This is one of my favorite seasons, simply because of stone fruit. For the next two months, I will consume vast amounts of cherries, plums, nectarines, peaches, apricots and, especially, pluots. I wish I could pick these in my yard, but I can’t. At least not yet. Last year I planted apricot, plum and peach trees, so in the future I will have some stone fruit of my own.

But, growing your own food doesn’t mean you have to grow everything yourself. As I type these words, I’m sitting next to a bag of freshly picked cherries given to me by a co-worker. I have surplus berries right now and he has surplus cherries. So, we swapped. Last year I swapped homemade sauerkraut and tomatoes for homemade beer made by another co-worker. This is economic trade at its best; we both benefit from trading our surplus. Do not confuse this with international trade as practiced by modern industrial agriculture, which is an entirely different beast.

What’s important here is that growing your own food need not be an isolating, do-it-all-by-yourself experience. Rather, giving away food or trading what you produce with others is a way to build relationships with friends and neighbors. This makes life much easier and more fun. I’d say more, but if you want to read more, there is an article, The Economics of Fermentation,  by Charles Eisenstein, who says it much better than I do. He eloquently explains why producing more than you need, then trading, is a very practical approach. The article completely changed my ideas about self-sufficiency, running an agricultural business and  community.

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