During the Great Depression, Ralph Borsodi wrote Flight from the City. Borsodi had worked with his father in advertising in the 1920s but became interested in the back-to-the-land movement and started homesteading as the economy collapsed. One of the most useful insights of his work was that it is cheaper to grow things for yourself than to purchase them.
This might sound counter-intuitive, but your intuition is shaped by our societal obsession with industrialization. Although industrial food is more efficient in terms of production, it also requires more transportation, advertising, warehousing, and profits, thus diluting any gain in production. I tested this out a few years ago and found it still holds true today.
You can hear my whole discussion of Borsodi on the Low Tech Podcast (episode no. 25).
I think about this as I spend a few hours every day working in the garden. In previous years, I tracked my hours under the idea of gardening one hour each day. We grow lots of our own food and have a large garden, so this was a way I could quantify how much time I spent out there when people asked. You can check out previous year’s results here. But the point is, growing a lot of food doesn’t take as much time as one might expect.
This year, as we’re stepping up our growing operation, I’m still tracking my hours. Right now, I’m well over an hour a day, but as the summer wears on, the plants require less work, so I’m curious to see where my average time ends up. I’ll update the blog occasionally with a recap of how the hours are stacking up, but all of the data will update on the chart below, so check back to this page for the latest!