BUY VEGETABLE SEEDS
If you don't already have seeds, now is the time to get some. Most of the garden centers are still open, and most will allow you to pre-order your seeds for pick-up. Alternatively, ask your gardener friends to share some of their seeds with you. Most gardeners, including myself, rarely use all the seeds in the seed packet, and would be happy to share their excess seeds with you. The bottom line is that seed-security represents food security. Opt for open-pollinated varieties whose seeds you can save and plant the following season. I can't tell you often I've stated in my seed-starting classes that I always have next year's seeds in my hand for the following growing season, because you actually never know what next year will bring. Tap into local expertise and learn how to start those seeds and when, and get going on that right now.
MAKE PLANS TO GROW MORE FOOD (OR START GROWING!)
If you're not already growing food now, take a good look at your property and locate areas for growing at least some food. Use your front yard, your backyard, your alleyway. If you're already growing, look at ways you can increase your production. Talk to your neighbors and get them on board to either start growing or allow you to use their under-utilized yards. Share your gardening expertise with others. Create neighborhood work-share coops that mimic the old barn-building work bees that bring community together to help folks remove sod, create garden beds and get growing. Share the work, and share the rewards. Don't forget to share the surplus with folks who need it. Push for backyard chickens. Look to your community and support the establishment of community garden initiatives. Just grow food. Do it now.
Remember those old sayings, "One man's trash is another man's treasure" and,"Make hay while the sun shines"? Open your eyes to opportunities as they arise. Get creative with re-using or re-purposing items in ways that serve you. Develop and exercise a robust problem-solving, thinking-outside-the-box mentality. Realize that there is abundance all around you, once you shift your vision. Old garage door panels make excellent raised beds, discarded wooden blinds make great garden stakes, and bags of leaves left in the alley are incredible composting and mulching materials. Use seasonal currency wisely by saving and storing energy while it is abundant. Harvest that rainwater in the rainier months to use later on in the summer. When green onions are abundant, harvest and dehydrate them for use all winter long. If seasonal produce is on sale at your local market, think about how you can capture that energy now for use later on, through preserving, canning, fermenting, dehydrating and freezing. Learn how to take really good care of your soil. It stores a ton of energy in the form of carbon, the essential building block for all life. As the foundation for all life, it is fundamental to your survival. Soil with good levels of organic matter helps support the "soil sponge", so your soil has the ability to hang on to water. Cycle nutrients efficiently by learning how to compost, capturing that energy and returning those resources to the soil, from whence they came.
Fundamental life-skills are essential for resilience-building. Gone are the days, however, when one person needs to be the butcher, the baker and the candlestick-maker. No one needs to be able to do everything. Do an honest assessment of your resources and skills, parlay your strengths into shareable and trade-worthy assets, and build up your skill set or access the skills of others in those areas that represent your weakest links. You would be surprised at how many skills are already present in your immediate neighborhood, and inviting conversation around this is a great way to nurture hyper-local economy that can meet most of the needs of the community. Learn to bake bread, ferment some veg, rock your garden soil, compost. Grow and share your gardening skills, brewing skills, mediation skills. Share your passion for cooking, seed-saving and woodworking. Get your community association involved in exploring resilience-building strategies that benefit everyone and foster stronger community connections. Collectively take care of the needs of struggling members in your community, instead of passing that responsibility off to centralized agencies. Build trust, collaboration and cooperation, mutual support and shared responsibility. Talk to your neighbors. Start now.
BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR LEVEL OF RELIANCE ON EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURES
We all take for granted that when we turn on the tap, clean drinking water will come out. We trust that when the temperatures dive, our furnace will keep us warm. We count on grocery stores to provide us with daily food, that the trucks bearing produce from California and Mexico will continue to roll across the borders and provide us with mangoes, avocados, pineapples, grapes, tomatoes, peppers, and much, much more. We also count on those same stores to provide us with food anytime we want it, and we have willingly handed over sovereignty of our essential food supply over to not only these providers, who have become our super-sized "pantry", but also to the massive industrial food complex whose primary goal is not necessarily the provision of great food but rather of profit, most often at the expense of food quality and nutrient density. The bottom line is this: What would happen if the grocery stores were not able to provide your daily food, if you could just not pop out to the store to pick up your meats, veg, dairy, bread, canned goods and other staples, especially during the winter months? Having your own well-stocked pantry full of your most-used food items is more essential now than ever before. Don't rush out and buy into the hoarding mentality. Instead, take a common-sense approach, assess how much and what kind of food your family actually eats, look realistically at what you can do without, if necessary, and how long your food stores would last if you bought nothing new. One way to do this is to write down how much of various food items you use each day, and you'll get a pretty good idea of your monthly food requirements. Gradually build up your food stores, eating the most recent purchases last, and augment your supplies with foods you have grown or sourced locally, as well as those you have canned, preserved, pickled, fermented, dehydrated, etc., or trade with folks who are doing so. Diversify your food supply. Gradually wean yourself away from absolute reliance on the grocery store, and support local growers. Eat seasonally and locally, avoiding asparagus shipped from Mexico in March in favor of waiting for the local farmers to bring their crop to the markets in May. That means eating local veggies that grow primarily above ground through the spring and summer and eating and storing produce that grows below ground, like root veggies, in the fall, through the winter and into spring again. Get back in tune with seasonal food cycles. Work with your friends to create a food-growing coop; if you are awesome at growing carrots and each of your friends is skilled at a different crop, consider growing what you grow best and then sharing the bounty as it comes to maturity. Eat food that grows here. Store food that grows here. Store enough, and in as many diverse ways as possible, to help get you through the food dearth that occurs in the span between the last garden veggies in the fall and the new spring harvests. Create a bulk-buying coop for purchasing locally-grown grains, beans and pulses, and keep a reasonable supply on hand. Learn how to filter rainwater to make it potable, should our municipal water become contaminated. Water is life, and without it, we die. It's always prudent to store some water as backup. That's just plain old common-sense, considering how vital it is to our survival.
Consider our long, cold winters and work out strategies for heating back-up, just in case. In our cul-de-sac, we have a few elderly neighbors who, if they lost heat, would seriously struggle. We are fortunate enough to have a lovely little Jotul airtight cast iron stove that has the ability to heat our entire home should the furnace die, and we've had the opportunity to put that to the test a few times! Those older neighbors know that should the situation arise where they find themselves without heat in the winter, they can come to our home to be warm. That's a resilience strategy they know they can count on, and it gives us comfort to know they will be taken care of.
There are countless ways to build resilience, and there are deeper and deeper levels depending on how far down that rabbit hole one wants to go. The key is to understand the importance of resilience-building strategies and to get started now. Wake up. Take responsibility for whatever facets you can manage, involve your friends, your family, and your community, and get those conversations started. It's a brave new world!