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Self-Sufficiency through Gardening

Freedom from the state and self-sufficiency go hand-in-hand. One of our latest projects here at Voluntaryism in Action, “Rooted in Voluntaryism,” aims to assist more people to increase their self-sufficiency through gardening.  A VIA follower and volunteer, Roger Perry, is a master gardener with a lifetime of experience.  Below, he offers some basic tips for beginners.  We hope this will be a helpful accompaniment to your seed starter kit if you signed up for our program, or that you’ll share with friends interested in starting their own vegetable gardens!      

 

Before beginning your home garden let’s take a look at some of the basics.

Climate Zones

 There are two main organizations that have developed a series of climate zones covering the entire country.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Publishes one list, and The Sunset Western Garden Book (Sunset) publishes another.  They are based on different information and so their zones do not overlap—you must be sure that you know which one you are using and which one a catalog, store, or label is using.  They are both widely available at garden stores, libraries, online, seed catalogs, and other sources.  These climate zones give you general guidance as to a particular plant’s adaptability to your general area.  Along with your climate zone you should also be aware of your microclimate—the things affecting your specific garden location.  Will the garden be on the north side of a building?  Is it shaded by trees?  Is it at the bottom of a hill?  Is there a river or lake nearby?  All these factors can influence a plant’s ability to grow in a specific location.

Growing Season

This is basically the number of days above freezing weather.  It starts with the average last day of frost in the spring and ends with the average first day of frost in the fall.  This is just a guide; there are plants that will survive in freezing weather and others that cannot tolerate any cold.  The growing season can be extended by starting seeds indoors, using plastic or blankets to cover plants, using plastic to cover the soil, or by using raised beds.

Soil

Soil is dirt, plain and simple.  You can plant your vegetable garden in almost any common soil and get good results.  There are a few things to watch out for—heavy clay soil, boggy wet soil, extremely sandy soil, acid/alkaline imbalance, lack of basic nutrients.  Clay, boggy, sandy soils can be improved by adding organic material—compost, sawdust, lawn clippings, purchased garden soil.  With boggy soil look for the source of the water to see if it can be diverted.  The general acid, alkaline, or nutrient status of your soil can be checked using a simple soil test kit purchased from a nursery or plant store, or you can send or take a soil sample to a soil testing lab.  These can be located through plant nurseries, local college/universities, or online.

Water

Quality of water is not usually a problem.  If you want your water tested, most municipal water providers, local college/university, or testing labs can do so at a minimal charge.  A bigger concern is with managing the water to ensure it is in the right place at the right time and the right amount.  This is called irrigation.  Plants require regular watering.   Newly planted seeds or plants should be kept slightly damp, but don’t soak them.  After they have become established, water deeply and then do not water again until the soil begins to dry out.  Small gardens can be watered using a watering can, a bucket, or a common water hose. Larger gardens need a water hose or a system of pipes, hoses, sprinklers that all may be hooked up to an electric timer.  A system of ditches, dams and pools can help collect and direct the water.  Mulching can help keep the soil moist.

self-sufficiency through gardening
Even with limited space, a small garden is possible. Here VIA volunteer Jeff has cleared some rocks and planted a pumpkin vine in the small border next to the backyard fence.

Mulch

Mulching is the process of adding organic material (Lawn clippings, leaves, sawdust, bark chunks) around plants growing in the garden.  The mulch helps retain moisture, keep plants cool, blocks weeds from growing, and adds nutrients and organic material to the soil as it breaks down.  As decomposing mulch takes nitrogen from the soil, it is a good idea to add nitrogen when you add the mulch.

Nutrients

Plants need nutrients (chemicals) to help them grow. These can come from inorganic (chemical) or organic (natural) sources.  Both types can be purchased to meet specific needs.  Organic fertilizers can also be found at home, although quantities and qualities are less precise.  Coffee grounds, eggshells, banana peels, and other kitchen waste (but no meat, fat, or bones!), leaves, lawn clippings, sawdust and other organic compounds can add some nutrients.  There are three main chemicals in fertilizer—Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Every fertilizer label lists the percentage by weight of these three ingredients (NPK) and then any other nutrients included.  If you use a chemical fertilizer, look for a balanced one.  These contain equal or nearly equal amounts of NPK fertilizer (10-10-10 or 15-10-8).

