As one of the talks in the Decatur Metro-sponsored “Homegrown Goodness” track at the Decatur Book Festival, I was interested in seeing how Caleen Madigan’s talk on a hands-on pursuit like “The Backyard Homestead” would take shape inside a church. Surely they hadn’t built a couple raised beds between the aisles of Decatur First Presbyterian, had they?
Madigan actually spent very little time talking about the physical labor and intricacies of keeping bees or chickens, planting asparagus or harvesting wheat. Instead she spent a good deal of time reflecting on “Who are these new homesteaders?”. (BTW, The “old homesteaders” are the 1970s back-to-the-landers.)
According to Madigan, the new homesteader is different in three ways. They want to live in the city, not the country. They want to use farming as an opportunity to create a community working towards the same goal. And they want the literal fruits of their labor to be a “gourmet event”.
She also promoted foraging in the city and referenced nearby ginkgo trees and their putrid fruit; a list by Slow Food International called “The Arc of Taste”, which includes endangered Southern delicacies like the Ossabaw Island hog, Tupelo honey, Carolina Gold Rice and Sea Island Chickpeas; and that perhaps hunting invasive species was the next wave of the locavore movement.
Plant a tomato, save the world. Kill a squirrel and eat it…save both the world and the tomato!