Become a Pandemic Pioneer by Taking a Few Starter Steps

A farmer's market, a co-op, and small businesses can help you get started on being self-sufficient.

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by Niche Brislane
Building home-scale self-reliance begins with a small step.

As we enter the close of the second year since the COVID-19 outbreak, many are facing this holiday season worrying less about what to put under the tree and more about how to cope with supply chain shortages.

No doubt the start of 2020 marked the end of a comfortable era. Our once-harmonious balance of supply and demand granted the majority freedom of ease to find whatever they needed, whenever they needed it. As we saw in just a few short months, our world struggled to adjust to social distancing and quarantines, effectively devastating the networks that kept this delicate balance in order.

Maintain a Sense of Grounding in Farming

Among all the chaos and uncertainty one thing remained steadfast: farming. Regardless of meat supply disruption, the calves continued to be born. As trucks screeched to a halt and cargo ships fill bays with produce that will never make it to store shelves, the garden continued to grow.

As the majority of the world pined out their windows through hot summers and cold winters, the farmer never stopped farming. But the farmer also still wanted for little as most of his needs were met by his own hands.

It is a lifestyle worth taking note of and a lifestyle many are turning back to with ambition or curiosity in the last two years. As the realization that society has placed too much responsibility out of their own hands and into a fragile system begins to sink in, the vision of self-sufficient living is taking shape. The idea is crossing many a mind to think inwardly and see what they can do to help themselves rather than wait for the store to restock.

You may find yourself balking at the prices of tomatoes, ground beef, knitted scarves, or processed goods at the store, growing more and more concerned as your local store dwindles in supply week by week. The idea has crossed your mind that maybe a tomato plant or small garden can be an option but you might continue to worry that these steps alone won’t keep your family fed. You’re wanting to do something to offset the uncertainty in the world at the moment and just don’t know what small ways you can start. Or perhaps you’ve already started and are wrapping up the first garden you’ve ever planted in your small patio.  In either case, congratulations! You are a pandemic pioneer!

Opportunities to Build Self-Sufficiency During the Pandemic

As a pandemic pioneer, what can you do to start off small? Where can you begin to take back the control of being self-sufficient? There are many ways to start, but here’s a breakdown of five places I recommend.

  1. Your farmer’s market. Most towns have small farmer’s markets or agri-community boards where you can post what you are looking for be it produce, meat, or mentoring. This is the fastest way to get in touch with your local network of gardeners, farmers, crafters, or those living a self-sufficient life.
  2. Subscribe to a magazine or follow a blog. Heaps of valuable instructionals, examples, or ideas are available for how to make small steps into self-reliance. Gardening groups on social media, video channels that walk you through how to grow your own backyard poultry, as well as many other variations, are at the ready to fill your libraries and bookmarks. Mother Earth News and GRIT are great places to start.
  3. Join a co-op. Many co-ops embrace and shape their practices on community values, often giving many valuable perks, such as more favorable prices, selection, or options to those who are members. The co-op is where your town thinks as we not as me. Learn from a group that harbors an almost forgotten sense of kinship with neighbors to build a network of people helping people.
  4. Visit your local small businesses. Your local greenhouse can help you learn or pick out the best plants for whatever garden space you have — and at whatever skill level you have. Your local processor can help you understand and select the best cuts of meat to fit your budget all while supporting local farmers, often putting you in touch with local options that are cheaper on a bulk scale than buying little by little at the supermarket. Your local craft store usually has a wealth of people offering advice on ways to make those much-needed items you typically buy out of convenience.
  5. Take a step. If you haven’t already taken some small step towards your own acts of self-reliance, there’s never a bad time to start. Something as simple as a windowsill garden of herbs or buying your meat from your local meat processor to support a local farmer instead of the mas meat market chain are all ways you can take that first step.

These are just a few ways you can get started learning or diving right into the world of self-sufficiency as a pandemic pioneer. There are hundreds of people, places and opportunities out there to live a more frugal and fruitful life.

The community is always inviting and keen to share their knowledge or advice, so never shy away from asking questions or feeling embarrassed at your skill or knowledge levels in the face of those who bear a lifetime of experience. Everyone starts somewhere and we all come to the table with differences in knowledge or experience. If it helps: You’re not an outsider trying to live a life your grandparents had. Rather, you’re coming home to live it for yourself.

Niche Brislane is an Amish-raised farmer and prairie pioneer enjoying all the fruits of a life well lived in harmony with the Earth. She seeks to share and teach the rewarding life of frugal self-reliance. Connect with Niche at Stag Valley Homestead, on Facebook and Instagram, and on her blog.

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