Y2K Brings Old-Fashioned Food Raising Back Into Vogue

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

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

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

‘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

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


Diane Matthew, San Geronimo Valley Planning Group, Forest
Knolls, Calif., 415-488-4746; fax: 415-488-1667; e-mail:
icmatt@well.com. Anna Edey,
Vineyard Haven, Mass., 508-693-3341; e-mail:

289 Fox Farm Road, Brattleboro, VT 05301. For further information,
please call 1-800-654-NEWS or e-mail

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