I am not an expert gardener and have only spent the last few years taking a stab at preserving what we eat and eating what we preserve. Every year, though, I grow more and more excited because every year we are learning, producing, and preserving more.

I have learned that amazing things can happen when you simply choose to work at producing and preserving foods rather than spending time doing other things. I have been greatly encouraged and informed by the new book Surviving Off Off-Grid. I have watched the reaction to this book’s release and I believe that people are hungry (pun intended) for a different way of life.

Why Does It Matter?

Our family desires to live a simple, debt-free, agrarian way of life. This will allow my husband to be at home alongside the children and myself, working for our basic needs with our own two hands. More importantly, though, it allows us to rely directly on God’s providence for our very basic necessities without the distraction and corruption so prevalent in our consumer-based society.

It is our family’s goal to be producers rather than consumers. While we currently reside just outside of a large city, we chose to rent an older duplex with a backyard available for gardening and while my husband works an 8-5 desk job, he also does a lot of the manual labor of gardening and I do garden upkeep, harvesting, preserving, and cooking.

By beginning our journey with food production, learning to buy from local farmers and eat seasonally, and learning the most sustainable methods of food preservation, we have learned that it is possible to start at zero and work your way to grocery store independence.

It Doesn’t Have to Be All or Nothing

Like I said before, I am not that experienced of a gardener. With all of our other responsibilities we have not taken the time to learn the intricacies of organic gardening. We lost our entire cabbage crop (12 giant heads) last year to pests and just when our four cucumber plants looked like I’d be pickling dozens of quarts, they up and turned yellow and completely died on us. It was a sad day.

So we do what we can. We tear up ground with hand tools, add some compost, plant some seeds, water when there’s time, and wait to see what happens. Last year we were able to grow much of our own produce needs for the summer, but I relied on local farmers for most of what I preserved.

Three Sustainable Methods of Food Preservation

In my book Simple Food {for winter} I go into detail about the benefits of choosing these three sustainable preservation methods:


If you would have told me five years ago that we would have fallen in love with fermented vegetables I would have said you were off your rocker. I have written an article for beginners, I have posted recipes for salsa and kimchi, I have shared 5 tips for delicious lacto-fermented dill pickles, I shared my sauerkraut method in Simple Food {for winter}.

I can not say enough about how easy and sustainable this method is, not to mention how incredibly beneficial fermented vegetables are not only for your digestive health, but your immune system and your energy as well. And these things keep for a very long time in cold storage – see mine at 7 months old.


How hard can it be to chop fruits & vegetables and throw them into a dehydrator? Not very and that’s why I’m a fan. When I’ve got 45 zucchinis staring me in the face, I dehydrate them. When we’ve picked 10 pounds of blueberries at the local farm, I dehydrate them. When our turnips showed signs that our makeshift root cellar wasn’t going to keep them as long we hoped, I dehydrated them. When I came home with a ridiculous amount of apples from my father’s trees, I dehydrated them. And then I made pie out of them in January.

Root Cellaring.

Dig a hole deep enough to go below the frost line and in a way that keeps water out and you have a root cellar. We kept potatoes in our miniature root cellar this past winter for a few months. All my husband did was dig a hole, fasten some plastic around the opening to keep it dry, and drop our bushel of potatoes in the bottom. This experiment wasn’t entirely successful, but it did work for a short time, and will have us digging a root cellar as soon as we get on some land.

All three of these can be done with or without electricity, do not require you to stand over a boiling kettle in August, and preserve and actually increase the the nutrition of the foods you are preserving.

I canned tomatoes and apple butter this past summer. The rest of the food was preserved with one of the above methods and we were able to feed our family without a single grocery store trip for two months. And we will still have enough dehydrated and fermented vegetables to last us through our earliest spring harvests.

Why Now?

Side note: While I’d love to go on for hours on this topic, there is simply not enough space. For more on how I use dehydrated, fermented, and root cellared foods for nutrient-dense winter meals check out Simple Food {for winter} and look out for the spring edition in April.

It is early spring (very early for us northerners), and yet here I am talking about preserving food. What you plant (and plan for) now, though, will determine how you eat next January. You can start fermenting radishes and dehydrating spring onions and even spinach if you have more than you can eat.

After these early crops have been harvested you can add some more compost, throw in some cucumber and tomato seeds and every week that you harvest or head to your farmers market you can put aside a jar or two of fermented or dehydrated foods. Grow winter squash, bulb onions, garlic, potatoes, turnips, apples, and beets for your root cellar.

Every seed you plant is a step towards sustainability. Every jar you ferment is freedom from more consumerism. Truly this newness of spring is the time to start a revolution… right in your own backyard.

What are you planning & planting for your revolution?

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