“The challenge is simply to create a meal at least once a week with homegrown food. It’s a great way to improve your nutrition, become more self sufficient and decrease your carbon ‘food print.’

“Food miles are important [because of] the carbon footprint that’s hidden in our cheap food. It’s like ‘look at our cheap food,’ but someone’s paying somewhere for something because it’s not cheap when you ship. [Food] coming from Chile or New Zealand, that’s a lot of trucking. If you can’t see [the cost] right off the bat on your bill, you’re going to see it in the health care bill for the planet.” —  Jules Dervaes

We started this challenge a couple years back, and it was very popular and successful in getting folks to eat closer to home.   With more and more folks growing their own food, we figure it’s about time we revive and relaunch this challenge!

Pick up your trowels and start growing your own groceries!

100 Foot Diet – Growing Closer to Home

It wasn’t that long ago (1940s) that people planted Victory Gardens when it became necessary for them, due to wartime shortages, to grow their own food. Now, it’s our turn.

If you want to fight against peak oil, climate change and our consumerist culture, then join us and start a living protest right in your own back (front) yards. Be the change, live the solution! Use your yard (or balcony or porch steps) not only to grow food but also to cultivate a healthier and more fulfilling life.

There have been 100 mile diet and other eat local challenges.  But we homegrown revolutionaries are upping the ante by reducing the mileage to a few steps – to right outside your back or front door.

The challenge is simple. Beginning as soon as you can, prepare a meal at least once a week with only homegrown vegetables, fruit, herbs, eggs, dairy products or meat, using as few store bought ingredients as possible.

The purpose is plain – the waging of an all-out fight against the forces that keep you dependent on the system of petroleum fueled food. The degree to which you rely on today’s artificial corporate structure determines the extent of your vulnerability. Resolve to lessen your dependence on outside food sources.

The result is revolutionary. As you take back responsibility for your food supply, you’ll experience the empowerment and fulfillment that comes from learning the basic skills of providing for yourself and your family.

Let’s sow the seeds of freedom and get our hands dirty to fill our plates.

:: Guidelines ::

A meal must be comprised of food grown on your property or garden plot (literally or figuratively within – 100 feet – of your front or back door). If non-homegrown ingredients are needed, then we suggest following these modified locavore guidelines:

If not from BACKYARD, then Locally produced (our “homegrown” addition)
If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic.
If not ORGANIC, then Family farm.
If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business.
If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Fair Trade.

:: Getting Started ::

If you are already growing your own.  Great than move on to the next step.

But if you are new then plan what food you can and would like to grow.

Your first meal might only have a few herbs from small pots growing in your window or sprouts sprouted in a jar.  Look around where you live and locate a space to plant a small garden.

Begin with “foolproof” plants, such as herbs. Also find out what your neighbors are growing and ask your local nursery which plants and varieties do well in your area. (Read Jules Dervaes’s gardening advice in this recent Rose Magazine article.)

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but still do most of the work yourself so you know what to plant the next year. Gardening for yourself is rewarding.

Garden as a family: “Especially when they bring it to the table, they’ll eat it if they grow it.”

Soil is the key to a successful garden. It is alive and needs to be well, so nurture it. It may take a long time to obtain healthy soil because nature takes a long time.

Be patient and never quit.

Barter Up!

Talk your neighbors on either side of you into gardening, too. Maybe they have an over-loaded lemon tree. Could you trade zucchinis for their lemons?

:: Moving Forward ::

Once you have planted your garden and have prepared a weekly homegrown meal, consider how you can expand your “farm,” increase your garden’s productivity, and, thereby, cook more homegrown meals per week. Then take a further step on the path to independence and freedom by learning to preserve your garden harvest (we’ll be also relaunching our HARVEST KEEPER Challenge to help you with putting up the bounty).

:: Keeping Track ::

Keep track of your progress. If you wish, once a week you are invited to leave a comment with a link to your Freedom Gardens‘ profile or your own blog, or, if you don’t have a website, sign up for a free Freedom Gardens account or describe your meal in the comment box below and let others know of your progress.