Composting

Composting is the process of breaking down organic material into soil.  This is done by building a compost pile (freestanding or enclosed).  Gather materials to be composted (lawn trimmings, leaves, kitchen waste—no meat, fat, or bones—and other organic material).  Shred or chop.  Dig a hole.  Put material in hole, cover lightly with dirt, mix it up, add some water, cover lightly with dirt.  In a few days dig the material, mix it up, water it, and add another light coating of dirt.  Continue this process until the composted material is no longer visible.  Now it can be added to other soil, used as mulch, or used for planting seeds.  If you don’t have the time or energy to turn it all the time don’t worry, it will eventually decompose on its own.  A simple way to compost small amounts is to take the daily kitchen scraps and bury them among the growing plants in the garden.  Be sure to remember where yesterday’s scraps are buried and stay away from plant roots.  Another easy way to compost is in the spring and fall when the garden is not planted, start at one end of the garden, and dig a hole.  When you have enough organic material, bury it in the hole.  Dig another hole and continue the process.  By the time you get to the end of the garden you can start again. 

Organic or Chemical?

Many people, especially those growing their own food, feel that organic is the way to go.  Others feel that proper use of chemicals is safe and easy.  The choice is yours.  There are organic fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides.  They may not be quite as fast or effective as chemicals, but they will not harm the environment, they allow for biodiversity, they provide “clean” crops, and they encourage you to be active in your garden.

 

Good luck in your gardening adventure! If you can’t afford starting seeds, be sure to visit VIA’s Rooted In Voluntaryism page to request help.

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November 2020 Organizational Update

As we close on the month of being together and thankful, we reflect on how far VIA has come since the beginning of this year. Despite everything unforeseen and lost in this year, we feel gratitude for the opportunity to serve and help. Voluntaryism In Action has indeed grown continuously, but we know this was a scary time for the individual and the success of any organizations, including non-profits. Our team, our engagement, and our community have grown, and for that we thank you.

We know times are tough for you and we thank you for the ongoing reminder that voluntaryists not only reach out with a helping hand when they have abundance, they also reach out when they have losses. Supporters of the state fully expect people to act selfishly in times of recession and panic, but voluntaryism proves them wrong.

Here’s what we’ve done this month with your support:

  • With the food drive, we helped over 30 families and delivered food to pantries in the Detroit and California Bay Area, offering around $2500, purchasing over 1500 pounds of food so far. Check out our official progress here.
  • We launched our annual toy drive with an initial goal of $5000. You can donate on our Facebook page.
  • Amanda Garvin joined our team to help with social media content.

Our family at the VIA Team wish our community happy holidays and thank you deeply for your continued love and support. May you have the joy of giving and receiving this season through continued voluntaryism.

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VIA’s Second Annual Holiday Food Drive–Part 1

One of our favorite holiday traditions here at Voluntaryism in Action—our annual fundraiser for holiday meals—was a huge success this year.  Our donors helped us almost double what we raised last year, and we collected almost $9k. 

Annual Holiday Food Drive
VIA volunteers deliver food to St Jude's in Detroit.

More families need help putting food on their tables than ever right now due to government encroachments on natural liberties, including the right to simply go to work.  Voluntaryists everywhere have proven their principles by stepping up to help while these basic difficulties are so widespread.

annual holiday food drive
Executive Director Logan Davies and a VIA volunteer deliver frozen turkeys to St. Moses in Detroit.

With these funds, the VIA team purchased essential items for food banks across the country, including St Jude Food Pantry and St Moses the Black in Detroit, Michigan and the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano in California (the only food bank operating in the entire Bay Area due to government restrictions).  Our team personally delivered over 1,500lbs of food!  On the individual level, through our website and personal referrals, we assisted 30 families with groceries in time for Thanksgiving.

