In this first year of his experiment he planned to find out how much yield is in what he is growing, and how long it will feed his family. And it’s not only about food, he points out, but growing medicinal plants and feed for our animals as well, if you want to become more sustainable.
Seed stock is another aspect he discusses, which to him is of foremost importance — for diversity of what you can grow, preserving seed genetics, and to be used as a form of exchange or currency in future times.
"People talk about emergency preparedness", says McGuire. "You know, for an emergency you’ve gotta have your flashlight and sleeping bag out. If we’re in a long emergency, as Kunstler frames it, what are you going to pack for your long emergency? And number one on my list is seeds, even if you don’t plan on growing them."
Creating balance in our gardens is so important too, he tells us, especially within the insect populations. Humans have basically waged chemical war on the insect kingdom and we need to let them be, and create habitats which enable them to re-establish balance within their own populations.
"You do end up sharing some of what you grow." he says "I think it’s an unrealistic expectation to think that you are going to get 100% of everything you grow. It’s arrogant to want 100% of everything you grow."
McGuire explains that humans have lived close to the land for most of their existence, but right now we are living in the bubble, the tiny blip of time where machines have granted us the dubious privilege of being separate from the earth.
"And that’s what’s missing", McGuire adds. "We buy all of our food and our food is grown in a toxic soup and its de-mineralised soil. So it’s really linking up all of these essential factors of health. Even if there wasn’t peak oil pending, it’s a better way to live- to get your own food from your own place."
Watch the episode above to hear more of what Scott McGuire has to say and follow him and Janaia on a tour of his wonderfully productive garden.
Definitely food for thought!
Part II – Four Years Later….
Janaia Donaldson revisited Scott McGuire four years after his experiment began, to find out his thoughts.
He sends out a hopeful vision to those who feel lost, who don’t know what the future holds for them. Grow food, he tells us, and goes on to make us aware of the tremendous value in feeding people, as without food nothing else really matters. “In a way, it’s a very high calling to feed people.” he enthuses.
He impresses on us the great importance of becoming more involved with our food supply. Even if we can’t all grow lots of food, we need to rebuild the network, to know our farmers and growers like we know a mechanic or dentist.
McGuire urges us to cease living in little boxes of time and to re-frame our lives around the growing season. “Part of being in a plant culture, being a plant based people, is living your life grounded in the growing season of your place. If the growing season of where you live defines your life, then it’s gonna be a pretty rich life!”
I asked host, Janaia Donaldson, for her thoughts on her conversation with Scott McGuire: “For Scott, the two things that stand out are the relationships he makes with the plants — as living, intelligent beings, and his keen awareness of peak oil and the need to prepare together, in mutual support.”
There is so much more in this episode than I have room to go into here. Some very interesting and unusual concepts and ideas, to feed more than just the stomach, in this thought provoking episode. Be sure to watch it for more of Scott McGuire’s wisdom and unique vision.
Scott McGuire has a 2 DVD set available for sale called Backyard Sustainable Gardening, which would be well worth purchasing if you’re interested in learning about Scott’s techniques.