Secret Garden of Survival-How to Grow a Camouflaged Food Forest author Rick Austin left the corporate world to embark on a labor of love and a quest for self-reliance. Austin has toured the county teachers others how to grow a secret survival garden and become more self-reliant. Austin’s off the grid living advise is designed to help his fellow Americans not just survive a natural or man-made disaster, but to thrive in the face of adversity.
Rick Austin also recently appeared on an episode of National Geographic’s Doomsday Castle, where he taught the cast how to grow a camouflaged garden. Austin and female prepper phenom known as Survivor Jane are currently writing instructional “Budget Preps” based upon the preparedness projects featured in Doomsday Preppers, for the National Geographic network.
The vulnerability of the power grid is one of the primary motivations for thousands of Americans who have become preppers or opted for a homesteading lifestyle. The Carrington Event of 1859 should serve as a cautionary tale about the extreme impact a strong Earth-directed solar flare could have on our everyday lives. Both a natural disaster like a solar flare and a man-made tragedy like an EMP attack have the ability to take down our overly-taxed power grid.
While growing or raising your own food is perhaps the most self-sufficient approach to preparing for disaster or living a less expensive and healthier lifestyle, long term food storage products are also a vital aspect of overall preparedness. If weather of disease destroys your food supply, the buckets of long-term food items stored in your basement or pantry can mean the difference between life and death.
Interview with Secret Garden of Survival Author Rick Austin
How would an EMP effect life as we know it?
Rick – There would be mass panic, society would unravel, and the “have-nots” would take from the “haves” to feed themselves and their families. People would die quickly in the cities, and many of the survivors would “head out toward the country” to find food and resources. We would be blind, without radio, television, or any form of communication; we would be without gas pumps, and without transportation. Just about every vehicle today is run by computer chips. The grocery stores would be out of food within hours-and could never be replenished again.
The man-made version of an EMP is one of the things that those “in the know” fear the most, and are not talking much about. Why would our government really be worried about Iran or North Korea getting one measly little atomic weapon? Well, that is because one weapon launched from a cargo ship over the center of our country would cause an EMP that would take down our entire power grid, and that would, in less than one second, fry every computer, cell phone, ATM, and electronic device in the country.
What pitfalls would well-prepared Americans face after an EMP attack or downed power grid?
Rick – If you are a homesteader, prepper, or just have a traditional garden in your yard, you and your family will be a “target” for the hordes of “locusts” that will be hungry and wandering the countryside, consuming everything in their path. The great thing about having a secret garden of survival, is that in a situation like the one above, the starving hordes will most likely pass by your house, because your garden doesn’t look like a garden- in fact, it looks like the property was abandoned.
My book, the Secret Garden of Survival-How to Grow a Camouflaged Food-Forest is about having a homestead garden that doesn’t even look like a garden. It looks like overgrown underbrush. It looks “natural” because it is the way that nature grows things. Nature does not grow plants in nice, neat, straight rows, nor does it grow fruit on trellises, etc. Nature grows things wildly, and plants naturally work together in symbiotic relationships that intermingle, intertwine, and ultimately benefit one another.
On the other hand, this secret garden of survival permaculture food-forest, actually grows five times more food per square foot than traditional gardens, it grows in three dimensions, and you don’t need to use pesticide or fertilizer to make it grow. Where are you going to get pesticide and fertilizer after the grid goes down anyway?
Using my secret garden of survival concept, you plant only once, and then harvest for the next 30 years. You, and your livestock, can live off perennial fruits, nuts, and berries for the balance of your lifetimes. And you don’t need to weed, use fertilizer, use pesticide, and to top that off, no-one will even know you have a garden planted there.
What is the difference between homesteading and typical farming?
Rick – In my view, typical farming today is based on the paradigm of mechanized farming that uses machinery and petrochemicals (fertilizers and pesticides) with mono crops planted in rows, so that machines can more easily harvest these crops in a manner that will maximize yield and bring more produce to market in a short period of time. Unfortunately, this typical farming has stripped the land of its nutrients to the point that the same food in the grocery store today has one-third of the nutrients that those fruits and vegetables had in the 1960s.
That means that you would have to consume three times the food today that you would in the 1960s to get the equivalent amount of nutrients. Maybe our national obesity problem might have something to do with our bodies starving for nutrients that we cannot obtain, no matter how much we stuff ourselves full of food.
Homesteading, on the other hand, is about growing enough food to support yourself and your family. It is much less about making a business out of selling produce, and more about having a “back to the land” lifestyle, and being self-reliant. Homesteading is about growing your own food, taking care of yourself, and to a larger degree, living on less consumer products, less electricity, and being less dependent on having to earn a paycheck in order to eat and have a roof over your head. I think homesteading is a lifestyle choice. It is the way most families lived before World War I, and many of that old homesteading knowledge was becoming lost as that generation of people passed away.
However, recently we have seen more and more people becoming interested in this simpler, less complex lifestyle and I am seeing a resurgence in people wanting to learn these old homesteading techniques.
Is there a link between the homesteading and prepper lifestyle?
Rick – I see that some preppers are homesteaders, and some homesteaders are preppers. But there are a lot of preppers out there that may have a bug-out location, however, they are not now living that kind of lifestyle. I think that is dangerous for them. You have no idea what you will be up against, until you live that lifestyle every single day. The time to learn how to grow your own food, take care of livestock, and preserve your own food, is before there is a crisis situation.
Furthermore, I see a lot of preppers that still have a consumer oriented mind-set and think that they can buy their way out of a disaster situation. They may have all the toys, gadgets, weapons, and prepackaged storage foods, but they have no plan for the day – in a long term scenario like an EMP -when they have to fend for themselves once their food and water stores have run out. And because they simply bought their food stores as another packaged consumer product, they do not have the skills it takes to grow what they will need to replenish it. In my experience, most people today cannot even recognize food unless it is packaged and labeled. They could not tell you what a food growing plant was in the field, and most would starve to death, with food right under their nose.
Has there been an increase in people living a homesteading lifestyle in recent years, or is the topic just gathering a lot more news attention now?
Rick – I see there is a real resurgence in homesteading, in self-sufficiency, and in wanting to be self-reliant. I find people are becoming more educated about the “homesteading arts,” in part, because they have seen that they cannot rely on governments to save them in times of crisis.
However, I also see that it is more than just disaster preparedness. I think people are wanting a simpler, less stressful life, and there is a great deal of personal satisfaction from being able to pick your own food, collect your own eggs, and consuming milk, butter, and cheese from your own livestock. And it is a far healthier lifestyle, with better quality food, and less chemicals.
How difficult is it for a novice to begin a homesteading lifestyle? How do you get started in the self-reliant lifestyle?
Rick – For the most part I think people just lack information. They can do it, and there are more sources of information available today than ever before. You can do searches on the web, and find websites and videos on how to do just about everything in homesteading.
My advice is to take advantage of gathering that knowledge now- before an EMP. Because after that, you can forget about searching the web for anything. Ultimately, you have got to make the leap. You can’t just have one foot in the city and one in the country. At some point, if you are really going to be self-reliant, you have to just make the switch and learn by doing it.