Members of the house covenant to live as sustainably as possible. This entails using less energy, seeking alternative transportation, and simply consuming less. We have also committed to eating as sustainably as possible. These are some things we’re doing:
1. Gardening. In addition to some space in our backyard, the house manages a half-acre garden on St. Louis Avenue, about five blocks from the house. We lease these vacant lots from the city for $1 a year. In the past we have grown corn, peas, peppers, sunflowers, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, okra, beans, greens, squash, melons, pumpkins, and lettuce. We have also tried, with varying degrees of success, to grow our own chicken feed.
2. Preservation. We try to put up as much of our food as possible. Currently we preserve food by canning, freezing, and storing in our root cellar. What we can’t grow, we buy in bulk at our local farmers market. We mostly keep winter squash, sweet potatoes, and apples in the cellar; we can tomatoes and green beans; and we freeze greens, okra, peas, and corn. We also make an effort to save our seeds from year to year
3. Chickens. We keep a small flock of chickens which keeps us supplied with eggs and occasionally meat. And they keep the bugs out of the garden!
4. Tilapia. In 2010 the house was given a 250 gallon aquaponics tank. We raised tilapia for nearly a year. We are not currently growing any more, but we hope to resurrect the project sometime in the future.
5. Venison. While we covenant to eat less meat, we are fortunate to have a reliable supply of ethically-harvested deer meat. William loves to hunt, and he brings home several deer each season. Butchering the deer has become an annual house activity. We also use the fat from the deer to make tallow soap for bathing and laundry.