Every now and then I find myself reading something and think “why go there?” I stumbled across the book “Secret Garden of Survival: How to Grow a Camouflaged Food-Forest” by Rick Austin. I had to buy it because it goes just that extra kind of paranoid that is oddly entertaining.
First off, I love the concept of a food forest, a carefully planned garden of food bearing perennials that require little inputs. You layer shrubs and ground cover under the canopy of fruit or nut trees in a dense planting of awesomeness. Sounds GREAT and yummy and dovetails nicely into my goal of having more naps in my hammock under that same canopy.
The author self identifies as a “prepper”. I had never heard this term before but it clearly has a following. These are folks who plan and prepare for an apocalypse. This could be economic, environmental or medical (maybe the Zombie Survival Guide was not satire?) and to be ready. While I find that a bit, uh, far fetched food security is no joke.
Who has access to food is an important question in my community, many go hungry while others waste food. I’ve come across collective approaches to food security and the rugged individual model. Mike Reynalds of Earthship Biotecture started on the individual end of the spectrum but he sounds lately to be downright cooperative, since Earthships take a lot of person power this makes sense and it turns out lots of folks who moved out into the wilds are now seeking spaces closer to towns and cities, they simply miss other people.
I’m a big advocate of the Food Not Lawns movement because it encourages everyone to try and grow some of their own food and share the surplus, with friends, neighbours and the local food bank. The idea that we can all contribute is interesting and I’ve always been taught to share surplus, to approach life from an abundance rather than a scarcity model.
I’m just starting in on Rick Austin’s book, I’m curious to see how he constructs guilds around fruit and nut trees but I’m not convinced we need to hide our food from our neighbours. I’d rather be like Ron Finley: a guerilla gardener in South Central LA who encourages people to explore and take what they need.
Would you hide your bounty or share?