Self-Sufficiency Doesn’t Exist

farmer putting straw on celery plants in the garden

“Did your parents think you were crazy for doing this?”

A friend asked me this the other day, talking about the farm and our early years living in a yurt with no running water.  

“I don’t think so…at least they haven’t said that out loud to me,” I told her.  “But when I think back to the first few years of the farm, sometimes I wonder how we did it.”

In the beginning, we wanted to be self-sufficient.  

To offer a full-diet CSA, grow every crop, raise livestock, bees, and boil maple syrup every spring.

In the beginning, we confused self-sufficient with successful.

Our culture reveres the “self-made” person.  The small farming and homesteading community reveres self-sufficiency.

But there’s no such thing.  It doesn’t exist.

Soil, plants, animals, people, elements.  We’re all connected.  We can’t grow or create or even survive in isolation.

We need community, from the mycorrhizal network beneath our feet to the flow of water from mountains to oceans, to the people who support us at every stage of growth.

Without my parents, Edge’s parents, our friends and neighbors and customers, we would never have made it through those first few years of farming.  We wouldn’t have even started.

If you’re a new farmer or homesteader, ask yourself this:   

Who is your community?
Who is your support system?
How can you participate in those relationships in a reciprocal way?

As we head into our 10th year of farming, these questions are just as essential now as they were at the beginning.

Community can include people you don’t know personally. 

I consider myself part of the wider organic farming community, which includes farmers and authors who give back through writing and teaching.

Which is why I love books so much — they connect us to ideas and people and ways of growing that can improve our business and help grow our farm.

Now you can get all the books I recommend in one place: at my Bookshop page. is an online bookstore that supports local, independent bookstores.  

You’ll find my curated book lists specifically for organic farmers, from growing manuals to business and marketing to essays and memoir.

This is an affiliate link, and if you purchase a book through my Bookshop page, I’ll receive a small commission.  

I’ll let you know as I add and update the lists there. If you have books you recommend, let me know!

Thanks for being part of this community.

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