It Can’t Be Done?!

Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.  ~Doug Larson

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.  ~Elbert Hubbard

I’ve seen this graphic floating around the web over the last couple of weeks.  It’s popped up in a few places and when that happens, I try to take that as a cue to stop and pay attention; the Universe is trying to get my attention for a reason.

Conventional wisdom, . . . did you ever stop to think about that term?  When you break it down, it simply means that it is accepted as the most current version of what the majority believe to be true at any given time in history.

Let’s take the subject of the graphic above:  how much land would you need to be self-sufficient and grow/raise all or at least most of your own food?  Conventional wisdom of the day 100 years ago said that you needed 40 acres–that’s where ‘honey, I’m going out to check the back 40’ came from.  Later, conventional wisdom of the time and the book, “Five Acres and Independence” was in vogue.  Now, this current graphic of today’s conventional wisdom says that you can do it on 2 1/2 acres (2, if you’re willing to buy flour).

Now, if I was looking on the internet and in books trying to figure out how I could be self-sufficient, I might be a little discouraged.  What if I don’t have 40 acres, or 5 or even 2.5?  What if I don’t have the financial ability to move and gain that land?  Most people would just chalk that up to a ‘dream for some day’, and continue to drive to the grocery store.

Let’s stop for just a second and think this through:  first, who exactly is supplying this ‘conventional wisdom’? And, has it been tested and proven that this is absolutely true?  And if so, who exactly did the testing?  Do you see where I’m going with this?  And so, the quotes:

Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.  ~Doug Larson

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.  ~Elbert Hubbard

In 1981, Mel Bartholomew wrote, ‘Square Foot Gardening’.  Using his method you can grow enough veggies to sustain a family of four in only 256 square feet (double that for preserving food to get through winter), considerably less than the 2.5 acres.  Granted, that does not take into account any animals if you are not a vegetarian, but the point is Mel thought outside the box.  He did not let conventional wisdom dictate to him.  He experimented and learned to grow things in squares rather than long rows with wide paths in between (a huge waste of valuable space).  He grew trailing vines ‘up’ instead of letting them sprawl on the ground, freeing up even more space.  (Aside:  everything old is new again?  Native Americans knew this ages ago!  Their 3 sisters plantings of corn, beans, squash took advantage of that spacing–the pole beans they grew used the corn to climb on and the squash grew around the feet of the corn!)

So, what if I really want to raise my own meat, dairy and eggs?  Can’t be done, right?  Well, check this out:  the Dervaes family lives in Pasadena, California only 10 minutes away from L.A., a stone’s throw from a major freeway.  They grow all of their own produce (6000 pounds of it a year!), they have enough chickens and ducks to provide them with eggs and they have goats for dairy; right there, smack dab in the middle of the city, . . . and they do all of this on only 1/5 of an acre (8712 square feet)!  Oh yeah, AND they have a ‘front porch farm market’ where they sell their excess (yes, excess!) to local restaurants and customers and they gross $20,000 a year doing it!  Here is a short movie they’ve posted on YouTube.  It is inspiring and fascinating; well worth the 15 minutes to watch it.

They have an awesome website as well.  I have only begun to scratch the surface of it myself!

So, while we can’t all be Mel Bartholomew, or the Dervaes family, we can do more than we are doing right now.  We can begin to think outside the box and have fresh food right outside our own doors–even if it’s the door to an apartment or a windowsill in the kitchen!  Be a pioneer, think outside the box, challenge ‘conventional wisdom’!

Those of you who don’t currently grow anything; here where I live, last frost date is May 15 and that begins planting time for the warm weather crops.  Go out and get yourself one plant or one seed packet–don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to do it all right from the beginning!  Choose your favorite veggie and try growing it this year.  Not sure how?  Contact me and I’ll get you started!  Or surf the internet!  (Just beware of ‘conventional wisdom’ that says it’s hard or cannot be done!)

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6 thoughts on “It Can’t Be Done?!

  1. Exactly! Debunkers who create things like this are just scared to think outside the safe, familiar box. What’s wrong with this graphic is its all-or-nothing stance. Better to do something, even one small thing, toward a better, more sustainable world. You have to start somewhere. Baby steps are better than no steps at all! All we can do is begin moving in a better direction.

  2. Sometimes, I’m glad I didn’t grow up on farm, not because I wouldn’t have enjoyed it, but because I probably would have been “indoctrinated,” for lack of of better word, in the conventional farming wisdom of the time. I might have been told there’s no way to make a living in farming anymore, or that you have to acquire big debt to buy land and equipment. Sometimes not knowing that you can’t do something makes all the difference in doing it.

  3. While I didn’t grow up on a farm, my parents had large gardens that we helped tend as kids. I learned the old ‘plant a whole row’ way to garden! It’s taken me a while to get past that idea!

  4. Good advice – it’s easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged trying to make the big change towards self sufficiency all at once. Tho I have ten acres, we probably use only one for all our production including animals.
    One thing at a time – this year my neighbor turned over some of her flower pots to potatoes – a good start 🙂

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