government with your name on it 😉

Of course there are so many more ways you can get involved and promote self-reliance in your community  by investing your time, money and resources locally. But the above suggestions are a good place to start and may just spark some other ideas. 

What about you? Do you support your community in any of the above mentioned ways? Got any other suggestions or ideas regarding how you can promote self-reliance in your local community? As always, I invite and encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments section below and keep the conversation going!

Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂


CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

2 Comments

  1. Heather @ A Happier Easier Life

    Great opinion and article. I too believe a little self-reliance is good for everyone! I really liked your suggestion to get to know your neighbors. You never know how cool the people around you might be unless you get to know them.

    I’m a total Amazon mom, especially around the holidays. Your article has inspired me to check out the local stores first this year before I hop online. Thanks!

    https://ahappiereasierlife.com/

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      That’s so great! I know, Amazon is so easy and has EVERYTHING! Don’t get me wrong, I love Amazon and order from there a lot. But if I can get something locally I usually try to. And yes! Getting to know your neighbours has so many benefits:)

      Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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Okay, I’m just gonna come out and say it: I’m a total sucker for pumpkin spice.

Call me #basic, but it’s the truth.

In fact, I’m all about everything fall: the colours, the coziness, the sweater weather, and yes, pumpkins and pumpkin spice. There’s just something comforting and nostalgic about it; Like grandma’s kitchen or the warm scent of pumpkin pie that wafts from the table at holiday dinners with family and friends.

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For one, fall is the best time to amend and enrich your soil, so adding compost or manure or some sort of organic matter is pretty crucial this time of year.

Also, you should always cover your soil, especially over the winter months when soil is more likely to erode and nutrients can get washed away. A cover crop or a thick layer of mulch is a good idea to help keep your soil protected and intact.

And of course, garlic should be planted in the fall before your first frost to ensure huge bulbs next summer. Us homesteaders always have to be thinking ahead a few seasons!

I'm taking you into our garden as we're tearing it down and planting out our garlic. I'll show you our fall gardening routine and I'll walk you through planting garlic so you can start growing it at home too! (It's honesty the easiest, most rewarding crop that we grow).

It's time for the grand finale in the garden this year as we tear it down and prep it for next spring. Will you join me for one last hurrah?

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I make at least a batch or two (or three) of these scented soy wax candles every year around this time. I burn a bunch of them myself over the winter and we gift them for Christmas. I’ve even sold them for upwards of $15 a piece!

If you want an easy and rewarding DIY project to get into as we head into fall and winter, homemade candles is your answer.

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Sometimes I question why I do what I do. Why do I take on so much? Why do I bother making everything from scratch and growing a garden and preserving food when I could just as well buy it from the store and save myself a ton of time and effort?⁣⁣⁣
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Why am I working hard to build a business out of my passion when I could just as easily go to work for a pay check and just enjoy homesteading as a hobby on the side?⁣⁣⁣
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Why do I choose to do everything the hard way and see against the grain? Why not just go with the flow and hope for the best?⁣⁣⁣
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I can’t say for sure that I would have chosen to follow all the same paths that I’ve gone down over the past few years had I not become a mother, but what I 𝘥𝘰 know for sure is that my beautiful daughter is worth every ounce of hard work; every dollar I’ve invested in our future goals and dreams; every late night work fest and canning session; every seed planted and loaf of bread baked.⁣

She’s worth it because I want to give her the best I can in life. I want her to eat good food and live a long and healthy life. I want to teach her how to be self-sufficient so that she has the skills she needs no matter what kind of world awaits her in the future. And I want to show her that anything is possible and any dream is worth pursuing, even if the work that it takes to achieve it is harder than following the herd and taking the road of least resistance.⁣⁣⁣
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This little human right here: this is my why. This girl and her goofy smile make everything worthwhile ❤️⁣⁣⁣
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What (or who?) is your why?
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This growing season has seriously been the strangest I’ve experienced so far. Summer came so late we thought it wasn’t gonna come at all. Our greens and peas and spring crops produced for weeks longer then they normally do as we waited FOREVER for our tomatoes and peppers and summer crops to grow and ripen.

Now that we’re into October, we’re having a warm spell and the garden is acting like it’s summer! The tomatoes are all just starting to turn red, the cucumbers and zucchini are still givin’er, the pumpkins and squash are having another growth spurt, and now the green beans are starting on round two after about a month of dormancy!

We’re supposed to be going fishing tomorrow, and I’m wondering if the salmon are a little late this year too...

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Can you imagine how bland and boring our food (and life) would be without spices??⁣

Seriously! We take them for granted nowadays because they’re so readily available in our pantries and on grocery store shelves. But for thousands of years throughout history, spices were coveted, revered and hard to get. For around 1,500 years, spices travelled overland on camelback and horseback on the Silk Road from China to the west. And then, just over 500 years ago, explorers set out into the unknown to find a maritime trading route, and one of those explorers just so happened to stumble on the Americas along the way, essentially shaping history and the modern world as we know it. ⁣

But besides history and geography, the science behind spices is just as fascinating. Their culinary and medicinal uses have had a huge impact on the world and on the dishes we enjoy on a regular basis today. Oh, and did you know that, scientifically speaking, it’s actually possible to GROW even the most “exotic” spices at home, right here in North America??⁣

I LOVE to geek out on this sort of stuff, so doing the research for the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine was actually so much fun. (If you hadn’t guessed, this issue is all about spices!!)⁣

