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Goodbye Rat Race, Hello Vegetable Garden

Proving the international appeal of a “radical homemaker” lifestyle, Canada’s Globe and Mail profiles local families that have made the transition. These are people who have chosen to opt out of the rat race and live their lives according to their most precious values: environmental sustainability, social justice, family, and community. They’ve stopped defining themselves by what they do to make money and are re-learning useful skills, like growing their own food, cooking, mending clothes, raising chickens, keeping bees—even making handcrafted jewelry and blacksmithing.

From the Globe and Mail:

It can get a little awkward when people ask Rick Juliusson what he does for a living.

“I – I’m a stay-at-home dad,” is his standard reply.

Mr. Juliusson notes he’s also many other things – an independent farmer, a writer and a contract consultant for non-profit organizations. But since he quit his job as an executive director of a Vancouver-based international development agency a year and a half ago and moved his family to a five-acre farm in Duncan, B.C., Mr. Juliusson considers his main role as a father to his two young boys.

“It’s very hard for people to slot me in as ‘Dad,’ ” he says. Even though he embraces his identity as a stay-at-home parent, he says, “to get out of the habit of defining myself by what I do to make money – that was the habit that’s hard to break.”

Yet Mr. Juliusson proudly counts himself among a new breed of homemakers, a growing movement of men and women who are choosing to give up the rat race in favour of looking after their families and communities. In pursuit of a more personally fulfilling and ecologically sustainable lifestyle, these so-called “radical homemakers” are relying less on monetary income and are, instead, picking up domestic skills such as vegetable gardening and cooking to help meet their basic needs.

But don’t think radical homemakers are falling into the same trap of mindless drudgery and relentless servitude suffered by 1960s housewives, says Shannon Hayes, U.S. author of the new book Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture. Although today’s homemakers are returning to the home front, they’re doing it “with a sense of not being consumers in the home but being producers, which takes a whole other level of sophistication,” she says.

When Mr. Juliusson decided to step off his career path, his wife, a childbirth educator, became the family’s primary breadwinner. Although that meant slashing the family’s income of $90,000 a year to about a third, the couple have also cut down on their consumption and learned to grow much of their own food.

Mr. Juliusson tends cows and chickens and grows his own fruits and vegetables. He also intends to learn how to keep bees.

Read the whole article here.


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