Annual holiday food drive
An overflowing palletful of food from VIA donations from our holiday drive being taken to Contra Costa food bank in Solano County, CA.

Watch for our holiday meal assistance forms to re-open soon in time to help with meals for Christmas, Chanukah, and other festive December meals!

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September-October 2020 Organizational Update

Voluntaryism in Action continues to grow! This autumn saw us adding more team members to our ranks: Steve Williams–our new multimedia expert, and Amanda Strong—our new administrative assistant.  Steve will be helping us produce more educational and informational content to reach more people with the message of voluntaryism, and Amanda will help our overall efficiency.

Our summertime campaigns were big successes! Below is a brief summary of them and some other things we’re currently working on.

  • With the over $5,000 raised from our homeschooling and distance-learning education campaign, we directly supplied 69 students in the United States to help them get the most out of their education in difficult circumstances.
  • We also sent cryptocurrency to Kids Compassion Charity in Freetown, Sierra Leone to pay for school supplies for rural needy children.
  • Our essay contest for a higher education grant is set to close on October 31 with the winner to be announced in the coming weeks.
  • We raised over $10,000 for our “Free our Children” campaign to fight child sex trafficking which we granted to organizations who are specially equipped and trained to rescue victims and provide necessary aftercare: Operation Underground Railroad and The Demand Project.
  • An important milestone we hit this fall was being awarded our first grant! The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) granted VIA $4,500 to directly assist homeschooling families with educational expenses.  We will be rolling out this program in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
  • VIA just launched our second annual holiday food drive, and we’ve already surpassed our goal from last year! We will be using these funds to help feed needy families and supply food banks during their busiest season. 
  • VIA’s podcast, “A Voluntary View,” is now available on multiple platforms, including Spotify, RadioPublic, and Google Podcasts.

Our donors are what make all of these projects possible, and we can’t thank you enough for your support!  Great things are in our future, and we’re excited for you to be a part of this with us. 

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VIA Donors Help Combat Child Sex Trafficking

In the beginning of August this year, Voluntaryism in Action launched the “Free Our Children” fundraiser to help victims of child sex trafficking. This is an issue that seems to be widely disregarded by our government and media, or at the very least, not reported on often nor discussed—especially when it involves prominent figures. The shocking reality is that sex trafficking produces over 99 billion a year in illegal profits. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says that the best data suggests that over 100,000 American children are subjected to child sexual exploitation a year.


Thanks to our gracious donors we were able to raise over $10,000 that we granted to organizations that were exclusively working with victims. $7,000 was granted to our partner Operation Underground Railroad, while $3,000 was given to The Demand Project. Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R. Rescue) was founded in December 2013 and was created to safely rescue children and give them the proper aftercare by partnering with safe homes. The Demand Project is located in Oklahoma, where it establishes private residential campuses to assist survivors with recovery. Both organizations have an option for people to become a monthly donor and join the fight against sex trafficking.


It is important for us to be cognizant of the children in our lives and to learn the signs and indications that someone you know or not know is being trafficked. If you see general signs of physical abuse, withdrawing from social situations, disinterest in activities, unwillingness to share information about caregivers, or if the person is frequently in possession of hotel card keys, false IDs, or prepaid cellphones you may be dealing with an instance of trafficking.              

This issue is ever growing and is not as we imagine it. Trafficking can look as innocent as a mother or father taking their child to a friend’s house. As this pandemic of its own expands, thousands of innocent children and adults’ lives are turned upside down. We hope that our efforts, however small on a grand scale, will positively impact survivors.              

Every thirty seconds, someone becomes a victim of this nefarious business and typically they are trafficked by trusted loved ones. In fact, in the time it took you to read this (depending on how fast you read) 4-6  children were trafficked.

If you would like to learn more or assist in combatting sex trafficking, head over to Operation Underground Railroad’s and The Demand Project’s websites. 

