Diane Matthew, an organic vegetable grower in California's San Geronimo Valley, and Anna Edey, a gardener and pioneer in solar and bio-benign designs based on the island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, are among those urging others to adopt ways to become more self-sufficient to avoid potential food supply disruptions, whether Y2K-related or for some other reason.
Matthew is chair of the San Geronimo Valley Planning Group, and Edey, over the past 20 years, has developed a self-sustainable living environment that is open to the public. She has written about her designs in the book 'Solviva: How to Grow $500,000 on One Acre and Peace on Earth.'
San Geronimo Valley, made up of four small villages, is primarily a rural bedroom community within an hour of San Francisco and has a population of approximately 4,500 persons. 'We have the capacity to produce more of our food locally,' according to Matthew.
Preparing for Y2K, Matthew noted, has prompted her community to explore a number of options: growing more food locally, organizing a local farmers' market, setting up a grain mill, and holding a Y2K fair.
The San Geronimo Valley Y2K Group is organizing a Y2K Fair in conjunction with the annual Gardeners' Fair slated for April 24 at the Wood Acre Improvement Center in Wood Acre, the largest of the four villages. The fair will include booths on how to collect, store and purify water; spiritual aspects of dealing with Y2K anxiety; communications and transportation issues; and alternative energy and lighting sources, including solar and wood heating.
'We are trying to get the community interested in gardening and food preservation, such as canning, drying and putting grains into containers for storage, for possible food disruptions. We have contacted local landowners, and two already have promised to put in two acres each of winter grains such as barley and winter wheat. The community is planning on storing some grains. We also want to build a local wood-fired oven for baking bread,' Matthew said.
No date or site has been set for building the oven. However, organizers hope to poll participants at the fair to see who is willing to help and where to build the oven.
In addition, Matthew has purchased a mill to share with the community, if there is interest in handling locally grown grains.
'Y2K is prompting us to rediscover all of these old technologies that have been lost to some extent,' Matthew said. 'The issue of Y2K shows us how vulnerable we are to technology and how our food often comes from far away. The most appropriate response is neighborhood and community cooperation. I see Y2K as an opportunity to build a sense of community and a local food supply.'
Edey, meanwhile, admitted she was unaware of Y2K when she wrote her book.
'I learned about Y2K about six months ago. At first, I was furious. I thought it was ironic, happening now when we truly know how to live sustainably. Then I realized that the crash might not be all bad. Y2K is spurring a tremendous interest in living sustainably. There is more of a feeling of becoming more self-sufficient rather than being totally dependent on big corporations and government,' she said.
Edey grew up in Sweden and learned gardening from her two grandmothers. She came to the United States in the late 1950s when she married an American.
'I found that this is a distressingly unsustainable society,' she said. By the 1970s, she had begun incorporating solar energy and wastewater management in her home and designed a solar greenhouse that garnered worldwide attention.
'My house is a radically different design. It is a big greenhouse. I wrote my book to pass on these designs so that people can incorporate bio-benign wastewater management and food production in their homes.'
Edey believes a quarter of an acre is adequate for very intensive food production.
'The preferable way to do it is have a greenhouse within your home. This can provide extraordinary fringe benefits -- air purification, beauty and food that is only a few steps away.' Edey said. A person also can raise chickens and rabbits for protein in a small animal barn added to the north wall of the house.
Her 103-foot-long, 3,000-square-foot greenhouse is completely energy self-sufficient, Edey said. Among her crops are mixed salad greens, which she harvests year-round.
'This is how you can become food self-sufficient,' Edey said.
Her how-to book, which includes 155 color photographs showing her designs for such items as greenhouses and wastewater management, is available for $35 plus $3.20 for priority shipping from Trailblazer Press, R.F.D. #1, Box 582, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.
Diane Matthew, San Geronimo Valley Planning Group, Forest Knolls, Calif., 415-488-4746; fax: 415-488-1667; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Anna Edey, Vineyard Haven, Mass., 508-693-3341; e-mail: email@example.com.
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