Dad and Mom? Did There Used to Be Homes Without Gardens?

It’s pretty amazing how quickly basic facts about how we live have changed.

For example: a little over one hundred years ago, nearly every household on this planet had a garden.  It’s also probably safe to say that nearly everyone also knew the farmer that grew the food they didn’t grow themselves.

Today, in the developed world, most people don’t have food gardens and almost nobody knows who grows the food they buy at the supermarket.

Simply, we made a radical shift in how we live without much thought.  From self-reliant independence to vulnerable dependence in a blink of a historical eye.  Not too smart.

Rather than discuss why this shift happened, it’s more important to focus on why in a few short years, nearly every household will have a garden again AND why almost everyone will personally know (and trust) the farmers and artisans that produce the food they don’t grow, preserve, or prepare themselves.

Why is this going to happen?

In the short-term, it will be driven by necessity.

Over the long-term, it will be driven by a desire for the improvements in the quality of life and economic abundance it delivers.

Unfortunately, don’t expect any government mandate or program to help you make the shift.

In fact, as we have seen so far, the opposite is more likely.  Portions of the government and many big corporations will oppose it since it challenges monied interests.

The real drive of the shift to food abundance will happen because people will choose to do so.

People and communities voting with their hands, minds, and pocketbooks for the following reasons, likely in this order:

  1. Security.  Local food provides protection from increasingly severe disruptions in global food production and supply lines.
  2. Economic.  Local food production can save you money, particularly if you have a garden.  Local food also creates a network of local jobs that improve the prosperity of your community.
  3. Health.  Local food isn’t only better tasting, it’s safer.   You get to know and have a say in HOW your food is grown.  To develop trust with the people growing it.  It’s a vast improvement over being treated as a guinea pig by the GMO (genetically modified organisms) food industry and ill-served by an intentionally understaffed government health inspection system.

As the more opportunistic and entrepreneurial resilient communities finally reach the goal of producing most of what they consume locally and demonstrate the prosperity and quality of life improvements it provides (many of which will be led by people who are subscribers to my upcoming Resilient Strategies newsletter), we’ll start to see a flood of attempts to replicate that success globally.

Hopefully, these late starts won’t be too far behind to avoid substantive damage.

Resiliently Yours,


PS:   Local food, energy, water and micro-fabrication makes you and the community where you live, MUCH more resilient.  For new readers that aren’t up to speed on resilience.  Resilience is the ability to bounce back quickly from damage, failure, and disruption.  If you are into comics, resilience is similar to the way spider man recovers his footing and bounces back after being slugged by a super villain.  Mental, economic, personal, familial, and community resilience will be the most important indicator of future success in an increasingly turbulent 21st Century.

PPS:  Here’s a very interesting, professionally design kitchen garden (here’s the detailed diagram for how it is laid out to maximize production and control pests).  There’s a blog covering its construction at Country Living.

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  • Lillian Davenport

    Wow, all the things I have been talking about for 2013 and beyond have been coming full circle for me. First, I connect with John Robb on Twitter, then I read “The Great Disruption” by John Gilding, who tweeted this very article for me to read today.

    In 2013 when the great drought of summer 2012 impacts food prices, the ones with relationships with their farmers are the ones who will continue to prosper healthfully. Those who rely on corn and soy products for their calories will suffer. And, not that I wish anyone specific hardship or harm–certainly, the opposite–but this NEEDS to happen to get people to wake up… if waking up is in their destiny. If not, I think the world will go on without them.

    • Lillian Davenport

      Correction.. Paul Gilding, author of the Great Disruption, (not John) sent me here.

  • illuminoughtu

    The diagram will not download, possibly because I don’t have a Google account. Is there any way to get a copy?

  • Felix

    a little over one hundred years ago, nearly every household on this planet had a garden

    A little over one hundred years ago, there were less than two billion humans on the planet. Now we’re 7.5 billion, and growing.

    Mind you, we’ll be forced to return to the old ways, by factors outside our control. And more individual independence will be a good thing. But that will also mean less time for each of us to work on important stuff beyond basic subsistence. Such as, you know, improving life for everyone.

    Don’t be fooled, it won’t be an agrarian utopia in any way, shape or form. That’s an oxymoron.

  • BW

    For those who live in the city, here’s a neat city garden balcony idea (scroll down to bottom of the page to the New York City, New York header):

  • different clue

    For people with less space than what the garden referrenced above would need, there is a still-classic little book by Duane Newcomb called The Postage Stamp Garden.

    For people who will still resent gardening even if they give in to having to do it, there is a book of least-painful gardening methods called Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. He was an engineer and wrote a book about gardening the way an engineer might do it. Perhaps combining the principles and details of the two books’s methods would allow for best results at the level of pain one is prepared to accept for one’s food security.

    For those who actually enJOY gardening, why not throw in a third book about high labor high input high output gardening? How To Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons.