Y2K Brings Old-Fashioned Food Raising Back Into Vogue

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Old-fashioned ways of raising and storing food are gaining new interest as people contemplate the possible impact of Y2K computer problems on the food supply chain.

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.

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