Six years ago, I didn’t even really understand what organically grown meant. I mean, I saw vegetables in the grocery store that said they were. I also saw their price tag often being double or triple the cost of the other produce beside it. I was an art teacher, so my wallet was already a bit strapped for groceries anyway. Since my belly back then really preferred the convenience of the freezer section, or better yet the candy or bakery aisle to carrots anyway… I’d just shake my head, put those carrots down and walk away.
Yet—I weighed 300 pounds, that walk to the candy aisle was pretty slow. Going through the checkout line with a cart full of chips, soda, bread and chocolate always seemed to make my anxiety and depression worse… Not better like I thought it would. Somehow I thought heading home to stuff all that junk food in my mouth in the evening in front of a television would make me forget the looks I got from the cashier or other customers when I bought it in the first place. But it didn’t. Not even a little tiny bit.
What I didn’t realize then, but do now–is that just picking up those carrots did something to me. They planted a seed. Of what seemed like a crazy idea at the time… what if I could grow organic carrots of my own? What if I could get an egg from a free range chicken I’d actually raised? What if I actually knew where my food came from?
It’s funny how depression worked for me, it always just kept getting worse and worse. Worrying about my weight just seemed to make the numbers on the scale keep spiraling up at a dizzying clip. Until one day–that idea of carrots and chickens was all I could think about. It felt like it might just be a way out… of being overweight, of feeling so disconnected, of being so anxious and so depressed that I didn’t want to even wake up some mornings. There were actually nights back then that I would be so sad and feel so bad, that I’d go to sleep crying and praying I wouldn’t wake and have to face another day of being who I had become.
Fast-forward six years…. to today. To find a 154 pound permaculture farmer sitting on 9.87 acres of her very own. A lady so dang excited about life, vegetables, rabbits and chickens that she can rarely sleep past five am. A woman that is so proud to have been organically grown.
The last six years have been the very best ones of my whole life. I spend daylight hours outside sowing seeds and not so much behind a screen. I know exactly where the food on my dinner plate came from, because I usually put it there. I’ll skip the freezer section every time these days in lieu of my deep love of food preservation. I go to the garden instead of the gym or the grocery store. Lack of confidence that used to crush me grows stronger and bigger every year out here. Muscles and big smiles I’d never seen before do too.
I’ve gained skills on this farm that I never even knew existed before–when I just went to the grocery store. I can butcher my own meat. I can find those sneaky free range eggs the hens hide. I can grow some serious squash. I still don’t grow carrots so great, but I’m okay with it–I grew a lot of determination to keep trying here too.
I share this homestead life with a forager, who overcame her own issues and found her best self in the forest and with the wild things. Who lost eighty pounds here her own self. A side effect she didn’t expect when she went into this with me on a quest to just skill up. So that means my life has the happy balance of also being about primitive living and wild foods. I can start a fire with sticks. I can hunt the precious chanterelles I love. I know how to breakdown a deer and use every single piece of that amazing creature to feed my belly and put clothes on my back.
An organically grown life–it means everything in the world to this farmer. I may not have been sown or sprouted until I was 31 years old, but I couldn’t be more grateful that I did. Every single day feels so incredibly precious and inspiring. These days I simply cannot wait to wake up, and I don’t pray for much else except to have a lot more of them days that I do. Well, and for rain! Yet, not today–it’s raining right now as I speak and it sure does feel like nature saying thank you. For being willing to grow… Organically.
Okay so, here’s the homesteading truths I try to be very serious about sharing on this blog. Yes, I have a great story and I’m so happy I did just what I did. It was exactly what I had to do at the time, to just survive my sadness. I’m so darn grateful that I lost the weight and have now kept it off for over two years by designing a life I love and that keeps me healthy. But, if the idea of homesteading your way to better health and happiness sounds like something you would like to try–you can likely do it better than I did!
I sure am no doctor, and I’m never dispensing medical advice or telling you what to do. But I can tell you what I would have told myself 6 years ago. To do what I didn’t do. Make a plan with your doctor to make sure you don’t put yourself in peril in the name of produce. Get an appointment with awesome naturopathic doctor that you love, like I love mine from Through the Woods Natural Health here in Brevard, NC. Those fine folks can help you make a support plan to make your transition easier than mine was. Take a picture or video of yourself at your heaviest weight, like I was too afraid to do…. but SO wish I had now. Keep following us on this blog and social media in the coming years as we do our best to keep getting better at sharing with you what worked here and what didn’t.
You can get education that is affordable and organically grown too – like from the amazing Organic Growers School in Asheville. That way, it likely won’t take you six years to be standing where I am today. You can spend this winter reading and studying how you might want to grow. Because remember…. I’m living proof that changing your lifestyle can be as simple as the seed of an idea being sown in your heart…. even if you’ve never grown a single thing before.
Man, I get a lot more fired up about figs these days than I do about that old candy aisle anyways!
There’s those serious squash I mentioned. I’m a huge fan of Sow True Seed and cushaw squash these days!
Man, my garden sure is quicker to get to than a convenience store! Tastier to me these days too…