Solutions for Self-Reliance

This Week in Resilience May 19, 2013


I spoke about resilient communities at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Cooking for Solutions” event this week.

It’s an unusually cool conference in that it uses ‘good food’ as a way to get leading farmers, fishermen, scientists, chefs, and environmentalists together in one place to explore long term solutions to global food production.

Needless to say, it was lots of fun and I learned quite a bit. I’ll write more about it this week.

Here’s one of the things I spelled out at the conference:

A trillion square feet.

In the US alone, lawns take up a trillion square feet of space.

Not only that, we spend over $30 billion a year (and countless hours) maintaining them.

In thirty years, those lawns will be gone.

What will replace them? Foodscapes. Community gardens. Backyard orchards.  Richly productive spaces.

High Point Community Garden

Why will people convert their yards into foodscapes?

  • To eat fresh food at an affordable price.
  • To eat fresher, tastier, and better food than anything available in the supermarket.
  • To protect themselves from disruptions, breakdowns, and failures of the global system.
  • To share with family and friends.
  • To stay connected to the world in a positive way (a need that increases the more time we spend online).

Aquaponics Containers

Here’s a prototype of an enclosed aquaponics system that’s pretty interesting.


container garden


It’s basically a greenhouse built on top of an ISO shipping container.

In the variant above, it’s being set up as an aquaponics system.

Solar Farmers

Devin sent this in from Canada. It’s a picture of a farmer adding a new crop to the mix:

Solar Barn


My back of the envelope calculations on this suggest that this array might be single best source of income this farmer earns (assuming DIY installation) over the next couple of decades.

Not only that, if this farmer is able to join with others in a co-op to sell this electricity to the utilities, the profits might be significantly more than that.

Sincerely Yours,





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