Sustainable living has become an all-consuming passion for many Americans. Some have developed various ways of integrating aspects of agricultural traditions and sustainable farming into modern living. The benefits include saving money, ensuring safe foods, and encouraging family unity through these projects. Sustainable gardening and small animal farming are also very educational for children who can learn about scientific concepts like ecosystems, photosynthesis, and sustainability.
Many sustainable living practices and various ways to grow and raise food are complicated or require special farming equipment, but these simple, sustainable ideas are designed for rural, suburban, or, in some cases, even apartment living. It is important not to get too discouraged when reading the progress of others online. Most of these people have been living sustainably for years, and one cannot hope to equal their progress overnight. The best suggestion is to start slow with one method and then gear up gradually to another.
Sustainable living has health benefits too, especially mental health benefits. Working with plants and soil especially offer a certain peace of mind, plus all the food raised at home yields natural food free of additives.
1. Square Foot Gardening Is Space Efficient
Of all the ways to raise food, this method is perhaps the most basic, according to Square Foot Gardening. Simply build a box-like frame of non-treated six-inch wide lumber not more than four feet wide and place it over a weed mat or some landscaping fabric. This keeps weeding to a minimum. Then fill it with potting soil, wet down the soil until it is saturated, and plant the vegetables.
Tip: Due to the shallow six-inch box, corn doesn’t work well contained and should be planted in the ground outside the box. That is another of many ways to raise food.
2. Container Gardening Saves Time And Space
Sustainable living can be hard without a lot of space, but container gardening bridges that gap so that even apartment dwellers can grow at least some of their own food. Most garden vegetables can be raised in pots, laundry tubs, or other containers just as simply as house plants. They can be placed on balconies, patios, window boxes, or simply left near a window. Grow lights can also be used if necessary. For more information, see this resource from the University of Illinois Extension.
Tip: Potatoes both sweet and white can be planted in tubs, barrels, or totes for a really big yield.
3. Aquaponics Is Like Building A Small Sustainable Ecosystem
There are ways to grow and raise food that include both vegetables and protein sources, and one of those is aquaponics. In this method, raising fish and growing vegetables at the same time is made simple. It is a bit like container gardening except there is no soil — only a stone-like medium safe for fish. Water circulates through the containers down to the fish and then back up through a fountain pump into the vegetable planter. The water circulates by way of a system of PVC pipes and valves that work automatically. The water flowing from fish to plants and back, providing natural fertilizer for plants and natural cleansing and filtering of the water for the fish.
This sustainable living method is very scalable from an aquarium-sized rig with a single planter to a four-by-10 fish container feeding numerous planters. There are many options for large fish tanks, including commercially produced four-foot by four-foot by four-foot plastic containers with metal frames used for transporting food liquids in bulk. Barrels can also be used.
Tip: While this way to raise and grow food is quite efficient, safety comes first. Be very careful when placing a large container of water on a surface that it is strong enough to withstand the weight. That includes the floors in homes. It is better to have several small containers than let one large one destroy the house. See the Aquaponics Source for more info, or check out Friendly Aquaponics, which promises to make the process easy.
4. Raising Backyard Chickens Is Fun
Sustainable living is almost typified by backyard chickens. Raising them and protecting them from dogs and wildlife can be challenging, but it is highly rewarding as well. Chickens can be raised for both eggs and meat, but most people just use the eggs these days.
When it comes to sustainable living and ways to raise food simply, this is a great way to get protein without slaughtering an animal. A half a dozen chickens will produce at least three or four eggs a day, so calculate how many are needed and build a coop or chicken tractor to fit them. A chicken tractor is a portable coop that can be moved around the lawn to rid it of insect pests. This is a good enough reason to have chickens. They are great natural exterminators. Backyard Chickens is an excellent resource for raising chickens.
Sustainable living and learning many different ways to raise and grow food can be fun and rewarding.
[Image via Hannamariah/Shutterstock]