Friday, July 19, 2013

Gardening, Food Preservation, and the Freelance Life

I just got back from the farmers' market, where I bought 9 pints of fresh raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.  While Mr. FC&G and I will certainly eat our fill from our "berry bowl" that we keep in the fridge, I will also be turning some of these into the yummiest of preserves and the best of frozen fruit.  We know that we'll enjoy them in winter.

While this is a step toward living sustainably, it is also a natural outgrowth of the fact that we are both small business owners.  Read any article on freelancing, and you almost certainly will see the advice to sock a chunk of your income away in savings to guard against the inevitable unevenness in workload.  But what most people don't tell you is that you also have to have mechanisms in place to lower your outflow of cash when times are rough.  For us, gardening and food preservation help bridge any gaps.

As you know from reading this blog, I keep a fairly obsessive tally of the retail value of my garden harvests. Even in the worst years, the garden more than pays for itself, giving us fresh, organically-grown produce that has a retail value far above our investment in seeds and plants.  Obviously, this decreases our food bill overall by that amount while we eat healthy, fresh food.

By preserving some of this bounty (and supplementing from the farmers' market), we are also guarding against income fluctuations in non-harvest months.  If neither of us are having a particularly productive February, for example, we know we can cut back our grocery budget and still eat well by relying on our stocks of tomato sauce, chili sauce, soup stock, jams and preserves, and relishes, all of which add nutrition and interest to very inexpensive meals.  Some of our preserved food, like my bread and butter pickles, are also popular gifts in our family.

It is unconventional advice, but I swear by it.  If you are contemplating a freelance/small business career, you simply must garden as much as your property allows and preserve food to the best of your abilities.  Your budget and your business will thank you.
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