I’d love to tell you so much more right here, but I’m a bit limited on space! However, you can read more about the fascinating story of spices, their culinary and medicinal uses, how to put them to use in your kitchen and yes, even how to grow them at home in the October issue.⁣

So if you’re already subscribed, be sure to check your inbox for the latest issue (it came out yesterday). And if you’re NOT yet subscribed, then head on over and click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to subscribe for FREE, and get the latest issue delivered straight to your inbox!⁣

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September is such an odd time of year. It’s the time of year when we tend to find ourselves with a foot in two worlds: A transition season, if you will.⁣

In the garden, some plants are dead or dying. There’s brown, crispy stems, dried pea pods bursting with next year’s seeds and a natural layer of mulch in the form of fallen leaves. But at the same time there’s still so much life. So much greenery and colour. So much of summer still left.⁣

Indoors we’re busy putting up the harvest, stocking our shelves with jars of colourful food, baskets of cured onions and garlic, dried herbs hanging everywhere and crocks of fermenting foods on every countertop. But while we’re still dealing with the summer bounty, fall has begun, which means we’re back to schedules and routines and, for those of us with kids, school.⁣

But this year our return to our “normal” fall routines is anything but. For many families, there is no return to school. Not in the traditional sense anyway. Instead, more families than ever before have found themselves educating their children at home for the first time, whether by force or by choice. And trying to balance all of the usual September tasks with navigating full-time homeschooling can feel daunting, to say the least.⁣

I know we can all use as much help and expert advice as we can get at this time, so I’m honoured to have Ginny Aaron, a full-time homeschooling, homesteading mom of three sharing her wisdom on the blog this week. She’s generously shared her best tips for incorporating homeschooling with your existing routine and finding the teachable moments in the every day so that you don’t need to uproot your life or find another 7 hours in your day to recreate a classroom environment at home.⁣

I just love Ginny’s approach to homeschooling and if you’re anything like me, I think you will too. You can check out her full post by clicking the link in my bio or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/homeschooling-on-the-homestead/

It’s also Ginny's first time guest posting so be sure to leave a comment while you’re there and let us know what school looks like for your family this year.⁣

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead
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I’ve been feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders lately. Between balancing work and the garden and all of the canning and preserving tasks this time of year, I’ve already got enough on my plate. Add a string of social commitments, back-to-school and extracurricular activities, and I’m definitely feeling the pressure, as I usually do this time of year.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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But lump on a pandemic, worsening political tensions, division and civil unrest, intensifying environmental disasters (we’re currently socked in with smoke from the California wildfires), and it all just becomes too much to bear some days.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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I know I’m far from the only one who’s feeling this way. And yet, we all have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going even when we’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed and burnt out. Even when the present is frightening and the future is uncertain.⁣

I’ve developed some strategies over the past few years that have helped me keep moving forward and get things done even when I’m feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, and I want to share them with others who need help coping with stress and overwhelm right now too.⁣⁣
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You can check out my list of 10 tips for managing stress and overwhelm on the homestead (and in life!) by clicking the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead and then clicking the link to the full blog post at the top.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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You can also grab my free time management planner by clicking the link in my bio and then clicking on “Free Resource Library,” (find it under “Homesteading & Self-Sufficiency Resources” in the library).⁣⁣⁣
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No matter what you’re struggling with right now, I hope some of these tips help keep you navigate these extra stressful times and stay focused and moving forward with your to-do list, as well as with your big goals and dreams. But most of all, I hope it reminds you that if you are struggling and feeling overwhelmed right now, you’re not alone.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to read more.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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I don’t think I have a jar big enough for this pickling cucumber 🥒 ⁣

What do you do with the huge pickling cukes that inevitably get missed in the garden??⁣

Please leave suggestions below! I’ve got two of ‘em! 😂
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Late summer is truly the time of abundance (and by far the busiest time of year for us).⁣⁣⁣
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We’ve got so much food that’s ripe for the picking in our own garden, plus baskets full of produce that we purchase locally when it’s in season and preserve for the winter.⁣⁣⁣
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Between harvesting and preserving (and trying my best to document it all for you along the way), there’s little time for much else in August.⁣⁣⁣
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We’re busy sweating in the garden and the kitchen, working around the clock to preserve all of the fruits (and vegetables) of summer so that come winter we hunker down and relax knowing we’ve got a pantry full of food to sustain us.⁣⁣⁣
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While there have been more times than I like to admit when I’ve asked myself why we do this when we could be at the beach or floating down the river like everyone else, come winter I am ALWAYS grateful for the time and energy we invested in the spring, summer and fall to grow and preserve all of the food that lines our pantry shelves.⁣⁣⁣
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With everything that 2020 has brought so far (and more uncertainty to come), this year I’m feeling grateful even in the thick of it; Even while I’m sweating and pulling late night canning sessions and constantly scraping dirt out from under my nails. This year it’s more apparent than ever how much growing and preserving our own food is worth the time and effort that it takes.⁣⁣⁣
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If you feel the same way and you’re looking to get even better at gardening, preserving and homesteading in general, or maybe you’re finally ready to start living a more sustainable lifestyle where YOU have control over your food supply, I highly encourage you to check out the Gardening & Sustainable Living Bundle (link in bio @thehouseandhomestead). It’s packed with almost $600 worth of resources designed to help you take control of your food security and live a more self-sufficient life, and it’s on sale today only for just $19.99!⁣

If you ask me, we would all be wise to invest in our own food security as we head into fall and winter 2020, so click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to grab your bundle now. The sale ends tonight at midnight so don’t wait!!
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