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VIA Assists Homeschooling and Distance Learning Students During COVID Lockdowns

In late July, the Voluntaryism in Action team launched our first fundraiser for one of our core causes: Education Initiatives.  For this education campaign, we focused on assisting families through the unprecedented difficulties the government created surrounding the COVID-19 debacle. As Frederic Bastiat famously wrote, politicians and unelected bureaucrats didn’t take into account the “unseen” consequences of their hasty and draconian decisions, which disproportionately affected low-income families who weren’t prepared to teach their children at home and who rely on the public school system to provide many school supplies. 

           

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 VIA was able to raise over $5,000 in direct donations for homeschool and distance-learning supplies for families in need.  With these funds, we directly helped 69 students in the United States equip themselves for their educational goals this school year.  In addition, we partnered with Kids Compassion Charity in Freetown, Sierra Leone by sending them cryptocurrency to pay for school supplies for local needy children.  We are also able to offer our first higher-education grant which will be awarded to the winner and runner-up of our essay contest, which will close on October 31.

This autumn, VIA was awarded a $4,500 grant from the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) to specifically assist the influx of new homeschooling families.  The dissemination of this aid is ongoing, and we continue to work with families directly to assess and supply their specific needs.  In addition to providing school supplies for homeschoolers, VIA also created resources for families new to homeschooling to help set them up for long-term success.

Even without any kind of crisis to exploit, the government and its associated bureaucrats make decisions all the time that do not take individual difficulties and needs into account.  Thanks to our generous donors, VIA was glad to step in and help.

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July 2020 Organizational Update

We went into the second half of the year with a bang with ongoing COVID-19 relief projects as well as more opportunity for personal outreach. Entering the new month, for the first time, VIA is managing dual active fundraisers. Here’s our progress from the past month:

●      Your donations to our relief project to assist small businesses affected by the riots helped: Emily’s Eatery, Midori’s Floating World Café, Coco & Family Beauty Supply, Lake Street Stop n’ Shop, and Top Cut Comics. Read more about it here: https://viaction.org/wire/updates/rebuilding-small-businesses

●      Launched the fundraiser for COVID Relief for Low Income Students, assisting families who are continuing education from home or distance learning. To support the cause, donate here: https://viaction.org/educate

●      In VIA Community, we began releasing homeschooling tips to assist families who are either seasoned homeschoolers or new and forced into it because of school closures. If you’re not yet a part of the VIA family, find our Facebook group: VIA Community

●      Assistant Director Justin Glassman and Content Creator Sam Wade assisted a local ‘Strengthen Your Community’ event, giving hygiene kits and snacks to the homeless in Macon, GA, funded by your donations to our fundraiser: Self-Sufficiency Resources for the Needy.

●      Launched nationwide volunteer program to send care packages to the homeless across America, again utilizing remaining funds from Self-Sufficiency Resources for the Homeless as well as accepting ongoing funds at viaction.org/ to continue to support the project. Donations can be made here: https://viaction.org/causes/community-development

●      In response to the spotlight on human trafficking, we commenced a second fundraiser, Free Our Children: Fight Child Sex Trafficking. If you’d like to support through VIA, donate here: https://viaction.org/freeourchildren

●      We jumpstarted our podcast A Voluntary View With VIA on YouTube and LBRY.tv

●      We are working with a volunteer grantwriting  consultant to start our grantwriting process.

●      We invested more capital in our IT department to become more efficient.

As we look to the future, our team hopes to continue to stand for our mission as we respond to government’s failure to act in crisis and certainty with a voluntary helping hand. To our continued donors and supporters, thank you for making this all possible.

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Rebuilding Small Businesses

2020 has been one hell of a year for small business owners. Already hurting from COVID-19 restrictions and mandates, small businesses across the United States were again hit hard during the riots that followed the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Thanks to our donors, Voluntaryism in Action (VIA) raised close to $30k to aid small business owners in their cleanup and rebuilding efforts. Funds were sent directly to Emily’s Eatery, Midori’s Floating World Cafe, Coco & Family Beauty Supply, and Lake Street Stop n’ Shop of Minneapolis, as well as Top Cut Comics in Illinois and Marza Jewelers in Atlanta, Georgia.

