A couple months ago, I worked with my friend Julia in my garden. The experience made me realize that I really need to be working with people in general. Despite there being only the two of us, the work was much more than twice as productive and fun as my experiences trying to work alone. By working together, our work carried itself forward, effortlessly.
|Julia and I weeded everything, harvested 20 lbs of potatoes, and planted some peas (which got flooded out not long afterward|
A group working together is far more productive than everyone doing their thing as a sum of isolated individuals. While individuals might have a range of goals and personal preferences, they can work together where their goals are shared. Some might want to do it for recreation, some for aesthetics, and some for feeding themselves, while everyone would have a range of personal temperaments and philosophies on gardening.
Hopefully there are some people around me that, like myself, want to grow as much food as possible for themselves as a part of gaining control over the food they eat. I want to grow as much as I can by myself, for myself, and if I were to be a part of a community, by the community and for the community. Such a community could organize around the simple goal of trying to grow as much food as possible with the resources available. While there can be an emphasis on growing food together, people can in addition work for local farmers in return for food, and buy and trade any remaining food that cannot be gained through working directly. By coordinating their work and distribution, the group can collectively gain control over the food they eat. Any individual can have more control based on their personal preference, and as needed draw on the resources of the group to exchange any work or skills.
While anyone and everyone can help with a collective effort, for anyone like myself who is serious about growing food for self-sufficiency, there would have to be some focus on making goals and documenting labor and yields. While this might sound overbearing, in the end it would be very rewarding, as the practicality of growing one’s own food would be demonstrated.
Personally, I would want to work directly with people who are relaxed, and do not feel too pressured, with the work carrying itself at its own pace, as I described my work with Julia being. Everything is not about yields – there are ethics, philosophies, personal preferences, and people with varying abilities. The group can grow a variety of things, with a variety of methods, with a variety of people. If the full range of things are included in the group’s documentation, that will give a truly broad understanding. If goals are not met, what matters is that the levels productivity are being observed, and people choose how they wish to act accordingly.
To begin, over the winter, the group can consider all the land available to them, consider potential yields, the amount of work needed to grow, the way that they want to go about gardening, and make goals of yields based on the time people are willing to commit. The best way to make this work is for there to be regularity – regular meetings in the winter, and when the spring rolls around, create a regular schedule. Clear plans can be developed by the time spring starts. When the work begins, the hours that people worked should be recorded, from the time commuting to the gardens to the time washing and processing the food. This way true comparisons can be made. Time and yields should also be compared to the costs of comparable food in the grocery store or farmers market. By planning ahead, and working regularly and mindfully, and looking back at the progress made and acting accordingly, a community can over time gain control they can over the food they eat.