Simple and Healthy Lifestyle Options: Small Holding

Image by Kurt Bouda 

Pamela Chan, Editorial/

Do you often encounter online and face-to-face debates about the best way to live your life so that you’ll be slim, happy, well balanced, healthy, and avoid illness and an early death? In recent years, there has been a constant onslaught of shifting opinions and research about these topics in the mainstream media and in people’s private social media posts and conversations. Are there simpler and less discussed alternatives to many of these popular lifestyle choices?

This is a four part series about the Blue Zone lifestyle, exercise choices, the Norwegian concept of Friluftsliv and small holding.

Part 4: Small Holding

Have you ever dreamed about moving off the grid or into the countryside, where you could have your own small holding or homestead? You’ve probably heard a fair bit about shopping locally and eating 100 mile foods that come from your region. Maybe you even like to go to your local farmers’ market.  Growing vegetables is a bit more of a tricky business. Especially if you’re like me and you like to grow your vegetables from seeds. If you live on a property that has good sun exposure, or you’ve managed to get a plot in a local community garden, you might already be a seasoned gardener.  My backyard has spotty sun exposure but I decided to embrace the challenges after having an allotment plot for a few years. I moved from being an enthusiastic allotmenteer to being a backyard gardener or having a kitchen potager. Either way, in Britain I’d still be considered a small holder.

Image by Reija Hirvonen 

Supporting healthy eating with produce that you’ve grown is a superb idea, but how are you going to achieve this goal if you can’t find a place to grow vegetables?  I waited four years before I got my allotment plot.  I heard that the waitlist has grown to six years in my local community garden. This is where the ever expanding options of vertical gardening help.  Take a trip to your local gardening center and you’ll find vertical gardening pots that you can use on your townhouses patio or your apartment’s balcony.  If you don’t have good sun exposure where you live (a particular concern for apartment dwellers), perhaps you could squeeze in a few pots at your relative’s or friend’s homes.  If you’ve always wanted to grow your own food, consider investing in vertical gardening systems and think about the types of vegetables you’d like to grow.  Some of the options that we’ve enjoyed at our home include tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, herbs such as basil and thyme, chives, peas and beans.  You can even buy bags for growing potatoes and tomato plants. Or you can use multiple layers of black garbage bags.

There is an almost endless supply of DIY tips for creating your own tower gardens.  Here are 2 videos showing you what you can do with vertical gardens.  In the second video you’ll also hear some testimonials from users of this type of garden system.

These are just a few of the less discussed ideas about how we can live healthy lives.  Other concepts that have caught my eye are people who live off the grid (or sort of off the grid).  Some families are focussed on living in homes that are as “green” in approach as possible.  In Great Britain you can find the smallholder movement focussed on small scale farmers, backyard farmers, artisan food makers and craftspeople.

Mossy Bottom has an educational YouTube channel about living a small holding /homestead life.  In this video, linked below, he also recommends a course for people who are looking to make their artisan skills part of their small holding and self sufficiency goals.

We don’t talk about small holding in British Columbia but we do have a vibrant and large artisanal food producer scene and many British Columbians keep vegetable and flower gardens in all shapes and places.  Just the other day I discovered someone’s guerilla vegetable garden on the side of a popular road! Many communities also have opportunities for citizens to volunteer in gardens run by the city. Here’s an example in a city east of the City of Vancouver.  If you’ve got a desire to grow fruits, vegetables and trees, there’s an alternative that can help you to achieve your dream – even if you don’t live in a house.

Which outdoor gardening ideas are capturing your attention these days? How have has your garden fared after a wet spring? You can comment about this posting on the Facebook page. Your contribution matters so don’t be shy!


Part 1: Blue Zone Lifestyle 

Part 2: Trying New Exercise Options

Part 3: Embracing Friluftsliv 

What is guerilla gardening?