In this, the final article in the “How to Aquaponics When You Rent” series, you will learn that the basic tenants of doing Aquaponics can apply to anyone.  Most especially, you will recognize that Aquaponics is the self-sustaining way of life.

Today I welcome you back for part 5  of a 5 in the series on “How to Aquaponics When You Rent.”  If you missed Part 1, click here. Part 2 can be found here, Part 3 can be found here and Part 4 can be found here.

How to Aquaponics When You Rent – Reaping the Rewards

We have been doing aquaponics while renting for four years now. It has been an odyssey, to say the least, that has brought us more rewards than I could possibly add up. Of course, there have been frustrations and difficult lessons to learn along the way but that is part of the overall process of life itself, isn’t it? Not all of the rewards are tangible but those are the ones I tend to appreciate the most.

In this last part of the series, “How to Aquaponics When You Rent,” we will take a look at some of the obvious rewards such as the new skills learned along with those that I was not expecting at all.

New Skills and Know-How. In the last 4 years, I have reacquainted myself with food preservation methods including water bath and pressure canning, as well as added the smoking and dehydrating, vacuum sealing, and have even improved my overall freezing process of food. I have also learned how to successfully garden aquaponically as well with permaculture as a food source though, to be honest, those particular lessons are never-ending.

I have gotten a few slivers and a quick understanding of some basic carpentry from building our portable greenhouse, seedling cabinet, and various other assorted wood-based projects. I have been exposed to and had my eyes opened to things like animal husbandry and using life hacks to make my every day easier to take on. I am continually amazed through my constant study at what has been placed on God’s green earth to help us maintain balance within ourselves on an herbal level and what is growing naturally that can be nutritious. Through my network of like-minded people, I have been able to get solid answers to questions I didn’t even know I should ask.

As you go on in life, mastery of one skill leads to another to take on, and it all ties together in forming a Self Reliant cycle that uniquely fits you.

Money Accrued – There were initial investments in equipment and the supplies that should be expected and are needed when changing your lifestyle! For sure, we made sure we bought quality equipment and maintain them as instructed, the few extra dollars spent at the beginning are paying off over time. Our pressure canner, for example, was almost $100 but that was four years ago and there is no reason that it won’t still be working well 6 years from now.

You learn after buying the same cheap model over and over again that it is better to buy a quality product first instead of a clunky model every couple of years.

We have also saved thousands of dollars over the years by recycling equipment, repairing, and doing it with what you got ourselves. As I said in Part 3, “Function first, looks second!” That does not mean your home or projects have to look like a patchwork of knick-knacks from the junkyard put together but neither does it need to look shiny and new to be ‘acceptable.’ and do what you want it to. Remember, in the self-sustaining world instead of spending money for what you need, you spend time. That is the overall tradeoff with this lifestyle.

Superior Products – This is especially true when it comes to the food side of self-reliance. Store-bought carrots compared to the ones pulled from your own garden simply aren’t the same. There is no comparison from the ones you grow personally. I suppose one of the downsides of all this stuff is your standards are actually heightened in certain areas and store-bought just isn’t ‘good enough’ anymore.

You can tailor-make things to your own tastes and personal requirements. You can explore those various aspects of food or body lotions, or health herbals you look to intake for yourself and those around you.

The detergent we make and use doesn’t dry our skin out as much nor does it have too strong a scent. So not only did I save money by buying the raw ingredients and making it myself, but I also get to tailor-make everything to suit me and my family.

Instead of spending money for what they need, self-reliant adherents trade time to make or do for themselves.

All of the rewards above are well and good but as I said at the beginning, it was the intangible ones that both surprised me and were more satisfying on a deeper level. Some of them never hit the ‘spot’ when I would daydream about all the things I would be able to provide for myself.

Regaining Control – So often we all are wrapped up in the ways of our society that we fall into practices that bind us to a certain expectation or form of lifestyle. In fact, much of our lives are done a certain way due to government regulations, societal requirements of amenities of electricity, heating, and water consumption, just to name a few examples. This goes for those things especially when it comes to products we use on a regular basis. While the majority of these overbearing regulations are in place for our safety, there are certain areas where we have been removed from the process and have trusted it completely to this agency or that bureaucracy.

When you seek true Self Reliance, even if you rent, you take back some of that control. The food I grow has absolutely zero chemicals used on them (required by bureaucrats for mass producers) and the seeds I plant come from a verified source to be heirloom varieties from non-modified lab sources (totally unaffiliated with Monsanto). I know without any doubt whatsoever that the jar of pickled peppers I open in March next year is safe to eat with nothing added for ‘freshness’ or ‘color’ retention. No Red Dye #5 for me!

