Tricia brought me some garden “overstock” just before she went to visit family in Ohio. “Do you like turnips,” she asked. Not having eaten them in years I said, “Of course” as this is the response I’m choosing to have whenever Tricia offers me anything. I am going to live almost exclusively from what she grows for the month of September… and the turnips are only the beginning.

I can trade what she produces for a few things I just gotta have – milk, honey, vinegar, maybe a chicken or two – but our rule is that these have to come from within in 10 miles of our town, Langley, WA. Plus we decided that we can include 10% “exotics” – tea, salt, oil – as traders have always come through towns selling spices and teas.

The question is: How local can you go… and still have everything you need … and not feel so deprived that you dive into a burger on Day 30.

So about the turnips, I cruised www.recipe.com for some ideas and went with boiling them in some chicken stock with 3 onions from her garden and some garlic left over from Eric’s garden (and salt! and spices) and blendered it for an amazing soup. She’d also given me some Kale so I steamed and chopped that and garnished the soup (well, smothered it) and felt smart, well fed and happy to have started.

We get going in earnest in September. Meanwhile we are fine tuning my 10% exotics and our trading partners for the 10-mile extras.

What’s the big deal, you might ask. People have homesteads all over the country. But this is an experiment of a partnership between a market-gardener and a regular person who likes her treats and doesn’t grow enough to feed herself for more than a week a year. It is a community experiment. Not a rugged individual experiment. The bigger question is: in an era of declining energy and other resources and growing economic instability, in an era when living locally may be the rule, how well might we on our island fare? Can we feed ourselves. Through our little experiment we are beginning to map the food system in our community – who has what, how to prepare it, how to trade, how to flourish where we live.

So to answer the first question: Yes, I like turnips.

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