I personally spoke with Anna, the owner of Emily’s Eatery, and she was so immensely grateful for the financial assistance we were able to offer. Although many members of her community had been volunteering in the cleanup effort, she had been getting nowhere with insurance.


We hope all of our followers and donors know what an incredible impact they have when they share our causes and become donors. Not only are you helping lift your fellow man, you’re also helping spread the message of voluntaryism and the love of liberty across the world. When people see us living our values, they are more likely to listen to our philosophy and consider our ideas viable.

Thanks again to our donors for assisting us with this successful campaign to rebuild small businesses. We couldn’t do what we do without your support!

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Innovation Meets Charity: VIA Teams Up With Sierra Leone-Based Charity Using Bitcoin

Voluntaryism in Action (VIA) is now set to work with a charity team based in Sierra Leone, Toni Lane Compassion Charity. The organization was formerly known as Kids Compassion Charity, but was renamed in memoriam of Toni Lane Casserly, the fairly well-known cryptocurrency enthusiast and blockchain pioneer, advocate for Self-Sovereign Identity, and co-founder of the organization. Sierra Leone is a small country in Africa which, not unlike much of the continent, has been devastated by decades of corruption, civil war, disease, and famine.

VIA is partnering with the local charity team and co-founder Mustapha Cole in utilizing cryptocurrency to maneuver around the bureaucratic restrictions of international funding and sending direct supplies. The team in Sierra Leone receives the funds in just minutes and are able to convert it to their local currency, saving time in and money compared to cumbersome and expensive international transaction costs.

Thanks to our supporters, VIA has donated a few thousand dollars so far, but the fundraiser for donors who want to continue to support Toni Lane Compassion Charity is here: (https://www.viaction.org/causes/Sierra-leone-aid). VIA funds have fed over 35 children and their families, supplying them with hundreds of kilos of rice, vegetables, and cooking supplies. Additionally, donations will be utilized to enable self-sufficiency in Sierra Leone, including a community farm and a school where students can learn about technology and coding.

We will continue working with Toni Lane Compassion Charity, and supporting their drive to raise the children of Sierra Leone out of the ashes of poverty and hunger and into prosperity. Those who are inspired by the work of Mustapha, Toni, and their team and would like to be supporters are able to donate one time at the link above, or become monthly supporters of VIA. Monthly supporters can cancel or edit their monthly giving at any time.

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May 2020 Organizational Update

In the month of May, the world continued to struggle with Covid-19, but with an end in sight to the restrictions, the nation turned to a mixture of outrage and solidarity as news broke of another injustice. Between the outrage and some of the violent responses to protests, chaos erupted in the midst of protest and devastated homes, businesses, and lives.

We responded with an ongoing charity to restore small businesses. Despite the outpouring of emotion during a difficult time for our country, we saw some positivity in a new partnership we are proud to assist and continuous involvement in the community. This is what we have to look back on in the past month:

● We partnered with Toni Lane Compassion Charity, a charity team based in Sierra Leone that utilizes cryptocurrency to maneuver around the bureaucratic restrictions of international funding and sending direct supplies. More here: https://viaction.org/causes/sierra-leone-aid

● We kickstarted our charity drive to assist in rebuilding small businesses that had devastating damages from the riots in major cities. Link to donate here: https://viaction.org/rebuild

● Assistant Director Justin Glassman and Content Creator Sam Wade hosted the first monthly live Q&A in VIA Community. They answered questions from the community regarding plans for VIA and how they came to join VIA.

● We continued to use the funds from the Covid-19 relief projects to assist more families struggling with the crisis.

● The T-Shirt Design Contest has been extended and is ongoing as we continue to receive more submissions.

● Shelter Point Distillery shared our article about their project to assist hospitals with the need for hand sanitizer. Article can be read here: https://viaction.org/wire/news/distilleries-are-producing-hand-sanitizer

● Steubens Ltd. pledged to donate 20% of merchandise profit to our active Facebook fundraiser. You can shop here: steubensltd.com

In the coming months we look forward to continuing to assist and partner with those across the globe in voluntaryism efforts and becoming more connected with our community, and to see more progress in June.

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