View Full Version : Economic survivalists take root

04-16-2009, 12:48 PM
Economic survivalists take root

By Judy Keen, USA TODAY

When the economy started to squeeze the Wojtowicz family, they gave up vacation cruises, restaurant meals, new clothes and high-tech toys to become 21st-century homesteaders.
Now Patrick Wojtowicz, 36, his wife Melissa, 37, and daughter Gabrielle, 15, raise pigs and chickens for food on 40 acres near Alma, Mich. They're planning a garden and installing a wood furnace. They disconnected the satellite TV and radio, ditched their dishwasher and a big truck and started buying clothes at resale shops.

"As long as we can keep decreasing our bills, we can keep making less money," Patrick says. "We're not saying this is right for everybody, but it's right for us."

Hard times are creating economic survivalists such as the Wojtowicz family who are paring expenses by becoming more self-sufficient.

Reviving "almost lost" skills and preparing for tough days make people feel more in control, says Charlotte Richert, consumer sciences educator for Oklahoma State University's Extension Service in Tulsa County.

Karen Gulliver, MBA program chair at Argosy University in Eagan, Minn., expects the movement to grow as the sour economy forces people to reassess priorities. People are asking, "Do I really want to be 100% vulnerable with no self-sufficiency skills if something happens?" she says.

Some signs of the trend:

•Stockpiling. When the stock market drops, orders surge for freeze-dried food, survival kits and emergency supplies, says Nitro-Pak president Harry Weyandt. One best seller: a $3,375 food reserve that feeds four people for three months.

•Gardening. Sales of vegetable seeds and transplants are up 30% from 2008 at W. Atlee Burpee, the USA's largest seed company. The National Gardening Association says 7 million more households will grow food this year than in 2008 — a 19% rise. A book on building root cellars is the top seller at Johnny's Selected Seeds in Winslow, Maine, supervisor Joann Matuzas says.

•Canning. Jarden Corp. says sales of its Ball and Kerr canning and preserving products are up more than 30% from 2008. Sonya Staffan, owner of The Jam and Jelly Lady commercial cannery in Lebanon, Ohio, is offering twice as many classes this year.

•Sewing. More people are learning to sew so they can mend clothes and make home décor, says Rachel Cohen, spokeswoman for SVP Worldwide, owner of sewing-products makers Singer and Husqvarna Viking.

•Relocating. Steve Saltman, general manager of LandAndFarm.com, a national real estate company, says more customers want to "live simply in a less-expensive place." Jonathan Rawles of SurvivalRealty.com says more people moving to rural areas "are specifically worried about economic and social instability."

Patrick Wojtowicz's family decided to transform their lives when his paycheck began to shrink last year. A truck driver, he was spending more time on the road, paying his own expenses while waiting for loads. He disliked being away from home for weeks at a time and worried about losing his job. Melissa Wojtowicz is self-employed and works from home.

Their dual paychecks allowed them to live comfortably, but they weren't satisfied, Patrick says. "We would basically buy stuff to feel good," he says. "When that stuff stopped filling the voids we had, we started analyzing what it was that we were really missing. We were missing being around each other."

Interesting. I have seen more people at fabric stores lately but I didn't tie that to the economy.

USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/news/offbeat/2009-04-14-survivalistsinside14_N.htm)

04-16-2009, 03:00 PM
A couple of neighborhoods in Detroit have community gardens, where they raise vegetables for the neighborhood. Produce can be expensive, but everyone needs to eat fresh fruit and veggies. Seeds are cheap (and sometimes free, from a couple of charities and churches) and Food Stamps cover them.

I'm not sure I'd want to eat the veggies from some parts of town, that used to be industrial sites or near that old lead smelt on Nevada Street, but other parts of town the soil is probably okay for gardening. I pass one of the community gardens on my way home from work-they get a lot of corn and tomatoes growing every year, from what I can see.

04-16-2009, 04:06 PM
Interesting. I have seen more people at fabric stores lately but I didn't tie that to the economy.

USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/news/offbeat/2009-04-14-survivalistsinside14_N.htm)

I don't even know where to find a fabric store in my area. Yarn shops, yes, but not fabric stores.

04-17-2009, 07:29 AM
I guess I have always been an "economic survivalist" then. My wife and I are both professionals, but we own. live on, and work (part time) about 20 acres of a 75 acre piece of land that I bought ages ago when land was "dirt" cheap. We have always grown the bulk of our vegetables and slaugher 1 steer, 2 pigs and 2 sheep every year which provides most of the meat we eat. I kill a half a dozen deer (2 are donated to hunters for the hungry) a couple of turkeys, some doves and some quail round to out our caloric needs and keep the diet interesting.

I have never been much of one to buy what I could either grow, make, or build myself.