Solutions for Self-Reliance

Look At What This Reader Did To Boost Resilience


We spend much of our time evaluating new ideas that are designed to improve our resiliency. A few months ago we outlined a straw bale gardening technique that showed promising results.

Basically, straw bale gardening is a raised bed garden planted in straw bales. This technique gives you the benefits of a raised bed in a medium that is plentiful and inexpensive.

The straw bales help to retain moisture and excess nutrients seep into the ground below – promoting the overall health of your backyard. Some of the plants that have been grown successfully using this method include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Zucchini
  • Strawberries

West Virginia University has successfully used straw bale gardening techniques as shown in these photos:


For a full recap of straw bale gardening, refer to our post which can be found at

We love it when we hear about subscribers taking action on our ideas and recommendations. Here’s a perfect example.

Andrew LaBanc is the son of a Resilient Communities subscriber. His father sent the 26-year-old our straw bale gardens post and Andrew took action.

Now he’s been written up in the local newspaper (that’s free advertising for his business) and is making his community more resilient.

Now, Andrew already knew about gardening. He received his Master Gardener title through an extension of the University of Illinois. But after seeing our straw bale technique, he realized how easy this would be for his own garden and his community.


Andrew sites four benefits inherent to straw bale gardening that make it an excellent choice for just about anyone looking for a non-soil gardening technique.

  • Since straw bales are about 1 foot off the ground, it is harder for rodents and other animals to nibble on your produce.
  • The raised beds reduce bending and possible muscle strain while tending to plants.
  • Straw bale gardening is practically a weed-less system and LaBanc has yet to pull any weeds from his straw bale garden.
  • The technique also has a very low negative impact on a person’s yard. The backyard does not need to be tilled or dug up to successfully grow in existing space.

It’s nice to see someone putting resilient strategies into practice.

Perhaps even better is Andrew’s dedication to helping others in his community. He does this by charging a nominal hourly rate to teach, plant, and even maintain straw bale gardens in his community.

This is something that we can really learn from because it demonstrates the potential income opportunities available when we adopt sustainable techniques.

Not only has Andrew been able to increase the resiliency of his own family by implementing straw bale gardening, he is also generating an income stream thanks to his knowledge and experience.

This really comes back to the essence of the resiliency movement as a whole. It’s not about one thing over another, but about incorporating resilient techniques into our communities.

Not only can straw bale gardening decrease your own food bill, but it also helps others while putting money in your pocket.

Of course, this begs the question – What other needs can be filled in our homes and communities?

It’s your challenge to think about resiliency. Think about some of the sustainable solutions you may have already implemented at your home. How could you share your knowledge with the community?

How could you profit from your knowledge? Maybe it’s in the form of an hourly wage or maybe your financial gain is less important than strengthening your community.

Either way, let’s try to share our knowledge with someone else in the coming months and create resilient communities that can withstand the test of increasingly fragile systems.

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