I continue to learn how I can break free of the bindings that can cause life to be onerous one monthly bill at a time. How I can supplement my electricity needs with solar and yes, hydro. How I can keep those things I want thriving and growing without paying through the nose for what the city or an industry says I need to have.

I have learned to take from the basics and build, or create, or combine just about everything I wanted when I was not trying to be self-sustaining at all. And those things, soda pop, fast food, and cheaply made goods are no longer appealing to me either.

Confidence Increases –  In our quest to be more self-reliant, one of the goals is to be able to continue living as we were previously as much as humanly possible should something catastrophic happen. While others may be struggling and scrambling to keep warm or cook food (let alone have any stored), we will make slight adjustments and continue on. Come what may, economically, naturally, via unrest, or bad political actors, we have the skills already learned, the items already in place, and the assurance that we can do that whichever climate we find ourselves in.

I have more confidence in our ability to survive and even thrive because of all the things I have learned. I know that I can start a fire, build a shelter, cook food, and purify water because I have learned and practiced these activities. It all starts with a few baby steps before you are off and running. After a short amount of time, you can look back and be amazed at all you have accomplished, all that you know, and all that you can do.

For me, it was a real boost to realize that whether I am in the urban areas or the boondocks, I could make it for at least 96 hours.

Satisfaction and Contentment.

Or for a more succinct way of putting it… complete peace of mind. This is one, quite frankly, of the big ones I was not expecting to happen so soon. I was thinking that after a decade or two I could look back at the work, and the learning, and the teaching others and have that deep feeling of peace. But it happened WAY sooner than I thought it would.

In our world, the ‘prescription for life’ is to grow up, get a college education, get married, have kids, and buy a house. Then, work for 50+ years to pay off the bills and build up a retirement that will hopefully be enough to see you through. This is better known as the rat race, and that is exactly what it is!

It doesn’t necessarily happen in that order, of course, but from the time we can talk, this is the hamster wheel, set out for us to start running on. Many people today suffer from depression and feelings of dissatisfaction or have this nagging feeling like they are not doing what they are supposed to be. I was one of them for a long time. On the other hand, for those who have been told and hold that the rat race is the American dream and they don’t achieve it or lose a portion or all of it that they feel inadequate, and like a loser for not being in possession of what others deem success and happiness.

I noticed as I was harvesting from our first little garden way back when how much happier I was overall.  There are, of course, reams of scientific research that show being outside and working with nature makes you happier but this was more than that. It was the deep satisfaction of seeing hard work coming to (literal) fruition. It was the realization that I knew how to grow food, which is a powerful thing in itself. It was the creation of a system that would work on a cycle in tune with the seasons. I had to get deeper, and more proficient.

Most importantly to me, I was an active, conscious participant in that cycle and sourcing my own and my loved ones’ needs. That year, my spinach didn’t travel hundreds or thousands of miles to get to my plate; It traveled less than 50 feet. I did that. My two hands. It made me feel free like I had been cut away from some invisible chain that I didn’t even realize was there. The epiphany that I could produce sustenance for myself and those around me, while such a simple concept, is something very few people will experience or have any interest in. Realizing that I don’t really need a store for certain things is very liberating.

I wish I could put the feeling into words but words can’t adequately describe the sense of peace that brings to you. The emotional and mental rewards of being self-sustaining, even though we’ve rented for so long, almost surpass the tangible ones. Nearly surpass. The people I have met, conversations I have had, the people I have been able to help and teach –  that resulted from those first seeds, along with the books and numerous adventures all wrap up into a wonderful set of memories and life experiences.

Yes, I often find myself falling short. I get discouraged, frustrated, and think about giving in to the ‘consumer’ way of life again. Especially when I am taking on something new, and unexplored before. How would it be to spend an afternoon NOT making your monthly tinctures, or detergents? The problem with that is I have had a taste of what it means to provide for my own needs instead of solely working a job to make money to then buy what I need. I have glimpsed a life where I ‘work to live’ instead of ‘live to work.’

It is our sincerest hope to have land someday but even if it never happens, we will always strive to be self-sufficient wherever we find ourselves. And so can you be able to grow some kind of edible plants and continue to DIY as much as you can.

Self Reliance isn’t about where you live; it is about how you live.

Overall TakeAway

Self Reliance is a mindset that defines the way we live our lives.  I feel very strongly that reaping the rewards of self-sustaining actions is an important part of our growth as human beings.  And to that end, we must stay the course and keep on practicing to make it permanent for all of us no matter WHERE we find ourselves!