Interview: Jason Akers……..The Self-Sufficient Gardner

Jason Akers is known for his articles in Backwoods Home magazine as well as his podcasts – The Self-Sufficient Gardner and Hunt, Gather, Grow, Eat. I have been listening to Jason over the past several months and really enjoy his shows. Jason speaks with credibility and authenticity. He comes across as a regular guy with great knowledge and experience – not some high-and-mighty survival expert.

Jason also has compiled a huge collection of eBooks, podcast MP3’s, video’s, articles and PDF’s. All of his content is packed into a computer DVD (Food Security Knowledge Pack).

I was very happy that Jason agreed to answer a few questions for me (and you):

Jason – let’s start this off with one of my favorite questions to ask: How/why did you get interested in preparedness? 

 I grew up on a farm in Central Kentucky.  I didn’t realize it at the time but it was a homestead.  We hunted, trapped, grew a garden, fished, raised animals from rabbits and chickens to cattle.  After we moved off the city in my preteen years I used to pack a “survival kit” full of stuff I bought at the Army Surplus and got from my Air National Guard Uncle (got a LOT of free MREs!).  I’d go off into the woods for hours and do things like start campfires, cook my MREs and just chill out.  Later when we moved back to the country it took on a whole new meaning.  I always gardened but in about 2005 I discovered Peak Oil.  I still think peak oil is a concern but its only one of my concerns at this point.  But it was the catalyst that led me to start storing food and learning how to do things without outside inputs.

What motivated you to create your websites/podcasts – The Self-Sufficient Gardner and Hunt-Gather-Grow-Eat?

 SSGP was a result of the things I’d learned throughout my life in the garden based on doing things without the materials most gardeners take as necessary (fertilizer, pesticides, etc.).  I figured out real quick from online forums that people either no longer had these skills or never had them and that a lot of people wanted them.  I saw it as a teaching opportunity.  I’m no expert but I’m a few years ahead of people when it comes to messing up!  HGGE resulted as further realizing that people wanted to hunt, fish or raise livestock but were even less prepared than gardening in many instances.  But I have to say with both shows I get lots of comments and emails with people teaching me things so I take as much as I give. 

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What is your personal philosophy as far as preparedness goes? 

I love guns.  I love seeing a closet packed with food.  However I’ve realized that these are only temporary (but necessary) measures to get you to the next stage.  The next stage is not storing more beans but learning how to grow more.  So in essence I think we have to rely on skills and adaptability and the storage and materials are just there to make the transition easier. 

Survival and preparedness is becoming more “mainstream”. Over the past couple of years I have seen more and more reports that show “regular” people are storing extra food and buying firearms – as well as getting involved in gardening and learning new skills. Why do you think this is?

 I hate to say it but I think it’s a lot of the snapback effect.  The apathy has ran so deep for so long that people aren’t coming into prepping slowly.  Its an all or nothing proposition for them.  I think its great that people are coming around.  Every time a disaster pops up on the TV screen or web I think it shakes people a little bit and gives them a sense of what can happen.  Its hard not to put yourself in the shoes of the people on the ground, living the disaster. 

There are a lot of dangers in the world today. What do you see the most likely situation which people should prepare – both in the short-term as well as long-term? 

 I have to say that my philosophy on preparation is to prepare for the worst.  I think its extremely unlikely but its worthwhile to think about things like Yellowstone blowing or a Meteor impact.  If you can survive a meteor impact you can probably outlast an economic depression.  Its really tough to say what is most likely.  I think history shows that the most likely event is the one that very few people saw coming.  If you look back through history you’ll find instances where 99% of the people had no clue.  How many people can say that in 2006 they were certain that an economic meltdown was coming?  How many young men died from Spanish Flu right after they survived the first World War?  So short term I think people should prepare for essentially (for any reason) to go to the store and your money not work any longer.  Longer term I’d say prepare for not needing money to begin with.

What role do you feel firearms play in preparedness? 

I think less about firearms for self defense (although I’ve had my CCDW since I was 21).  I’m sure they will serve some role if things get bad enough and I’ll keep carrying.  However when I think firearms and preparedness I think of hunting.  I’ve never had to shoot someone but man there have been plenty of times when it was necessary to eat well to make a proper shot on game. 

What are some of the most common mistakes that people make when they get into gardening? 

Most people get into gardening thinking its too hard.  Beginners with a brand new garden usually get a good growing season out.  The problem is with the second/third season when all the pests find the garden.  Most people aren’t strong enough to resist not spraying and praying (pesticides).  They also don’t take time to keep building the soil.  It looks like the garden is doomed.  But if everything is left alone and people companion plant and don’t spray and don’t fertilize things come into balance and the third/fourth year beneficials take hold and the soil fixes itself.  It takes willpower but you can do it sustainably now while you aren’t starving or you can do it later by force when you are.

Do you have an opinion on our current economic and political situation? 

Its not easy out there right now.  I’ve been through a few jobs myself.  With the current national debt situation I don’t see how it can ever “fix itself” and I don’t see the politicians really recognizing that fact.  I don’t know that economic collapse is coming.  But I think whatever eventually happens (probably by situation dictates) is going to leave a lot of people hungry and without work.  I hate to make predictions but I see this as just the first stage of a depression.  Maybe not a “Great” one but it doesn’t really matter when you are in it. 

You offer a Food Security Knowledge Pack DVD – tell me a bit about it.  

 I write a lot (if you can’t tell!) and some articles get published and some don’t.  I figured that people would get some use out of both published (and rights retained by me) articles and those that weren’t.  I offer about 20 of those, all of my podcasts, an ebook I wrote called The Process Oriented Gardener, several instructional videos and about 250 PDF documents from all over the internet about just about every aspect of ensuring your food supplies. 

Favorite hunting rifle for deer?

 Nostalgia says .270 because I used it during my childhood.  But lately I’ve been using a .308.  I absolutely love it and although the .270 did its job, the .308 shoots so much better. 

Heading into the woods – what is some typical gear you like to carry?

 I hate to say it but because I’ve never been lost or stranded I probably go into the woods less prepared than I should be.  I typically carry a knife of some type and my weapon (dictated by hunting season).  I will typically carry a way to start fire but not always and usually some quick food and water. 

Do you have any new projects upcoming or special announcements you would like readers to know? 

 I’ve got some articles coming out in Backwoods Home and BackHome Magazine this coming year that I feel are very interesting.  I’ll also be back in December with new Self-Sufficient Gardener and Hunt Gather Grow Eat podcasts!


Thanks Jason – keep up the good work.

Rourke


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4 Comments

  1. Great article, Rourke.

    Not sure if this is the appropriate spot, or if it appropriate to post a link. If I am breaking any rules, please feel free to delete.

    We all really need to learn to grow at least some of what we eat, both pre- and post-problems/SHTF.

    I just found this today: a low cost seed-starting setup using leftover (or on-sale-day-after) red and blue (or white) LED Xmas tree light strings and a cheap plastic tub. These should be low-enough power consumption to run from a battery and solar charger, generate little waste heat, and with an opaque tub, would not violate nighttime light discipline. I have tried Xmas light strings as grow lights before, not bright enough for ‘adult’ plants, but seem ideal for veggie starting in spring. Worth a quick look, if you start your own vegetable seeds for your garden. Seems like lots of useful info here for us cheapskate gardeners.

    http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/2009/01/led-christmas-light-grow-box-update-2.html

  2. Rourke

    Thanks for posting. I enjoyed writing this, great questions.

    One thing though. You got my last name right in the body but not in the title. Its pretty common with my name.

    Take care man,

    Jason

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