Marjory Wildcraft: Growing Your Own Groceries

We all intuitively know that it’s important to have access to locally grown food, especially if it’s grown organically.

It gives us calorie resilience in case our standard thousand-mile supply chains become disrupted. It’s more nutrient-rich and healthier for us. It tastes (much) better. Growing it increases our connection to nature. The list of additional benefits is long.

Marjory Wildcraft, founder of The Grow Network and author of Grow Your Own Groceries, explains how we can contribute to the local food production movement by using our own windowsills, planters and backyards as a food production system.

Even those with no prior experience can swiftly learn how to grow and raise a meaningful portion of their dietary calories:

It's a very simple three-part system. To set your expectations, I would say that if you have no skills at all, give yourself a year to get these three systems up and running.

The first is a garden. Just start out with a small garden, I would say 50 square feet, 100 square feet at the most. Start small, that way you’ll be able to focus on it. It won’t be overwhelming. Your chances of success are going to be a lot higher. That size garden doesn’t produce a ton of calories – though you can get about 35 to 40,000 calories a year out of in one season out of a garden like that – but it produces a lot of nutrition, and diversity.

Next get a little flock of chickens. You can get about 200-250 eggs per hen in a year. With just a couple of chickens you will be egg wealthy. Eggs have so much great stuff. They’re a complete food; lots of protein and lots of fat.

Then, get some rabbits for meat. One buck and three breeding does, even in Texas where we only have about six or seven months of production because it’s too hot in the summertime for them to breed, I get 75 - 80 rabbits a year out of that. One rabbit is the equivalent of a chicken. In fact, I have often served rabbit and forgot to tell people, and they just assume it’s chicken meat. You can process a rabbit at home 15 minutes before you cook it.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Marjory Wildcraft (76m:04s).

Other Ways To Listen: iTunes | Google Play | SoundCloud | Stitcher | YouTube | Download |


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I haven’t listened to this podcast, so apologies if I’m overlapping with Marjory.
Back before we lost our marbles and succumbed to marketeers’ persuasions that safe food could be entrusted to the large scale broadacre-to-supermarket model [a bad idea, as it turns out], we knew how to grow stuff. That was also back before we allowed ourselves to be financially fleeced by exotic labels like “organic” and “spray-free”. Back then we just had fresh food. It was often gnarly and much uglier even than the US presidential hairstyle, but it was tasty as all hell, it was nutritious & healthy, and it grew with our love & knowledge… sometimes without even any care or intervention from us – I’m looking at you, pumpkins.
I’m unsure if encouraging everyone to go charging off to grow their own food is an ideal approach [however, it is a lovely one in theory]. It seems to me like a duplication of effort on a large scale, and if future homes condense in size in proportion to rising population density then – well, you know.
I’m in the very fortunate position of having a large food-growing space. However, for a long time I’ve ranted to anyone who’ll listen to me that suburban permaculture mini farms should be tried, i.e. a designated space in every neighbourhood for local food production, using local labour. Pros: make new friends, barter your labour for food – as much or as little as required, gain [free!] knowledge from other skilled growers, reduced chance of crop failure, rotate your gardening skills quickly & easily between different food types, keep chemicals out of your food completely, reduce local fuel usage & logistical freight, entrust your food safety to a familiar source, etc. Cons: a few lost jobs in the supermarket grocery aisles [they can be redeployed to work full time in the mini farms].
In the longer term, people can transition to growing their own food if they want, but I suspect that most would actually like the social interaction [and relatively effort-free chance to buy from / trade with their neighbours]. What’s not to love?

This is a really great discussion! She covers nearly everything food related. I agree wholeheartedly; we’ve been doing the home food production for years now and she’s dead on:

  1. Health, obesity, dropping life expectancy due to processed food, our toxic food supply, eating organ meat, the drop of nutrition of even organic food (11 to 1 carrots for the same nutrition), the danger of the herbicide glyphosate crossover, decline of soil nutrients, obesity due to overeating due to lack of nutrients.
  2. Growing chickens, eggs, rabbits, gardens.
  3. Using garlic for a proactive immune system.
  4. One of the most important things she talks about is how awesome home-grown food is compared to what you buy in the store. There is no comparison.
  5. The medical mess in the US versus home treatment. She covered nearly everything but home-birthing and she’s dead on about self-medicine and the family glue of self-care vs the horror of the hospital.
  6. How health is the “baseline” is you have the right inputs.
  7. How learning info without action is mostly frightening.
    Some things she didn’t cover: hunting, fishing, harvesting (berry-picking, mushroom picking) but she is more urban so that makes sense.

It was like listening to a couple of friends speaking about things. I really enjoyed it.
We have a bit more local food production than she does apparently. Just about everyone who is able bodied has a small garden of some kind. I guess we’ve never been economically secure enough to shed the old ways. My mother has told me that in her generation it was common to get fruit tree saplings as wedding gifts. She said planting fruit trees was something newlyweds did as soon as they got settled.

