Community Supported Agriculture and Florida Homesteading

IMG_20150208_161752I have been meaning to start a blog for a long time. I love to write but it’s been difficult to find the time. Now, I am not sure if anyone will read it but I do know that God is calling us to share our struggles and triumphs at homesteading and stories of our faith and how it drives us to be less reliant on society and more dependent on ourselves and God.

 Our renewed focus on the homestead is to provide an organic “farm to table” experience to others through farmers markets and our CSA. We are just kicking this off and have been so blessed to have friends that are willing to support and even help us with some projects at the farm. We are still committed to our online retail store and feel very confident that our line of heirloom seeds and other homesteading products will benefit tremendously through research and development on the farm.

 Since Cheri and I still work off the farm one of our biggest struggles is not having enough time. We are so involved in kids activities and ministry organizations that we must manage our time extremely well. I am blessed to be able to work from home so I get back the time that I would spend commuting. Our blog will try to chronicle our struggle with time management, our failures and victories. It’s quite the paradox, we feel lead to the homestead to simplify our lives yet we still feel tied to technology and time. We are getting better at this and hopefully our experiences we share can help you as well.

Our situation is not unique to the homestead blogging world, however, one thing that makes us a bit unique is our location. Though it’s not the most inhospitable location on the planet it’s possibly a close second. Our homestead is in the back-country swamps and forests of Florida. Almost every day is an adventure with such extremes from monsoons to wildfires and all the things that come with them or walking up on rattlesnakes or dealing with bobcats, gators, bears and mosquitoes the size of birds. We are in a place where we must practice self reliance as a matter of virtue.

So our blog will come from the “Florida Homesteading” point of view and focus on the other issues we all face in working to live a simple, cleaner life through Christ in a world that tries to force us to do just the opposite. My wife Cheri, and children Delaney and Jacob look forward to getting to know you all and we pray that we will be able to provide each of you with something that gets you down the country road. Till next time…God bless!

John Egger

Self Reliance Strategies / Egger Farm

 

Self Reliance Strategies offers Seasonal Garden Seed Kits that are carefully selected to thrive in each particular season. We also offer Survival Garden Seed Kits and Specialty Garden Seed Kits which are designed for specific situations (harsh climate, survival stockpiling, hydroponic gardening, etc.). Our seed kits are:

  • 100% Heirloom (non-hybrid)
  • 100% Non-GMO
  • Hermetically sealed to last up to 30 years, if stored properly

An Update from the New Farm

1506100_10203068091288058_1723329764_oIt’s been a very busy 2014 for Self Reliance Strategies. We have been in the process of moving the business to a new farm, which has really kept us very busy setting up the homestead. We apologize for being so silent with the blog but we have really been forced to prioritize with all the exciting things we have going on. Our goal at the new farm is to implement many new homesteading strategies and to test the products during everyday use. This will allow us to get organically back to our original focus of providing the best products at the best price while teaching others the skills to be prepared through self reliance.

Plans for 2015 include a dairy goat operation, our own vegetable coop, and attending local farmers markets, regional festivals and preparedness shows. This will allow us to get closer to our clients plus develop and launch many new products (more to come on that soon). We also plan to utilize the blog, Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms to stay closer to the consumer. We continue to be active at church and in many ministries, and pray that in 2015 we will be able to help feed many through the Matthew 13 Project.

We will have many specials in the coming weeks so please check out the store for great gift ideas and stocking stuffers. We hope you had a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Self Reliance Strategies offers Seasonal Garden Seed Kits that are carefully selected to thrive in each particular season. We also offer Survival Garden Seed Kits and Specialty Garden Seed Kits which are designed for specific situations (harsh climate, survival stockpiling, hydroponic gardening, etc.). Our seed kits are:

  • 100% Heirloom (non-hybrid)
  • 100% Non-GMO
  • Hermetically sealed to last up to 30 years, if stored properly

The Tower Garden

DualTowerGardens-old-new-smlSelf Reliance Strategies is partnering with representatives of the Tower Garden to bring awareness to this amazing product. Cheri got her Tower Garden up and running and is totally hooked.

The Tower Garden is an aeroponic system similar to hydroponics where the nutrients are delivered straight to the roots. The difference though is the roots are given shots of air when the water cycles off. We have ours set to run 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off. The vegetables and herbs grow so well with the exact dose of the perfect minerals that they need. The plants are so healthy that pests and fungus are totally kept at bay and of course there are no weeds.

