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Our Growing Family

As we prepare to send the kids “back to school,” I’m sure you have so much more on your mind than the garden these days. We too have a lot more going on lately in addition to carrying out the beta test of our new project: The Fun Food Garden Game.

Dave who has been developing the game also works a full-time job. We have four young kids plus now we are happy to be announce that we are expecting again… This time, twins!

Some of you may ask, how is having more kids sustainable?

1. People as assets not liabilities

In our particular situation, we consider the addition of kids as assets not liabilities.

If you think about the work that needs to be done to save the planet and the people needed to do it, we are investing in people who will potentially become eco-organic farmers of the future. I don’t have the statistics at hand right now but reach out to me 20 years from now and I’ll get back to you on whether or not our kids are practicing sustainability on their own.

As permaculturalist, Geoff Lawton likes to say, “We are more threatened by overpopulation of cars than of people.” He believes we need all the people we can get to turn the tide on the state of the environment.

2. Our children led us to permaculture

If it weren’t for our children, we would not have discovered permaculture in the first place!

Our daughter Zoe, was diagnosed with severe allergies a few months after being born.

She was allergic to:
peas
eggs
dairy
chicken
beef
peas
wheat/gluten
nuts

It was then that we started going slowly organic. First, with the milk, then with the eggs. Then, we joined a CSA. But we gradually figured out that the best organic foods are the ones you can grow right at home.

Our second child Ethan, also suffered from allergies. At around age 2 he turned blue from not being able to breath after eating a tilapia dinner (those bottom feeders)! Thank God the Benadryl had kicked in by the time the paramedics arrived.

We started growing our own food after this incident and bought organic as much as we could. The last thing we have made the switch on is choosing more natural soaps and cleaning products.

Thankfully, they have outgrown almost all their allergies except for nuts. And our third and fourth children have no allergies whatsoever.

Though the sample size is small and we can’t say for sure that there is a scientific correlation between our “going organic” and our children’s slow recovery from allergies, we believe that our efforts to grow organic and choose greener products is paying off.

3. Members of a “large family” have greater potential to make a smaller carbon impact

Despite the number of people in our family, we aim to live a simplified lifestyle. In our townhouse, we lessen the carbon footprint in the following ways:

The kids either walk to school or “carpool” together.

Trust me, our plane flights are rare. The last one dates back to 2012.

The kids bathe together and thereby use less water than the average American person.

They inherit each other’s clothes, share books and toys.

We eat home-cooked meals (sometime prepared by the kids themselves!)

We have more gardeners on hand.

To quantify this a bit, I’ve attempted to calculate our family’s carbon footprint here.

Yes, we are far from being zero-waste. Although I truly envision a time when I have no more plastic in my house and all my waste fits into a canning jar.

But the road to a better/greener/sustainable/permaculture living is indeed a journey. We didn’t start growing our food overnight. Neither did we make the switch to organic immediately.

Anyways, here are the results:

Much less than the average American family of 6 and a little more than the World average.

This is by no means an end all and be all carbon footprint calculator. In fact, this calculator has been criticized as having several gaps according to carbon footprint expert, Mike Berners-Lee. But at least it’s a start.

However, by consciously sharing resources together each of our family members is actually less fossil-fuel dependent than their average American counterpart.

Conclusion

But the truth of the matter is, our children’s worth is not tied to their carbon footprint.

The increased carbon footprint by which we measure how much fossil fuels our actions or purchases burn, is increased by a lack of education in the way we use our resources.

We use a sprinkler system instead of passively catching water.

We ship produce that we can grow in our backyards from across the globe.

We kill an entire ecosystem in order to be rid of a single pest species, instead of helping and waiting for nature to reduce the pest population naturally.

(I say, we because I have done all of this too!)

Neither is our children’s worth tied to the results of how sustainable they live 20 years from now.

(In fact, sustainability’s definition is that the output of a system far exceeds its input. So if you take our family as a system, we are actually more sustainable as our kids now outnumber us!)

Our kids’ worth come simply from their being… From coming about. From the miracle of being created.

Dave and I are their parents, their stewards for the moment.

Just as the planet was given to us, so are our children. We accept the gift with great joy and reverence. We nurture them as best we can and we hope and pray for the best fruits to come from caring from them.

Recently, my friend Emy gave me this wonderful book “Teaching from Rest: A Homeschoolers Guide to Unshakable Peace,” in which the author pays homage to Charlotte Mason (an early American home educator) who once said that “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline and a life.”

“You cannot make the plants grow or bear fruit. You can only plant the seeds. You can water them and steward them. You can cultivate the soil (education is an atmosphere!), thin them (a discipline!), and water them (a life!). It is only by our cooperation with the grace of God and the laws of nature that the seed becomes a plant and bears fruit. We don’t need to have anxiety about when the plant will grow, about how quickly it will come to fruition – our part is to steward it and do what we can so that it has the ability to grow rightly.”

Sarah Mckenzie

Indeed this passage and this book gives me great peace about our path ahead as once again new parents and with each season, new gardeners.

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Comments 9

  1. Congratulation,
    I am so sorry that you feel like having to defend having children. They bring so much and they are the future. I hope everything goes well with the pregnancy. Don’t forget to take it easy. Best wishes
    Marie-Pierre xxx

  2. Congratulations on your new little blessings! A large family and sustainable living are not mutually exclusive for all the reasons you listed. Children aren’t just “resource takers”; they will contribute to our future world in their own unique ways we could never imagine.

  3. How exciting! Congratulations on the twins! Yes, I feel like our culture is finally starting to accept larger families as a positive thing. Hopefully, that change will happen even more, as people like you help present that idea. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Congratulations on twins. Be fruitful and multiply. I’m pretty sure God knew what he was talking about! I think HE can do the math.

  5. Beautifully said. I am a mother of two, stepmom of two more, and grandmother of four. They are all pretty aware of their choices, Iโ€™m proud to say. But we need more good thinkers and writers and speakers and growers to get to the tipping point.

  6. I cried from reading this blog!!! Please send a copy to Pope Francis!!! And to the Obamas and Hillary Clinton and Cecile Richards!

  7. Congratulations, Nicky and Dave, on your beautiful growing family! You are such an inspiration to us in so many ways. Thank you for sharing your journey and encouraging and helping others start their own – even unlikely folks like me! ๐Ÿ˜Š I’m so happy you love the book too!

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