I had not heard of Marjory before, going to follow her from now on. GREAT interview and it touches on a lot of things that resonate with our path.

Great interview. Yes, the bird poop does wonders, I observed that watching Jack Spirko’s Duck Chronicles series on youTube. He an his wife moved to this lot (also in Texas) that had an inch of topsoil and rock below it. Before long plants were growing like crazy there where the previous owners had no such luck.
And what are steristrips? is that some kind of product I can make or purchase? Tell me more about that please.

Engaging interview – I’ll pass it on to some folks I care about who are becoming local-food curious.
I like your insight, Chris, that learning about our predicament without action leads to emotional overload. I’d like to add that learning about our predicament is an opportunity to process and heal the emotions that come up, so our actions choices come from a clearer mind and heart.
I’ve been gardening a scant 1/10 acre for 6 years now, starting very small with a few pots of herbs and fruit trees. Each year I’ve used lasagna gardening techniques with whatever organic matter is at hand to build more beds on top of the sand and rock that is my “soil”. This is a local-only (no trucking – grow here, sell here) market garden, so production is important. This year the harvest just won’t stop. I finally have a fine village market garden that can feed a few families. I’ve learned so much along the way, and it’s so interesting how developing this skill set is embedding me into the local culture. We already have a strong tradition of food gardening in this area, but still for some people seeing a dried up patch of ragweed turn into this garden is very exciting. I experience growing food as direct, hands on wealth creation. That these seeds know how to become gorgeous vegetables over the course of a summer is also kind of mind-blowing, every time.
Regarding farm animals: I don’t raise animals but neighbors do, and I grew up with lots of them on the family farm. If you don’t want to set up truly goat or rabbit-proof fencing, and don’t want to spend substantial time and money on your dogs and cats, please don’t bother. Just garden.

  • Rabbits destroy young fruit trees. A tree with no bark is dead, even if it’s a treasured variety just coming into production and your rabbits only get out once.
  • Goats destroy fruit trees, and everything else they can reach, even if they only get out once. ( I love goats, but trust me.)
  • Dogs and cats are great working animals but they are also unbearable trouble to all your neighbors if you don’t train them and care for them every single day.
  • Real eggs are tha best!
Don’t underestimate the work involved in harvesting. 1/10 acre doesn’t sound like anything, but after this year I’ll be budgeting my holidays to handle the boxes and boxes of produce coming out of it. Spring and fall are busy here. If your garden is successful, you might be too! Of course some produce will just keep for you –winter squash, potatoes, onions, garlic, some apples and pears, sunflower seed, dry beans.... Food gardening is curative in a way that I value. It lets me start to take back responsibility for feeding myself and my peeps. That most people can no longer do that is a kind of dependency that seems both dangerous and abhorrent to me. Why would give up our most essential function as living beings to agribusiness f#*@r$ ? They demonstrate such bad judgment that their bad morals hardly matter. Time to put hand to shovel. So now I'll take my garlic breath (Yup, a whole diced clove, raw as recommended. Will it kill my sore throat?) out to prep the naked beds for next year's crops.

Dan Kittredge at the Bionutrient Food Association has been doing a lot of interesting work to raise awareness about the declining nutritional value of our food and solutions to improve. Much of this is based on research related to soil nutrient balancing for long term plant health:

Marjory has an infectious laugh and a great sense of humor! You can tell she is healthy by just listening to her. Delightful interview. Hope to hear more podcasts with her very soon!
Am going to definitely share this podcast with friends.
Great choice for a guest. Well done.

I loved the interview. I wasn’t aware of her before. Now I’ve got a whole pile of reading to do on Videos to watch too!

My wife has been following Marjorie W for some years. Glad to see her on PP.
This is where we need to localise our tactics. Our idiot British forebears (the sentiment is swinging towards calling them invaders, with which I agree) brought rabbits here for the gentry to hunt. They almost failed to establish but persistence paid off and then their numbers grew catastrophically. We are still trying to find ways to control and preferably exterminate the lot of them.
Chickens in backyards are a good idea but our idiot British forebears/invaders also brought foxes here for the gentry to hunt. Now they’re a menace everywhere, including urban areas. I hear tale after tale of chicken coops ravaged by the local foxes.

it is disingenuous to not include all inputs to the definition of “home grown food”. for example i can grow a heck of a garden with imported fertilizers, but that is not sustainable… and it is why we grow our own soil fertility by composting green manure crops.
likewise raising, killing and eating animal flesh without considering the feed imports and calling that 100% home grown food is totally inaccurate.
when we think about resiliency and sustainability, we need to consider all the various inputs to that system.