Striving Toward Self-Sufficiency From The Ground Up

Daniele Kasper from the Michigan-based backyard country homestead talks about her first steps into hobby farming and self-sufficiency.

by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: From The Ground Up

Daniele Kasper and her horse trainer husband always knew they wanted their own barn and farm. “When we first met we quickly realized that being self-sufficient was a goal we both had in common,” Kasper recalls. “Having a farm and being able to provide our own food was something we worked really hard for early on.”

That initial self-sufficient dream has now bloomed into From The Ground Up, a 50 acre backyard country homestead set in Weidman, Michigan. Kasper runs and shares the homestead with the world via her Instagram account.

Taking time out from tending to From The Ground Up, we spoke to Kasper about the importance of self-sufficiency and key home farming lessons. We also got into tomato canning.

Learning Early Hobby Farming Lessons

“I very quickly learned how little I actually knew,” admits Kasper when looking back on her original forays into hobby farming. “Having a farm is so much harder than it seems. It is so involved and in depth—just growing your own food could be a four-year college degree. There are so many intricacies to gardening, from soil type and what zone you live in to which kinds of plants can be planted next to each other.”

Kasper adds, “I had these delusions of grandeur that it was going to be so simple and easy. Toss a few seeds in the dirt, water and boom, ready set garden! It was nowhere close to that.

“In fact, my husband saved my garden several times this year when I forgot to water. It is a lot more work than one would believe just starting out.”

Read more: Check out these 15 tips for a water smart garden.

Embracing Self-Sufficiency

Kasper says that her goal of striving towards self-sufficiency is a vital part of From The Ground Up. “It’s so important to me to feel like I am not just taking from this planet but contributing to it in some meaningful way.”

Being able to provide her own food allows Kasper to feel like she’s “taking a little less burden off the shoulders of the planet because I am not relying on anyone else to do it for me.”

Kasper adds that an important part of self-sufficiency is also that it allows for the support of small farm businesses and local farmers. “I can grow a lot. But I can’t grow it all, and we are all in this together,” she says.

Self-Sufficiency Tips

If you’re looking to move toward self-sufficiency, Kasper advises doing as much research as possible.

“Learn as much as you can before starting a garden or having animals,” she says. “Get on social media and join groups of other homesteaders and hobby farmers. I have learned so much from them. Instagram has been an incredible place to make friends, get tips and advice and troubleshoot problems.”

After reaching out to other self-sufficiency advocates, ask questions—”even ones you think are silly”—and be prepared to make mistakes.

“That’s all part of the process,” Kasper says. “The more you know, the better you do in the future.”

Read more: These side hustles can help you reach your end goal of self-sufficiency.

Carrot Crops and Canning Tomatoes

This year, Kasper is most proud of her crop of carrots, which she usually roasts with chicken and broccoli or adds to beef stews. With tomatoes just beginning to ripen, Kasper’s also getting into making her own tomato sauce, which is based on her mother-in-law’s recipe, and which she plans to can.

Just make sure you clearly label everything you plant.

“I forgot to label everything I planted this year. So as things started to sprout it was like a little mystery to see what was growing. Also, squash and tomatoes should not be planted next to each other.”

Hobby Farm Dreaming

If you’re been toying with the idea of taking your first steps into the world of hobby farming, Kasper says take a chance and go for it.

“It may be hard at times, and it can be very frustrating. But the reward is incredible. Don’t think that you’ll get the hang of it right away. It could take a few years to really get into a routine where you feel like you know what you are doing, and that is totally okay.

“Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Utilize friends and neighbors and do not be afraid to seek help. It is completely worth it.”

Follow From The Ground Up on Instagram.

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