Homestead Language

In the community of small scale farmers and survivalists, we throw around a lot of words that have particular meaning in this particular context.  You can look up Resilient in the dictionary, but what does it mean on a farm?  One of my regular posts will be fleshing out the context for these bits of jargon.  I’ll collect those posts on this page.

Annual – While I tend to talk much more about our perennials, there is an obvious role here at the farm for annuals, plants that you plant annually (hence the name ;).  From kale to cabbage to carrots, these fast growing vegetables flush out the homestead diet and give you something fresh to eat almost year round.  Plant kale and arugula in the fall, you can eat it over the winter and into the spring.  Plant peas and lettuce in the spring, and they will come in before your perennials ever bear fruit.  Onions, winter squash, potatoes…these are your winter staples. Full Post

Heirloom – Before Monsanto started packaging and shipping out billions of genetically identical seeds each year, farmers planted the seeds harvested from last year’s crop, whose seeds were saved from the prior year’s crop, and so on back tens or hundreds of years.  But these long gone farmers did not just collect seeds and replant each year, they collected the seed specifically from the plants that did best that year.  In this way, they reinforced the traits that they valued and tried to weed out the traits that they didn’t.  I would argue that we have no greater responsibility in the agricultural world than to plant and preserve these heirloom varieties.  Full Post

Organic – Food with the organic label is grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, growth hormones, genetically modified DNA, etc. If you are what you eat, then we should all be inherently skeptical of what we put in our bodies. So yes, all else being equal, one should eat organic food. But healthfulness if not the only criteria by which we make decisions. For instance, an organic label does not really attempt to capture either environmental or economic factors. Read the full post Full Post.

Perennial – A plant that lives for more than two years.  The key to a productive homestead, perennials are your reward for patience and forward thinking.  While they can take a few years to get going, perennials are usually far more productive and require far less work each season than annuals. Full Post

Resiliency – The ability to thrive in changing and adverse conditions. This is the hip word these days both in education and in gardening. How do you raise children such that they are strong and adaptable. As a farmer, how do you plan for climate change? This winter was one of the warmest in New England records. Last winter was one of the coldest. Also the snowiest. Average temperatures have increased and, with that increase, they have brought extremes.   Full Post.


Suburban Homesteading – Raising a self-sufficient family at the intersection of frugal living and backyard farming