If we ever reach Peak Everything and the house of cards that is the world economy takes a hard tumble, it’s doubtful that we would be able to grow enough food in backyard gardens to fill the gaps in the food distribution system that would occur. Would it be prudent for islanders to find some land and recruit some young (younger than me) growers to Lummi Island? There’s lots of good property not being used and a few acres of well-managed land might make a huge difference in food security in the future. It would require some vision on the part of a group of people to come together with financial support and a commitment to purchase the output of any local operation. One obvious way to accomplish this would be to form an LLC and sell shares and offer a significant portion of shares to a land owner who would be willing to make land available in five to ten year increments. At the same time, we could form a CSA to guarantee a market for the production.
This isn’t a new idea as I found out recently reading an article on the website Automatic Earth (thanks to a tip from Lis Marshall).
During the New Deal there was a government program, an extremely popular one, that offered homesteads to applicants. These homesteads, often in an urban setting, included a house and outbuildings and enough acreage to grow food and have some animals. This is all detailed in a comprehensive article well worth reading from a recent post on the Automatic Earth. Interestingly, it was written by a Bellingham woman who after recapping the history poses a hypothetical proposition on how this could be done today without using government in an article titled, “Reviving the Department of Subsistence Homesteads.”
She offers the possibility of using local organizations (Whatcom Folk School, Whatcom County Extension, WSU-Mount Vernon Research Center, Country Living Expo, Sustainable Connections, Transition Whatcom, Bellingham Urban Gardeners, Washington State Grange, Whatcom Educational Credit Union, Whatcom Community Foundation, Kulshan Community Land Trust, • Scratch and Peck Feed, Growing Washington CSA, Northwest Agriculture Business Center, Grow Northwest
It’s very interesting that one of the most successful subsistence homestead programs was in Longview, Washington which is detailed in this article .
I’m curious to know if there are others on the island who think it would be worth some time, effort and investment to help some young farmers get started here.