Even before I dreamed of becoming an herbalist, I was thinking about learning to garden, farm, and live off the land. Through that process, I became an herbalist and learned that I love homesteading. I love living very closely with the Earth, spending most of my time in nature and camping as much as possible.
Along that journey, I spent a lot of time figuring out. It’s a really confusing time to live in our modern culture when so many of us have become disconnected from the land. With the economy going all over the place, it's really important to know some traditional skills to help you along the way.
I’ve found that as I've gotten older, it's been more important to me to really get rooted in the old, forgotten skills that our great-grandparents knew. The skills that our ancestors have passed down from generation to generation.
Somehow, along the way, we seem to have forgotten many of these skills. I think it’s really important to start recovering these more land-based ways of being. Especially as I get closer to having children, I think about training the next generation of people soon.
There's a handful of things that, no matter where you're at in life, are great skills to have. I have spent so many years and done a lot of work trying to learn all of these things. That is one reason I became an educator.
I want to make it easier for you to learn these life-changing and grounding skills without having to travel all over to do so. Unless you want to -- WWOOFing can be really fun.
1. Grow Your Own Food
Do you remember the beginning of the pandemic? How the grocery stores were empty and we all panicked, "Oh my God. What do I do?"
More of us should learn how to grow our own food when there is abundance, before the natural disaster hits. I've been working on farms off-and-on for about 15 years on many different homesteads. Even though I've worked for a lot of different people, I didn't know how to manage my own farm.
It wasn't until a few years ago, when I started working on my own garden, that I realized I barely knew how to grow a tomato. I'd spent hundreds of dollars investing in gardening equipment and still didn't know how to make tomatoes grow.
I'm by no means perfect, but year after year I learn a little bit more. Now I can produce my own greens. I can grow my own kale. I can grow my own peas and beans and a great variety of things.
I can now supplement my grocery store bill every single month with things that I actually produce year round.
And that's a huge accomplishment to know at least I have this little bit taken care of and I'm going to keep growing those gardening muscles as I go.
2. Food Preservation and Storage
If you're anything like me, you love buying your food in bulk. I love buying 50 pounds of beans and rice. I've done it a few times in my life, it's such an affordable way to buy food, especially in community with others.
But there can be a lot of questions that come up when buying food in bulk like:
Where do you store your food?
How much can you have on hand?
How long does it take for it to go bad?
What happens if it gets infested with weevils and little bugs?
What If there's moisture in the bins? How do you deal with that?
As I've been gardening more and more, I've also been learning that I don't know what to do with all my food sometimes. One year, I had an abundance of carrots. I finally grew them, but there's no way I'm going to go through 20 pounds of carrots in a few weeks.
So what you do with them?
You can pickle them
If you don't know what to do with your garden food when it's ready, it will all go to waste. There's nothing worse than growing your own food and then composting half of it because you didn't know how to handle the abundance.
3. Land Navigation and Plant Identification
I want more of us to know what's around us and how to navigate the natural world without completely panicking.
The last few years, I've learned a fabulous skill from my sweetheart: how to backpack.
Now, I can strap on a bag and know that I can go out 20 miles pretty much any direction in the backcountry and not completely by panic, get lost, or starve... Starving might happen still, depending on the season.
I also know how to get water and what to do with that water. How to filter it, strain, it and treat it so that I won't get sick.
And if you are out in the wilderness for a period of time, plant identification is so important because it tells you:
What ecosystem you're in
Where water might be
What areas are safe to navigate without getting all scratched up
What plants might poison you or help you
That last point is especially important in Southern California for knowing how to identify Poison Oak. You don't want to get covered in a rash or tons of scratches when you're trying to enjoy nature.
So there are some of the most important self-sufficiency skills that I think everyone should learn. And we have another blog post with three more self-sufficiency skills that are so useful.
Holistic Gardener Course
If you are interested in self-sufficiency, Artemisia Academy has a Holistic Gardener Course coming up.
As I said, I've been working on farms for years. But even after spending lots of money and doing so much research, I still couldn't grow my own garden successfully without a lot of help.
That's why I'm so happy to know Mary Andrews, our Holistic Gardener teacher. Now, she's one of my dear friends and she's been a Horticulturist and a Homesteader for over 15 years.
Originally, her fields were just a cow pasture that she has now transformed into a 150-acre orchard. She has different groves of older trees, Redwood trees and native plants all surrounding her garden. And in the middle of her space she has a giant veggie garden. She has this abundant garden in Southern California, which she manages with very little water.
Mary has really turned a cow patty dirt pile into an abundant ecosystem of thriving food for her family. She has so much food to share with her friends as well.
The way that I finally got good at gardening was because I finally decided to hire someone to teach me. And by doing that, I also hired someone to teach you all how to grow a vibrant and healthy garden that's right for your area and your personal situation.
In this class you get to actually plan out, design and research in order to create your dream garden or homestead without wasting all of your time, energy, effort, and money.
So if you're interested in learning a bunch of really great self-sufficiency skills, sign up for our Holistic Gardener Course today. And otherwise, check out another great post we shared with three more self-sufficiency skills we should all learn.