You can learn everything you need to know about the Tower Garden by visiting Lisa Sutherland at https://lisasutherland.towergarden.com/ where you can also order your own Tower Garden. Lisa is an excellent source for all questions you may have.

Check out the Tower Garden, you’ll be as amazed as we were. Check back here for more information and products we are planning to help you “Grow Good Health”.

 


Self Reliance Strategies offers Seasonal Garden Seed Kits that are carefully selected to thrive in each particular season. We also offer Survival and Specialty Collections which are designed for specific situations (harsh climate, survival stockpiling, hydroponic gardening, etc.).

Our seed kits are:

  • Heirloom
  • 100% Non-Hybrid
  • 100% Non-GMO
  • Hermetically sealed to last up to 30 years, if stored properly

Water Storage Strategy

Reliance-lifeguard1Water Storage on a Suburban Homestead can be limited by the size and installation of water collection containers. In order to meet city codes or HOA rules you may need to limit the overall dimension of your rain barrel or water tank. The smaller containers with the limited storage capacity will not keep up with collection or consumption. There are certain months of the year when the rainfall is not enough and other months when it’s too much and you need to divert the water from your barrels. You will need the capacity to store as much water as feasible.

We recommend storing a minimum of one month or 120 gallons for drinking for a family of 4 and another 400 gallons for a garden that is sized to supplement a food storage program. Remember this is an absolute minimum so if a storage capacity of 500 gallons is not feasible than an alternative water source such as a lake or well would need to be considered for a prolonged emergency. Using tap water you should store water in plastic 5 gallon jugs for drinking as part of your preparedness plan. We recommend you store at least 55 gallons inside at all times for drinking.

The shelf life for water that has been filtered is 1 year. Always store containers in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight. Keep in mind that your 5 gallon jugs will weigh over 40 pounds so make sure the area in which you store the water is strong enough to support the weight. To improve the taste of water stored for a long time, pour it from one clean container to another clean container several times, to put air back into it.  If supplies do run low, never ration drinking water. Drink the amount you need today, and try to find more tomorrow. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing your activity level. There are many hidden water sources in your house if you find yourself in an emergency situation without enough water. These include pipes, ice cubes, hot water tank and even the water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (DO NOT use the bowl).

 

Self Reliance Strategies offers Berkey Water Filters and other Rain Barrel/Sustainability products.  Please visit our store for more information on our products.

Water Collection Strategy

Rain water collection using Rain Barrels is the simplest way to self reliance with your water supply but until recently very few people in the suburbs took advantage of this resource. It’s actually amazing how much even a small roof can collect in a year’s time. Here is a link to many US cities average rainfall. The calculation below will allow you to figure out just how much you can collect.

• square footage of roof X .6 = gallons per 1 inch of rain.
• gallons per 1 inch of rain X average inches rain per month = amount available for collection

After you know just how much rain water you can collect, decide what kind of rain barrel you want to use. There are several choices; the 50 gallon plastic rain barrel from Tractor Supply Company costs $100 and is molded to look like an old wooden oak barrel. It is good to use in areas that are visible from the street or around the back porch since they look nicer. These come with the threaded hole for the spigot and a hole on the top already cut. Several other types are now being sold at Lowes and Home Depot. TSC also sells larger water tanks up to several hundred gallons. We can also help you make your own rain barrel for a fraction of the cost of buying one.

Finally you’ll need to install gutters and downspouts where you need to collect the water. This can be done by yourself  but for our local clients if you need assistance we recommend Kelley O’Connor Inc. for all our gutter and rain collection installations. They are a Christian company and offer exceptional quality and value. Contact Kelley at (407) 221-5315 or email info@selfreliancestrategies.com to schedule a free estimate.

We have been blessed that our Suburban Homestead is on a small 7 acre natural lake. In working with our local water management organization we learned much about the lake. It has an excellent water quality and is fed by the underground water table. Basically it is a sinkhole that is at least 50 years old but could be as old as 500 years. Even though a water source may seem to be excellent quality you must plan to filter the water for drinking (more on that in a later). It should be safe for all other uses without filtration.  

We installed a 2 HP pump for irrigation of our yard, fruit trees, herbs and garden. This setup can be installed by yourself with considerable planning. Using a contractor will cost approximately $1,700 for a basic system. Self Reliance Strategies can also help you with the design if you prefer to do it yourself which can save you 30-50%. Using this setup saves us about 50% on our water bill plus our plants love it.

