I had been pondering a way to roll out a new category of posts here at Hudson Valley Green when I received a newsletter bulletin from my local CSA, Common Ground Farm, that provided the perfect introduction. The Farm is offering a program series where
“children will learn about and experience life as it was in the late 1800s frontier America: how children and their parents provided food, shelter and entertainment for themselves, long before the days of television, refrigerators, cars and supermarkets.”
As hard as it might be for children to imagine a life without television or cars, it’s likely almost impossible for most of their parents to conjure such a vision. Interestingly, however, there is no contract with the planet that says humans are guaranteed these conveniences in ever-improving forms into the infinite future. It’s also true that, unlike the future, the planet is not infinite–resources such as, for instance, fossil fuels, will no longer be available to us.
There are many places 0n the internet that explore this topic, and we’ll touch on it here from time to time, but the main focus for this new section will be a positive vision of how to begin to prepare for a lower energy future. As the global economy, built with cheap and abundant energy sources, starts to unwind and contract from the pressures of higher demand and increasing scarcity, one answer is to expand our local economies. But even that task is beyond the scope of many of us to have a noticeable affect. It may be helpful to start with an even smaller building block: the Home Economy.
It was only two human lifetimes ago, or about 150 years, that the majority of families in the United States generated a good deal of their worth right at home, whether in the form of growing food and raising livestock, building their own homes , crafting their own tools or making clothing. Now, I’m not suggesting the gas is going to be turned off tomorrow and we’ll all be scrambling to live like Little House on the Prairie. But there is value in learning skills that can help expand our home economies to meet a shrinking global economy.
So enough about the big picture. The posts I hope to present here will cover topics like starting a simple vegetable garden; raising chickens or rabbits; learning to sew; canning and pickling; basic solar hot water; composting techniques; root cellaring; cooking venison; shopping by bicycle; and a lot more. They will also cover people who have begun to expand their home economies into the local economy–a seamstress who opens a shop; a breadmaker that now bakes for the community.
I hope this series will serve as inspiration for you to think about the wonderful world of Home Economics!
Next post: Making a three-legged stool using hand tools.