Finding an FLX Homestead: Time and Space

With Spring blooming around me, and my Backyard Homestead book by my side, I’m paralyzed by the task of determining where our adventure begins.
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Photo by Carol Topalian

By Abigail Henson, Founder of Farm Girl Juicery

I once saw a video of a man that created a portrait of Chuck Norris strictly by karate chopping his canvas with paint that lined the sole of his foot and the edge of his hand. He had arrived at the idea after years of crippled creativity along with the curse of unlimited access to art supplies—and time. He cured himself with the concept of self-imposed limitations. 

With Spring blooming around me, and my Backyard Homestead book by my side, I’m paralyzed by the task of determining where our adventure begins.  The book boasts of abundant bounties, claiming a ¼ acre can reap up to 2,000 pounds of produce.

I’m looking through our large picture window in the kitchen, and I see fruit trees, feathery strands of hops, and honey bees dance in my imagination next to the heirloom tomatoes, an alphabet herb garden, and a forest of paper-lanterned ground cherries. I dream of days filled with picking, packing, soup-making, and pickling. 

My eyes fall to a basket of neglected red potatoes on our kitchen counter—mocking me with their alien-like tentacles, impressively spry, against their slightly withered bodies. I couldn’t even manage to get four potatoes in a pot, how am I ever going to find time to homestead? 

And then, I look at the potatoes again. They are not rotted … they are chitted!

“Chitting” or “green sprouting” is a term that refers to giving your potatoes time inside to transform from dinner potatoes into seed potatoes. My mind quickly skips to the 5-gallon bucket with a drilled bottom for drainage, and a spare box of organic soil samples I had scored at the last Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA NY) conference, both waiting for me in the garage.

This mantra repeats itself: ”Do what you can, with what you have.” I feel triumphant. For less than $10, and an hour of my time, I might just get myself 4lbs of captive potatoes. 

In a land of possibilities, limitations can guide us. I have no intention of stopping there—my one hopeful bucket of chitted potatoes. I’m just grateful for the spark to begin somewhere.

Abigail Henson is a Natural Gourmet Chef, and Founder of Farm Girl Juicery, which serves cold-pressed juices, plant-based smoothies, and homemade soups in downtown Syracuse. Follow on social media at @farmgirljuicery, visit or stop by the stall at 484 South Salina Street, Syracuse, NY 13202.

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