:: Participating ::

If you like to take part in this challenge, post in comment box below. There is also a forum topic at Freedom Gardens for the 100 Foot Diet Challenge. (You need to sign up and log in to be able to post in the Freedom Gardens’ forum.)

Participating on the Internet?

Feel free to use the ‘100 Foot  Diet Challenge’ image on your blog/site  if you are a taking part.  PLEASE REMEMBER when you use this image to  “SAVE AS”  to avoid using our bandwidth and LINK the image to the challenge here (http://urbanhomestead.org/journal/2010/07/26/100-foot-diet-challenge )

And if you are a blogger who already participated in this challenge don’t forget to update your links and images!

Spread the homegrown movement: share, email, post this challenge – the more people participating the better.

Planting a Freedom Garden means:

– More nutritious food & better health
– Food security
– Improving quality of life
– Saving money
– Reducing food miles, fuel & energy dependence
– Reducing excessive packaging and effects of climate change

Take control over the quality of your food and improve your health and immediate environment.

Let’s start right here, right now! And, remember, this growing & eating challenge should fun! Can you dig it?

:: Resources ::

Freedom Gardens – free social network for modern day victory gardeners

Freedom Seeds – non GMO and Monsanto free seed source

Homegrown Revolution – inspiration to get growing!

Little Homestead in the City – inspiration to grow and eat closer to home

Terms to search: biointensive, polyculture, square inch gardening, composting, soil re-mineralization, weekly meal wrap up for inspiration


  1. Janet says:

    I’ll take that challenge! This morning the eggs and basil were from our garden, the garlic and tomatoes (no ripe ones here at 4000′ yet) were local organic and the goat milk and cheese were organic and CA grown! I love this. I like the idea of having a whole meal from our garden as in the future this may be necessary, it may be a little basic and bland but this should motivate us to expand this little farm.

  2. Jeni says:

    I am so up for this challenge!!! Although we do not have much that is ripe here in SLC, UT just yet (really crazy spring this year) we can’t wait until we get to taste some of the new things we have never grown before! We do get to eat fresh chicken eggs every morning and soon we will be tasting the wonderful duck eggs too!! Thank you for inspiring us to take the next leap into our self reliant life style!!! As you always say Happy Gardening!!

  3. Ginger says:

    My dream is to grow 70-80% of all we eat. I’ve a long way to go, but tonight it will be mostly a reality. I’m making ratatouille with everything from my garden except the onion. Not too bad….I like your challenge as a step in the right direction for my family.

  4. Dan Langhoff says:

    Getting near the end of the month, the first month in which I’ve kept harvest totals (because of you guys). Yields look GOOD, perhaps close to 200 lbs of tomatoes, onions, corn, melon, peppers, etc! Well on the way to making the goal of producing a true ton of food in a harvest year, with only a one man operation. And in the heat of summer, its time to think about fall/winter planting already, in the midst of canning, food preservation and chaos.

  5. Dog Island Farm says:

    We’ve been working towards this and within about 2 months we’ll be doing it every day. Right now we are doing it at least twice a week. However, ours has to be the 100 yard diet. 😉

  6. scaper says:

    Lunch today: green beans with potatoes, garlic & onions from the backyard, plus organic butter from a local farmer. Malabar, lambs-quarters, sorrel, cuke, orange bell pepper & tomato salad -all from the backyard, with organic EVOO & balsamic, and gala apples, wild blackberries & grapes with honey & mint -all from the backyard! All organic and none more than 24 hours off the plant or out of the dirt. (now I need to get some chickens!)
    1 1/2 acres, NW Arkansas

    • Tracy says:

      i found your comment here while googling urban homesteading in nw arkansas. i live in rogers and am going to try my hand at urban homesteading this year. we’re going for some chickens and raised beds. did you get your chickens? where did you get them from? we’re going to try two or three. if you want to email back and forth about progress, let me know! tracylittle (at) gmail.com 🙂

  7. rowena___. says:

    i’m in! we’ll even start tonight: ratatouille made with our own homegrown eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and basil. with homemade bread which will be made with non-100 foot unbleached flour. LOL

  8. Anna says:

    I’m in! I’ve actually already had a few meals prepared from our back yard, and it makes me proud to know what I have accomplished in the space that I have.

