Starving the Monkeys: Fight Back Smarter
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A Fan Concept
In late April, 2010, a fan approached me with a concept to help independent-minded monkey starvers to understand more about raising their own food, and more importantly, encourage others around you to do the same. This is worth a read:
Project Beanstalk is an initiative started by one of your readers in an effort to get ordinary people involved in the beginning steps of self-sustainable, individual or community gardening. Gardeners are encouraged to participate by giving away extra seeds, seedlings, adult plants, and produce to locals who are likely to start gardening themselves or engage others in gardening. No involvement is too small -- even the container hobbyist will gain an education into horticulture and baby steps of self-sufficiency they would not have had otherwise. The point is a fun and practical way to introduce people to "Starving the Monkeys" principles in an organic (pardon the pun) and tangible way, that, hopefully, has the potential of taking off like beanstalks do -- big results from very humble beginnings.
How can you participate?
Most gardeners and mini-farmers find themselves with a surplus of something. Seeds will expire before they can be used, they find they have more seedlings than they need come thinning time, they have more seeds than they will need come seed harvesting time, or they have a little more produce than they need to sell, or they have way too many garden tomatoes (or whatever) to use themselves. Instead of just giving them away, give them away with a message -- on the packet, or a label, or a strip of paper attached with string or a twisty tie, include "PROJECT BEANSTALK: www.StarvingTheMonkeys.com". Or tell them that the reason you're giving them these seeds, plants or produce is not just to be giving things away, but to encourage self-sufficiency and educate people so they can keep a little more of their money instead of paying it into the "system".
What's in it for "me"?
Every tomato they grow is one less they buy at the local big chain grocery store. Every moment they spend watering plants or harvesting beans with their child is a bonding moment not spent in front of the boob tube. On the smallest level, in cents and moments, you are helping to "starve" the "monkeys" at very little marginal cost to you, the participating individual. And your potential ripple effect is incalculable -- there is no better marketer of a concept or product than the truly enthusiastic convert. You will have set at least one more off into the world, and who knows how many they will spawn.
You will have also invested in human capital and good will -- the recipient of your seeds, plants or produce will remember you and likely reciprocate in some fashion if asked or able at some point in the future. Through the smallest of such "trade" transactions, friendships are built or confirmed, community bonds started or reaffirmed, a token symbol exchanged of what it used to mean to be a true "neighbor". In our transient, modern, urban society, it is doubly important to remind ourselves that we are "in this together", and we have allies -- good folks with shared interests -- right next door or down the street. That bonding reconnection with kindred spirits is invaluable for many of us in today's workaholic, consumerist, "virtual" daily life.
It really is a very simple concept, on as small or large a scale as you wish to participate, with whatever creativity and time you bring to the table.
If you still need tips or suggestions on how you can participate in your own unique situation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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