Where’s the best place in the US to garden… and have some freedom?
That’s a huge question, but it’s one that many preppers ask and it needs addressing.
Just this last week I was asked why I picked Florida as my location for homesteading. There are a few good reasons.
1. The northern half of the state is relatively conservative and generally low on regulations. It’s also friendly.
2. I have family here and grew up in the state. It’s a known quantity.
3. The climate is good for gardening year-round.
4. You don’t need to pay for heating, shovel snow, or buy a sweater.
5. Florida is just a fun place to live in general.
6. Florida is affordable, thanks to the housing crash.
Florida also has its downsides. The state has some racial issues (see exhibits: Martin, Trayvon; Zimmerman, George), pain-in-the-neck building codes, a southern half that’s heavily populated, mostly sandy soil (decent in some places, horrid in others) and gardening here is tricky for Yankees to learn. It’s also not the place for you to try and grow dessert pears, rhubarb or head lettuce. Just forget it.
Every state is going to have its up and down sides. If I were going to pick a state I believe has a future of freedom, even in a national breakdown, I’d pick Idaho… yet it’s cold there. Too cold for me. It’s also far, far away from the people I love – and sadly lacking in alligators. New Hampshire might be another good choice, though it’s suffering from an influx of Massachusetts liberals who have ruined their own state and are now moving on to greener pastures.
For excellent soil, it’s hard to beat Iowa… but, then again, Iowa is cold. The Midwest in general has some excellent soils, but you’re going to have a harder time pulling off amazing sweet potatoes or other warmer-region crops. You’re also going to have to plan for your garden being out of production half the year. A smart gardener can make up for this by utilizing the excellent soil for the months he has – you’ll just have to decide what makes sense for you and how many icy days you’re willing to deal with from year to year.
If you want an almost ideal climate with good soils, Southern California is a great pick. However, unless you love regulations, taxes, crime, and being a part of greater Mexico, forget it.
Tennessee has a high level of freedom but you’ll have to deal with rainy, grey, chilly winters and lots of clay. The Appalachian border of the state, which is shared by North Carolina, has a high level of biodiversity and excellent and readily available water, which would make for some excellent food forest experimentation. I’ve eaten peaches from a tree that grew from a pit someone tossed on the ground. Now that’s a good climate. Though I prefer the North Carolina side of the Appalachians for culture and beauty, the Tennessee side is freer.
Some of the Plains states have excellent soil, though as the Dust Bowl taught us, they may not be suitable for tillage. Another problem faced by farmers and gardeners in much of the West is low rainfall or extended droughts.
In places like Arizona, water is a major issue. Though the climate of the Southern portion of the state allows for the cultivation of citrus and other sub-tropical delights, the lack of water makes gardening in general a challenge. On the upside, some of the Southwest – and including Texas – has a culture of cowboy-esque freedom that should appeal to many preppers. You just better like eating cactus.
The Pacific Northwest suffers from over-regulation in some respects, but in other areas, it excels. Parts of Oregon and Washington have great rainfall and a culture of gardening, plus some pretty amazing ecosystems.
Outside of the continental United States, Puerto Rico has a tropical climate with agricultural potential. I have a friend who owns a coffee plantation there and loves it. Unfortunately, you’ll have to learn Spanish and get used to drug cartels and a murder rate six times the national average. But hey… you can grow your own coffee outside!
Speaking of growing your own coffee outside, Hawaii is a superb place for gardeners. Thanks to its tropical climate, you can grow excellent staple trees like breadfruit and coconut, as well as highly productive crops like yams, taro, sweet potatoes and cassava. On the down side, it’s expensive as heck to buy in… you’d better grow your own food, because you’re gonna need all the money you can scrape together for your daily living expenses.
As my Dad says, we “live in a fallen world.” You can’t expect perfection in government, soil, people or anything else. Yet we can sure try to find the best place possible for our families.
Do you have a favorite location that combines freedom and decent land for gardening? Leave a comment and let us know. And if you think I missed something, go ahead and complain. I’ll be out in my Florida year-round garden, totally not caring.