Giving It a Go. Steps to Taking Back Your Own Food Supply

Ever since I was in my late teen years, I have been interested in resiliency, self-sufficiency and all that sort of “stuff”. With the current crisis, that interest now serves myself, family and friends in good steed.

New Zealand is in lockdown, (self-isolation with those in your dwelling – or bubble as it is being labelled). For us at River Valley, this means that each family has had to hunker down in their own home, while the staff, six of them, who either had nowhere else to go or could not get a plane ticket to fly home, have ended up in the staff quarters.

If you have followed our blog posts over the years, you will know that we have a large organic vegetable garden, developed over the years to supply the Lodge kitchen with fresh, nutritious ingredients to accompany meals for guests.

Currently, with no demand for guest meals, the garden has taken the place of the fresh produce section of the local supermarket. Every couple of days, Melissa updates via Messenger, what is available for anyone to harvest. Miranda meanwhile is still processing the likes of zucchinis, tomatoes, some onions, sweet corn, some garlic, and beetroot into chutneys and relishes. These should store until we reopen and no doubt will be a highlight of many meals at that time – if we don’t eat them all first!

vegetable garden april
vegetable garden - tunnel house

The lodge vegetable garden

Vegetable gardens that abundantly and regularly produce do not happen overnight. I hope the many would-be gardeners who made a run on vegetable seedlings from plant shops just before we went into lockdown realise this. Successful and high yielding vegetable gardens are often the product of years of research, reading, trial and error. In saying this, it is never too late to start growing your own food, and I applaud those people who wish to be more proactive in deciding where their food comes from.

I came across a new word the other day. That word is “tsundoku”. Tsundoku translates as the purchase and piling up of books in one’s own home, all the while realising that many will never be read. I must admit to being, at least partly, guilty of this. (In my defence, there are just so many interesting things to learn about!) However, while I do have stacks of books in the bookcase and piled up on the floor, I have to say that many of the books on subjects such as Permaculture, gardening, regenerative practices and resiliency, have been read.

I suppose people could say, why not just google it? While that is a fair question, there is, however, to my mind, nothing quite like the tactile feel of a trusted book.

For the person wishing to take back some control of where their food comes from, a few of these books and resources stand out as being very worthwhile. I thought I would share several of those that are more suited to the home garden. This list is far from exhaustive and by its very brevity does not include many excellent authors or teachers.



Kay Baxter of Koanga Institute (Wairoa, New Zealand) has written quite a few books. They are all worthwhile. The Koanga website – – has a number of these publications available in both e-book and paper format. There is also an extensive knowledge base on the website. I find the monthly newsletter to be valuable as well. A great place to start.

Koanga Institute

“How to Grow More Vegetables – than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine”

by John Jeavons. In this book, John Jeavons shares his knowledge, gleaned over decades, of how to grow all your vegetable needs in an incredibly small space using the bio-intensive method. The website is –

how to grow more vegetables, john jeavons

Charles Dowding on YouTube.

Over the years Charles Dowding has produced many excellent videos that answer so many questions about growing your own food. He has also published several books (I have not read any of those – yet!). His YouTube channel is here –


Recently by accident, I came across this excellent resource page from Milkwood ( Lots of valuable links here to keep you well occupied during the lockdown.


Lastly, Facebook has many groups that deal with growing your food in your climate zone and country. These can be a valuable source of knowledge regarding what works locally.

I encourage you to give it a go. Taking back control of at least some of your food supply is rewarding, and makes you more resilient. If you are at all concerned about resiliency in uncertain times, then this is an excellent place to start.


Brian Megaw

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