“We think what we do is home economics. Radical home economics. Meaning back to the roots home economics, which makes the house an engine of production as opposed to being an engine of consumption.”
Meet Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne of Los Angeles; they nonchalantly take us on tour of their 1/12th acre block crammed with passion, learning and experiments in low-tech resourcefulness, that results in self-reliance. They have a mini-orchard, veggie garden, chickens, bees, rooftop solar dehydrator, a rainwater capture system, DIY greywater, solar fruit preserver, humanure toilet, rocket stove and adobe oven. They don’t have a TV—this is key—and they share a car and mobile phone.
They also share pearls of wisdom.
“We’ve been through an anomaly. For all of human history, people have kept small stock, grown a little bit, even in cities, all around the world. Just since WWII to now, we’ve had a little period of forgetfulness, where we forgot our common sense, and thought we could buy everything off the shelf and use and use and never give back to the soil and have no contact with other creatures or the earth,” says Coyne.
This is true and a few things contributed to our ‘forgetfulness’. Intensive production and industrial processing made food cheap; supermarkets sold branded ‘products’ instead of farmed ‘food'; council regulations made livestock rearing challenging; and television and advertising sold us the idea that consuming delivered fulfillment and that cooking was drudgery. But I like how she calls it an anomaly; we just have to get back on track.
They are, obviously.
“You shouldn’t do anything because you think you have to do it, that you should keep chickens, you should do what calls you,” says Coyne. “You just start with one thing that really calls you and usually in the course of learning how to do that one thing, you will be attracted to something that’s related to it, because these things tend to pile on top of each other, they’re all linked in some way.”
Both inspiring and doable. Let’s leap into this Brave New World.