  9. Debbie Boutelier says:

    Count me in!!! Here in Alabama I am having for dinner tonight an omelet from my girls’ eggs with shitake mushrooms and swiss chard, a salad of cucumbers, green onions, basil and tomatoes and for dessert cantaloupe and blueberries. I am also preserving pesto, salsa, fig preserves, peach jam, blackberry jam, pickled peppers and pickled garlic for the winter. It just tastes better when you grow it yourself!!!

  10. Lorie says:

    I am in! I remember when you first launched this challenge. I thought I would never be able to do it. Now I am happy to report that we have been eating mostly from our backyard for several weeks. I look forward to this challenge being the boost I need to really look at all the “other” ingredients I am using.

  11. Paula says:

    I want to play too! Count me in.

  12. Deanna says:

    I am in and working the garden diligently for next season. My season is fairly short but I do have a couple of micro climates on my property that will help to lengthen the season. I participated in the last challenge and set up 4 4X4 plots and planted 3 columnar apple trees. This year I will double that and plant some blueberries, more veggies, and have the composting sites set up. This year it is worm and yard waste composting. Since I am located on glacial till I have to supplement and import my soil if I want a garden. I have been sticking with natives as well. It should be interesting to see what I yield next year.

  13. Joanthan says:

    Hey Homesteaders!! Love what you all have been doing – have been following for about three years. Just put the image on my recently begun blog. The blog outlines my own project which takes what you have done, scales it back a little, combines it with some Eliot Coleman winter knowhow (I’m in Wisconsin – we have to deal with that darn cold), and sprinkles on a bit of John Jeavons biointensitivity as I try to resurect the kitchen garden of France and Britain. I wanted to show people that they can start small and show them how to do it. Know that I will promote your site and what you do because I think that it is great and know that my family and I are taking the 100 FT CHALLENGE (great idea, by the way) as many days out of the week as we can!

  14. Ruth G says:

    Here in New England we are having the best garden season in years because of all the heat and just enought rain. Even so, we are still a bit behind more southerly states. But we are able to make meals from our own garden, with a few additions. Tonight’s supper was Zucchini Latkes (zucchini and onions from our garden, eggs from our neighbor) with homemade applesauce from the pantry (I am assuming that using homecanned goods from the pantry counts… made with apples from a local orchard last autumn) and a blackberry crumble for dessert (our own blackberries picked today). As the season progresses it will be easier to make 100 foot meals (well, 2-300 foot meals to cover our entire yard).
    Ruth in New Hampshire

    • Anais says:

      @Ruth G: Good to hear – that’s great! Yep home canned goods count. There are no “RULES” just guidelines to encourage folks eat closer to home.

  15. Annette Triplett @ CoMo Homestead says:

    Thanks for this great reminder of the 100 Foot Diet! I’m definitely in, and will plan to blog about it on our urban homesteading blog, http://comohomestead.com/. I will probably have to wait a week or two until we actually have stuff coming in. The garden is super far behind this year, but we’ll get there eventually!

  16. Hunger Rumblings » Blog Archive » By the numbers - Evangelical Lutheran Church in America says:

    […] How’s your 100-mile diet going? If you have a big backyard and live in a warm climate, you might be able to enjoy a 100-foot diet. […]

  17. Leslie says:

    I am definetly up for the challenge. This summer was our first garden and it didn’t do very well, due to over barked soil. We thought it would be good, but it needed more composted dirt. We were happy that we did get some great tomatos.

    We are starting to prepare for cooler weather veggies and are looking forward to them.

    You have been a great inspiration to our family. I love the idea of the 100 Foot Diet. Interestingly, yesterday I went to Whole Foods in Glendale and they were talking about a 100 mile diet in the produce dept. I thought to myself, 100 MILES??? WOW, I thought it was kind of sad because they get veggies and fruit from all over the world and at what cost to our environment, etc???

