Welcome! My name is Cheryl, and I’m addicted to food in all its forms. I spend my days thinking about growing, cooking, and eating good food.
I blogged for eight years under the name Free Range Living (all posts now archived on this site). After a long break, during which we built our current home and farmstead, I’m ready to return to writing and hopefully reconnect with online friends. You can read more about what we’ve been up to here.
I live with my husband and two young adult children on an island in the Pacific.
About this blog:
Eat What You Sow is a play on the phrase “Reap What You Sow”. I was looking to encapsulate the idea of a diet that centers around anything that grows from a seed – plant-based eating at its roots. I’ve been a vegetarian most of my life, but for various reasons our family phased out animal products about five years ago, which has also changed our approach to homesteading. My focus here will be on organic gardening and permaculture, as well as cooking and preserving the harvest. I will likely invite you into my home from time to time to take a peek at the various DIY projects we’ve got on the go.
About our diet:
Our brand of “plant-based” is not as strict as some (we keep bees, will wear thrifted wool, and choose to fix rather than replace our leather footwear). When we started out, we were hesitant to call ourselves vegan, feeling like we didn’t “measure up”; but as time passed, the philosophy of veganism became something we felt deeply and are increasingly passionate about. For us, this way of eating isn’t so much a diet as a way of minimizing harm (animal, social, and environmental). We no longer see family traditions or personal cravings as justification for the the cruelty and violence inherent in using animals for food (such as the breeding and subsequent culling of male chicks and calves).
About our homestead:
After finally achieving our goal of buying a sunny piece of land on which to put down roots, we promptly built a garden, orchard, and chicken coop. As we no longer eat eggs on a regular basis, our elderly hens and ducks mostly serve as composters and pest control. I’ve given up on my original dream of raising goats and making cheese. Aside from the fact that we don’t eat dairy these days, I was never able resolve the issue of what would happen to the male babies; and besides, what kind of maniac would knowingly fence what amounts to a domesticated deer inside their garden?! (We still might one day, but as a pet rather than a food source.)
On our small (just over an acre) property, we have 20 fruit trees, two heartnut trees, 30+ berry bushes, and we’re surrounded by temperate rainforest from which we forage for even more goodies.
We currently have two bee hives on the property – one a traditional Langstroth hive, the other a Warre (top bar) style. We’re enjoying observing the differences between the two approaches.
We use the “no dig” method in the veg patch these days. Aside from being a lot easier on aging bodies, it does a better job of retaining water (important on an island made mostly of rock) and suppressing weeds, and our garden has never been so productive.
While the idea of what homesteading looks like has changed for us, it’s cheaper, more sustainable, and requires less external input than it did when animals were a larger part of the picture. With climate change, corporate monopolies on the food supply, and rising food prices, growing your own food feels like a political act these days, a little like the wartime victory gardens of the past. Taking animals out of the equation means that almost anyone can produce at least some of what they eat, no acreage required.
Even if you don’t have the space to grow your own food, many of the preservation techniques I’ll discuss can be used with seasonal produce. Buy your favourites in bulk when they’re fresh and affordable, preserve and put them away to use when they’re expensive (or unavailable).
Hopefully this brief introduction has given you a sense of what you’ll find here. This space will serve as a journal documenting the ups and downs as we grow what we eat, and eat what we sow.
I hope you’ll follow along!