From A Kitchen Garden To Complete Self-Sufficient Living

How To Reap The Benefits Of A Self-Sufficient Lifestyle Anywhere In The World

In Waterford, Ireland, years ago, Lief and I bought an old Georgian country house on 10 acres of land. We renovated the house, moved in, and then set about reclaiming the wildly overgrown property all around.

Clawing through the brambles and hedgerows, we uncovered stone walls, former horse pastures and cow fields, an old chicken coop…

Then, one morning, I got a call in the office from our landscaper Liam.

“Kathleen, we’ve found something very exciting,” he began enthusiastically.

“In the side of the hill behind the house, we’ve discovered stone steps leading up to what was once an extensive kitchen garden. My team and I feel like archeologists who’ve made a big find,” he continued.

Liam’s response to coming upon the remains of a 100-year-old kitchen garden was maybe a little overly dramatic, but I have to admit I shared it.

Lief and I left the office early that afternoon to race home to see the lichen-covered stone steps and the acre-plus of garden beds and patches, still discernible even after decades of disuse now that the overgrowth had been cleared away.

Lief built and positioned new raised beds, in which we planted vegetables and herbs. All around the perimeter we installed a picket fence that our daughter Kaitlin, age 12 at the time, painted white. (I’m not sure she remembers the experience as fondly as I do.)

Along one side of the fence we planted a long row of fruit trees.

Lief and I had reason to stop by our former home in Waterford last year and were delighted to see that our reclaimed kitchen garden remains. The apple and pear trees have flourished.

I’ve been thinking of this Irish gardening adventure this week… as I’ve been hearing in real time about current gardening adventures taking place in Cayo, Belize.

Lief traveled Wednesday to Cayo for our Self-Sufficiency Seminar. Usually, when Lief makes a trip for one of our conferences, it’s to act as host. Not this time. Lief was a participant last week, enjoying learning not only about organic gardening techniques but also about all aspects associated with creating a self-sufficient lifestyle.

I wanted to be on the ground with Lief in Cayo but couldn’t manage it. Like Lief, I would have joined the group as an attendee. I’m no expert in self-sufficient living.

Lucky for Lief and me, though, about four years ago, we met someone who is. Con Murphy, an Irishman living in Belize, is not only expert in the theories of self-sufficiency… he’s living a fully self-sufficient life himself in Cayo.

On his farm, Con produces everything required to feed, house, and care for his family. With his help, we’ve conceived a three-day event that will detail everything you (or I) need to know to embrace a similar lifestyle.

Hearing from Lief and friends in Cayo each day during last week’s seminar, I remembered how fun and rewarding it was, years ago in Ireland, to resurrect our old kitchen garden and then to walk out to it each evening to collect lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, etc., for that evening’s meal. I even enjoyed the weeding and pruning on weekends.

We based last week’s seminar in Belize, but the fundamentals and strategies presented by our experts could be put to use anywhere… even on the balcony or rooftop terrace of your center-city condo, for example.

As well, these ideas and techniques are scalable. Con is living a fully self-sufficient life in Cayo. You could do that, too… or you could plant an organic garden wherever you’re living and try your hand at canning or pickling some of your produce.

Last week in Cayo, Con tapped into the flourishing self-sufficient community in that region of Belize to put on an impressive show. Con and his team of self-sufficient pros introduced the group to…

  • Sustainable home designs for the tropics…
  • Permaculture designs for living in harmony with nature…
  • Herb spirals and banana circle swales…
  • Solar, wind, and water strategies for generating power…
  • Crop selection, raised beds, and organic growing techniques…
  • Canning, pickling, chutneys, curing, smoking, and drying tips…
  • Fruit wines and distilling strategies…
  • Raising cattle, sheep, and pigs on small and large scales…
  • Keeping bees, worms, soldier flies, pests, and beneficial insects…
  • Natural remedies and home health…
  • Dressing a chicken and butchering a lamb (“Optional session not for the squeamish,” Con points out…)…
  • Home income streams for hobby or full-time earners…

I missed out on being in the room for these lively discussions and the chance to learn in person about banana circles, curing, smoking, dying, distilling, dressing, and butchering…

Maybe you did, too.

And I surely regret not having been able to join in on the fun during yesterday’s field trips to tour self-sufficient farm operations big and small…

But I’m consoling myself now with the thought that our team in Belize got it all on tape.

No, it won’t be the same as touring the farmer’s market with an expert guide describing the best use of each product on offer… both for cooking and for health and healing purposes…

And it won’t be as dramatic as watching a chicken slaughtered and prepared for cooking… or as fun as inspecting an aquaponics system up close…

But for me, for now, the recordings and other speaker materials will go a long way toward jump-starting my own self-sufficient lifestyle thinking.

I’m a city girl, happier in Paris than anywhere else on earth.

That said, I feel increasingly drawn to the ideas and practices of the self-sufficient life.

Lief and I have long intended to include Cayo, Belize, in our long-term plan. But I’m looking forward to incorporating these strategies into our life in general… even, on a micro scale, on the balcony of our apartment in Paris

Kathleen Peddicord

 

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