When I first began my fits and starts journey to homestead freedom, I felt that I was alone and that my learning curve would be spent researching on the internet and then A LOT of trial and error. While that is mostly true still, I have discovered, in the last few years, several resources where I can meet with people face to face to discuss ideas, learn how others do things that are successful, and just get a greater sense that I am not alone in my floundering.
This brings me to my first resource option. People you know… Start talking to people, find out who among your acquaintances and contacts does any form of canning (or food preserving of any kind for that matter). For me it was my Aunt Cathy. She has been canning her own fresh caught salmon, or harvested bison meat for years. So I went out and purchased some meat and carrots and we spent the afternoon processing and canning and it was FUN, and I learned a great deal. So go out and don’t be afraid to ask people. Many “in the business” of self sufficiency of any ilk are usually happy to share their knowledge and expertise.
Another great option is to find local groups that are into what you are into. Homesteading groups, canning and food preserving, emergency preparedness, gardening, etc. Facebook is an OK option, if you can find a really hands-on group that likes to meet in person. A gardening group I found on Facebook is very helpful with answering questions, and they do regular seed swaps, help with garden projects and giving away of various plants etc. The problem is Facebook can still be a little to shy in the person to person contact for my liking.
My second great find was a local emergency preparedness group through Meetup. I was so glad to have found it, that I became one of the event planners. Most are free to join, some, (like ours) require a small membership fee to attend any classes we put on ourselves, but we also consolidate a large number of “3rd Party” events. These are events that are found from other groups that I am able to cross post on our meetup site to get the word out. I have learned a lot from my meetup, met a lot of knowledgeable people to share with, and through my own research, have been able to share knowledge back. And nothing helps us learn better than to teach. Just a quick search near me turned up many homesteading and other resources – Homestead Meetup.
Being an event leader for my meetup group, I spent a good amount of time researching third party events to attend and post to the group. This in turn led me to my third and fourth fabulous finds! The Master Gardeners and Master Food Preservers organizations that are volunteers through the University systems.
- The Master Gardeners (MG) is a national volunteer organization run by the State University systems and they offer in person classes and workshops on … you guest it, gardening. Their scope spans from rose gardens to fruit and nut orchards and everywhere in between. They are also more than eager to talk before or after classes about your particular interests or problems. If you have a state u near you, you probably have access to a Master Gardener.
- The Master Food Preservers (MFP) was a natural progression for the Master Gardeners. I had more difficulty finding a national website for them, but do some google searching in your area and I would bet you could find something like them if not the MFPs themselves. They offer classes on dehydrating, canning (both pressure and water bath), fermenting, and freezing.
Other resources that have been useful is my local co-op stores which help to run a community education program. They open their education center to numerous outside entities and for a small fee, you can take many hands on classes. In my area, there is also a local farm “co-op” that teaches many different classes for a fee, and also offers internships which teach how to run a small to medium sized farm for profit.
The last resource I can think of at the moment is the local community colleges. Near me, they offer a community education program that organizes classes, again for a fee. Sometimes they have classes relevant for homesteaders. A quick search turned up classes on
So I HIGHLY recommend doing some research, asking around and getting in touch with people “in the know”. Even though the internet opened our realm of knowledge, nothing beats hands on learning with someone who can help with immediate answers to questions. I have personally used all the resource types mentioned above or Homesteading, while the main focus is to be self sufficient, no one can do it ALL alone. Building your resource base now, and developing a sense of community will prove the greatest asset.
Can you think of any other in-person resources that could prove useful? Let us know in the comments!