  18. Deanna says:

    Thanks to our garden and the initial investment of $4.00 we gave not purchased salad greens since mid March. Under old window screens for shade, the same plants and some additional lettuces that we directly sowed are still producing at least 2 large dinner salads every week. We have enjoyed Walla Sweet Onions and Yellow Onions, Leeks, Wild Garlic and Giant Garlic and have planted a fall crop of Walla’s and Bunching Onions. An abundance of Basil made into pesto has been wonderful. We are also drying and freezing the Basil. Tomatoes look lovely but aren’t ripe and the beans, peppers, cucumbers and pumpkins are flowering. Broccoli and Chard with a 2nd crop of Spinach are popping up. Thanks to garage sales and Craig’s list we are acquiring canning jars for very reasonable prices. We have around 42 sq. ft. under cultivation in our rental home yard (3 raised beds and 2 planter boxes) with several large pots of potatoes, blueberries, grapevine, raspberries, strawberries, carrots and miscellaneous herbs. We have planted several variety’s of many of the vegetables and are very intensively companion planting.
    The freshness and diversity of organic food right outside the front and back door is a treat.
    Thank you for your wonderful website and all the photos and encouraging information.

  19. Joy Giles says:

    I’m up for the challenge. Between our garden, the farmers market, and barter we have made a good go at the 100 foot challenge. We only garden veggies so it is somewhat difficult to be 100%. Each meal is about 50% 100 foot, 40% 5 mile and the rest 100 miles. Not too bad for Texas. We even found flour that is grown and processed 90 miles away.

    • Anais says:

      @Joy Giles: Wow, that’s pretty impressive. Not bad, not bad at all. Your especially lucky to have found FLOUR! I’m jealous. 😉

  20. Wendy says:

    We try to eat once a week completely from our garden. We are in winter now, but will join the challenge anyway! Spring is just around the corner!

  21. 100 Foot Diet | CoMo Homestead says:

    […] response to the Urban Homesteader’s 100 Foot Diet Challenge, we cooked up our first 100% backyard homegrown meal. Okay, it was a bit meagre. But it was […]

  22. Christa says:

    it’s not 100feet or even 100 mile… but does it count if we redirect things that would otherwise end up in the landfill? We pick up unsold produce from a farmer’s market, that they would toss in the dumpster otherwise, and use or preserve what we can, and compost what we can’t. sometimes dumpster dive for the same. it comes from all over, but I HATE to see it end up in a landfill where it does no good whatsoever.

    We also have a garden going, but it’s slow as we moved back into this house in May, and most of my seedlings did not survive the 900 mile journey back home. some did, though… the corn is coming along, the beans are running all over (need more trellises next year!), and the pumpkin is trying to take over a box (ditto on the trellises).

    We’re planning to do a more detailed survey of our 1/3 acre.. document micro-climates/sunshine/drainage, etc. had some trees removed from the south property line to get more light in. next year…. that should be a garden to be proud of.

  23. Cindy says:

    What a great incentive to get out there and make sure the garden is a success. My gardening skills are currently a bit haphazard, but I did get enough produce this year to realize everyone is right. Food grown in your backyard really does taste better than store-bought, especially tomatoes and blackberries which I had lots of this year. It is not going to be possible to do a “100-foot” meal this year. As for next year, I do like Joy’s solution of making a meal 50% 100 foot, 40% 5 miles, and the rest within 100 miles. That’ll take a lot of pressure off, but still be an improvement over buying everything at the grocery store.

  24. Bill Buron says:

    While we have not taken this challenge exactly we do live it. There is not a week goes by that we don’t have a meal or several meals from entirely form our garden. One of Our Grandsons was here the other day when my wife was making pasta everything in the sauce was from the garden both fresh tomatoes and home canned tomatoes and all the herbs, he was fasinated watching her put it all together. This is the 12 year old gransdon that learned how to can peppers with us this year. Befor he left he was talking about putting in his own garden this next year. I willkeep waorking on him and hopefully this stuff will take root with him. We live in the city. We don’t have our own beef but we buy it by the half from a local farmer. Once I get by the obstical of my wife not wanting Chickens……

Post a comment