TiP: How do you define “earthy living”?
Riley, Young Earthy Mama: Earthy living is a way of learning to live from the earth as much as we can, while also trying to lessen our carbon footprint, even if you live in the city limits, as in our case. We try to embrace natural living, and that doesn’t mean just buying from the health food isle at the grocery store.
For example: Having a garden, collecting rain water, and processing and canning our own food, all bring up very valuable questions about where our food comes from and why we grow our own when we are able. It also reminds our kids that we can rely more on the earth for our food, and less on big companies.
TiP: Other than the fun bug collecting, how do your kids respond to earthy living?
Riley, Young Earthy Mama: When our oldest was a toddler, we were renting a one-story apartment, and we were given permission to plant a little raised bed garden by our back door. It was really tiny, maybe 3’ X 3’. We took our toddling little boy to the back patio to check on those little plants every day. And even though he was so young, he still loved feeling the leaves, tasting the peppers, and smelling the herbs. At that point, we knew we wanted to continue what we had started once we purchased a home of our own.
Later, when our daughter was only one year old, she discovered that you could eat things in the garden. She would wobble around, and every time I had my back turned, she’d pull an onion from the ground and start munching on all of the green. I would always know she was eating onions because when she really loved the taste of something, she would make a “mum num mum” humming sound while she was chewing. Needless to say, we did not have any onions that year.
She’s moved on to chives now. It really makes me happy that she can just walk outside and enjoy a somewhat healthy snack straight from the garden though!
TiP: What inspired you to become a “young earthy mama”?
Riley, Young Earthy Mama: A huge part of growing up for me was taking weekly or even daily hikes in state parks. As little kids, my sister and I would load up our backpacks with magnifying glasses and field guides, and explore the entire trail. We would look closely at all of the bugs, mushrooms, and even snakes. Our parents taught us to be observant of the world around us, and to appreciate it. There really is nothing more spectacular than Mother Nature.
Years later, I had my own children and noticed the curiosity about nature was something that comes naturally to children. Why not embrace their curiosity and encourage it like my mother did for me? I feel like that curiosity is something people tend to lose as they grow older, and we want to keep that curiosity strong in our children.
Young Earthy Mama’s 5 Tips for Raising an Earth-Friendly Family
1. Garden, garden, garden!
So many people say that they don’t have a green thumb, but believe me, I didn’t either. I still kill plants on a regular basis (oops); but our harvest gets better and better every year. It is definitely a learning process. By our third year of having a garden, I think we’ve got it figured out! If having the space is a concern, don’t forget there are tons of ways to create window gardens, raised beds, or vertical gardens. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with your neighbors and community, as well.
We were able to have a large garden last year because a kind family offered to let us use their empty lot as a community garden. If you are interested in learning more about our urban garden, click here.
2. Can your own home-grown food.
Preserving and canning food is a great skill to learn, and you don’t have to live in the country to do it. We canned 41 quarts of green beans from our urban garden last year. We also got in touch with relatives and friends who lived in the country that had mature apple or pear trees and asked if they would mind us gathering some. Normally, people are more than happy for you to make use of their excess fruit. Our kids love eating our homemade applesauce and canned pears. And as parents, we feel so much better knowing where that food is coming from.
3. Petition for poultry on your property.
With just a few hens, you will benefit from fresh eggs in the morning, and have chicken manure to help fertilize your garden. Some cities allow you to keep small numbers of poultry on your property. You would have to check with your city to see if that is something allowed where you live, or if a permit or petition for a permit is required.
4. Beelieve in bees!
Beekeeping is another great way to live off of the land in an urban setting. Placing a couple of beehives near the back of your yard will help with the pollination of your garden, along with the pollination of plants for miles around. Beeswax has hundreds of uses, and (if your hive is successful) you could end up with around 30-50 pounds of fresh local honey per hive. Raw local honey does wonders with keeping seasonal allergy symptoms under control, and it’s a healthy alternative to sugar!
5. Use your space, however small, to create!
Stop dreaming about what you could have, and start taking advantage of the space you do have to grow something wonderful. Before our family started this journey, we searched for a year and a half for the perfect country home with plenty of land to live this lifestyle. Unfortunately, we realized a country home was not something we could afford. Therefore, we began researching and finding ways to live an earthy lifestyle right where we are, in a 1000-square foot home on a corner lot in the middle of town.
You know what though? It wasn’t a bad thing. We love where we live now, and it works for us. Think of the benefits you will reap. Think about what it is teaching your children, and the memories you are making with them.
With the state our planet is in today, Riley’s tips for raising earth-friendly families remind us that there’s still hope, and great changes in the world begin with what we teach at home.