Side Note:
You can also prepare to supplement this setup during a “grid down” scenario. Using an 8500 watt gas powered generator you can run the pump to fill rain barrels to use to irrigate the garden or even for drinking. This saves on the valuable fuel as opposed to burning more fuel by using the generator to irrigate directly.

Wells can be used as a sustainable source for crop irrigation, other grey water applications and drinking if filtered. Keep in mind though that using a well without electricity will require pumping either using a hand pump or a solar or gas powered generator. A solar pump or gas generator can be used to fill rain barrels or cisterns if needed. A well is considerably more costly to install since most homeowners are not able to do it themselves. Most wells drill at least 180 ft. down. The costs range from $3,500 to $4,500. In Florida it is possible to drill a shallow well yourself but the water source is much less reliable. Here is a pretty good website that gives an overview of drilling your own well.

For logistics sake you’ll still want to use the rain barrel as a method to store all these collection strategies..  We talk more about that in the Water Storage Post.

 

Self Reliance Strategies offers Berkey Water Filters and other Rain Barrel/Sustainability products.  Please visit our store for more information on our products.

Bring the Rain: Water Sustainability Using Rain Barrels

5ac600d1-f275-4371-8a4a-7aa9cd47f237Water is probably the most important aspect of successful self reliance. A homestead cannot be sustained without a clean, reliable water source. In emergency situations it’s the most important aspect to consider with experts stating that at a minimum to plan for at least 1 gallon per family member per day. Our goal in the Water Blog Posts is to present possible sources for water if your normal supply was no longer available due to some sort of interruption. We advocate the use of Rain Barrels for collection, and will cover other other storage and filtration strategies and also offer other water preparedness ideas for your Suburban Homestead.

Most suburban homes rely on “city water” as the main source for potable water so a successful Suburban Homestead must be able to provide its own sustainable water source if the faucet isn’t flowing. During a major emergency with a prolonged grid-down situation, the water may flow but it will not be drinkable if the treatment plants are not running. Three sustainable sources for your homestead to consider are well, lakes/streams/rivers, or rain water. In this post we will focus mostly on ideas and applications that we have tested and been using for several years on our own Suburban Homestead.

The main uses for water on a suburban homestead are for drinking/cooking, hygiene, and irrigation for crops. Since most city or county ordinances prevent suburban homes from using any source other than the city for potable water it is unrealistic to be completely self-reliant in everyday living when it comes to turning on your faucet to get water. We can however work to provide the peace of mind of knowing that if the water turns off to your home, you have the ability to sustain your family yourself with your own water source using a Rain Barrel. Plus your garden will grow so much better using rain water instead of the mostly chlorinated city water.

 

Self Reliance Strategies offers Berkey Water Filters and other Rain Barrel/Sustainability products.  Please visit our store for more information on our products.

Announcing the Matthew 13 Project from Self Reliance Strategies

parable-of-the-sower

“Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” – Matthew 13:3-9

The parable of the Sower is the scripture and vision from which Self Reliance Strategies was born. The mission of the Matthew 13 Project is to witness the Gospel of Jesus Christ while teaching food independence through sustainable gardening. We will serve your Community, Organization, Ministry or Church by donating our Heirloom, non-GMO, non-Hybrid seeds and by teaching organic and sustainable gardening principles. 

Part of being food independent is not having to rely on supermarkets for your food source. In today’s fragile economic climate and seemingly increasing natural and man-made disasters we must be prepared to provide our own food when we cannot obtain it from our local supermarkets. When growing non-hybrid, Heirloom vegetables the seeds can be saved and reused next season giving us food sustainability.  The rising costs of food is making it tougher for charities to provide for those of us who are less fortunate. A community garden can be a great supplement to a food drive or pantry by providing fresh, healthy vegetables at a fraction of the supermarket prices.

Another aspect of food independence is taking control of the health of the foods we eat. In the United States, over 70% of the food in our supermarkets directly or indirectly contain genetically modified (GM) ingredients. Corn, soy, alfalfa and sugar beets have all been approved by the FDA for use primarily in processed foods and animal feed. The FDA recently approved GM sweet corn so now most of the corn you’ll see in the produce section will be GMO. There are many studies that increasingly indicate a link between GMO foods and Autism. Visit  for more information on this.

Paul wrote about freedom in Galatians 5:13, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. True preparedness will depend on giving and serving others and this is manifested in us through the Holy Spirit. Christians are called by the Lord to be the salt and light of the earth.

We would love to hear how we can serve you. Please call us at 321-348-4113 or contact us through our Contact Form. God Bless!

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