Last Thursday, Friday and Saturday; we spent those days in classes through the Northern Nevada Small Farm Conference. We came away with a different outlook that frankly, I did not expect.
I have always been of the opinion that food production MUST be a part of long term preparedness and survival. Stores of freeze dried food, canned food and frozen will get by the short term emergency but you need to grow to survive. We moved from CA now some 7 months ago to Northern Nevada. Wet, temperate climate to one of seasons and yep, dry. My plan was to grow in the high desert and prove that it could be done. I had planned on providing food for us to use daily and to put up what we cannot consume for the future. I had not planned to share with my neighbors or community, frankly because I did not think the production would be that high, I was wrong. Thank god I am wrong and what can be done here is fantastic.
During the conference, we heard from the Nevada Dept of Ag, local farms of all sizes and businesses that provide services or use what you produce locally. It was nothing less than eye opening. We have gone from thinking personal production to specialty crops as well that produce $$$ and the local economy with food. One of the most interesting presentations was from the local food co-op. Their plan to sustain the community, separate from the state or from local import was amazing. It appears, that in past years, when the pass to the west toward CA closed for days, the food would start to disappear from store shelves. With just in time inventory that most stores use, and no resupply, we would run short. The Co-op’s plan is to encourage local farms, reduce regulations to get local food in local stores, thereby freeing us from the “Just in Time” problem. The work that has been done to date is amazing, both by the co-op and the State of Nevada.
Exports here from farms and ranches used to be a drop in the bucket, it’s now 5.3 billion dollars annually. And that comes from small farms here, not massive agrofarms owned by corporations. This is local folks helping local folks. In my opinion, preparedness and survival must have community involvement to be successful. The AR and Go Bag, run into the hills survivalist is a short term response to an immediate threat, not long term survival. The success of long term survival is a communities ability to gather local sources to keep wolf away from the door. In our area, we have met more people than I thought possible who raise everything you could think of from quail, chickens, ducks, geese, sheep, hogs and beef and then some. I have just begun to realize the resources around us and it is amazing. In a true SHTF scenario, I see our community trading what all need to survive, and not just survive, but thrive.
We are now changing direction. The straw bale raised beds will be minimized for high tunnels, two to start, 20′ wide and 40′ long. These will extend us to be able to grow year round. Our first 300′ swale on contour is being designed now and I will start construction next month. In this swale will be some 26 fruit trees along with nitrogen fixers and other assorted food plants. The State of Nevada along with the University of Nevada Reno, has a program to help folks pay a portion of high tunnels, basically paying about 80% of the cost for first time producers. Being a producer is simple really, just put a crop in, no matter how small and they will do a quick inspect and you are a producer. It’s just that simple. So with the right specialty crops, $$’s can be raised to offset costs or provide a profit. Most of the farms attending the conference, made less than 5k annually. Only a hand full made over 100k. So is proves that you can add an income stream but be part of the community that when times get tough, will help each other.
Now I don’t know how it is in other states, I have enough on my plate here but it does beg the question, what is out there in my state, my community that I don’t know about. My suggestion is to step out there and find out. The early homesteaders knew the power of family, neighbors and community. The barn dance was just a way to celebrate community and to bind those family’s to each other so that they watched out for each others kids, knew when someone was sick and needed help.
The same can be said for the street fair or farmers market today, it’s local folks getting together now and will do the same later when it’s really needed. We moved from a suburban neighborhood, to close to the front lines if anything should happen for us, but we have a great neighborhood. I know these neighbors will get together when things get rough, we did when someones house got broken into or somebody needed to push a car into the driveway, we helped each other. I think this is lost in today’s Survivalism to some extent. It’s about “Getting your Group together” or “Forming a Team”. How bout we start with our neighbors and community first?