Summer Projects: Food Storage and Urban Farming

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My parents have been really concerned with food storage lately, and feeling an urgency to get it in place.  As such, they are looking at ways to augment the food storage they already have in as many ways as possible.  The main method?  Self-sufficient urban farming.  I've talked about urban farming before.  It's a process of growing and raising farm food in an urban environment while complying with city ordinances.  Now, most cities allow quite a lot of latitude, depending on the reaction of the neighbors.  So if you are not on good terms with your neighbors, you may want to warm them up to you.  The first and easiest method of urban farming is growing a garden.  many people will plant whole sections of their yards in garden, others in selected areas.  I chose selected areas, because our yard isn't that big to begin with.  I have one small section in the back that has some eggplant, artichokes, corn, beans, pumpkin, peas, radishes, lettuce, cucumber and grapes growing.  It's small, so there isn't a lot growing in this location.  But the plants are well managed, allowing for good usage of the land.This week I will be planting some watermelon in the front yard, in what is currently a garden plot covered with bark.  It will give the appearance of green in the plot while utilizing less water.  Why less water?  Because the bark and weed barrier will keep the weeds down, leaving more water for the melons.But, because the food that is grown isn't going to be able to feed us all, or provide all the nutrients we need, more needs to be done.  Unfortunately, there isn't enough land in an urban environment to have livestock (nor is it zoned as such, generally).  So, what can one do to get their farm-fresh foods?First, you can learn how to make cheese.  I've tried one recipe, and the cheese was pretty good.  Now, this summer my family and I will be making more cheeses by investing in some cultures, rennet, and probably building a cheese press.  Cheese was originally developed as a way to provide the benefits of milk and milk protein without worrying about it going sour in a short amount of time.Next, there is preserved meats.  We plan on making jerky this summer, along with some bottled and preserved meats.  It requires some investment in a bath bottler (instead of just steam), but it's worth it in the end.  Along with that, my family has a killer recipe for sweet pickled beets, dill pickled green beans, and hot pickled carrots.  Perhaps this year I'll get to use my purple carrots I planted (assuming my son hasn't killed them all already).  But once you have all this done, where do you store them?  A basement is great if it's rarely used.  Unfortunately, our basement is being used.  So what to do?  Well, you can build a root cellar.  Root cellars are great, because they can double as cheese caves.  They stay naturally cool in summer, and don't freeze in the winter.  Also, they don't have to be really large.  You can build a small pit that is covered (so no one falls in), and then cover it up with a decent covering.  As long as there is a drainage area for rain, you should be good to go.  So, are we planning on the end of the world?  Is that why we are going nuts with this urban farming plan?  No, not really.  It's because we want to have good food, save some money on gas and buying at the store.  It's all about economics.  The fact that the food supply will still be useful and very viable in the case of a disaster is just icing on the cake.  And the real great thing about these projects this time is my wife's support of it.  Before she thought I was just crazy, but now she understands the benefits of fresh vegetables and fruits that are just a short walk away.