Where’s The Best Place In The US For Gardening… and Freedom?

September 25, 2013

Bad News

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.

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About David The Good

David The Good is a naturalist, author and hard-core gardener who has grown his own food since 1984. At age five, he sprouted a bean in a Dixie cup of soil and caught the gardening bug. Soon after, his dad built an 8’ by 8’ plot for him and David hasn’t stopped growing since. David is the author of four books, writes a regular column for The Ag Mag in North Central Florida, is a Mother Earth News blogger and has also written for outlets including Backwoods Home, Survival Blog and Self-Reliance Magazine. You can find his books on Amazon here. David is a Christian, an artist, a husband, a father of seven, a cigar-smoker and an unrepentant economics junkie who now lives somewhere near the equator on a productive cocoa farm. Visit his daily gardening and survival blog here: The Survival Gardener And for lots more gardening info, click here and subscribe to his often hilarious YouTube channel.

View all posts by David The Good

8 Responses to “Where’s The Best Place In The US For Gardening… and Freedom?”

  1. Judith Says:

    hahahahaha..funny David~ I love it. Yea, FL & TN & SD & three month’s in NC cured us, the taxes and rules were crazy. We settled in TN where yes, regulations & rules don’t reign. You can build your own house as slow as you need to in the country and only permit needed is electric unless you are going off grid, and septic has to be initially inspected. That’s it! Unless in the last 14 years it has changed. Taxes are low~ Sweet potatoes grow well on the Plateau at 2,000 feet & I love them as well. See my post at my blog for the detailed year long how to. Growing your own slips and digging after first frost. Just in time for Thanksgiving Day enjoyment and lasting only till you can’t eat another one~
    But, here I am back in FL~ temporarily due to a death of family member. I have only gardened in Ocala, 32 years ago, and the best garden ever with all the phosphate in the ground~
    I am presently container gardening on my carport due to the fact that everyone uses round up for everything and the risks are too high to put anything in the ground~ it is so saturated with the horrible stuff~ I am now leery as just today a boat came thru the canal behind me spraying all the water hyacinth! who knows what they use~ I hear the plants will be gone in due process~ then we can ‘fish’ again! Not happening~ Unless we are desperate for food~

    The best place? where you are folks…it’s what you know. I once advised a concerned city dweller~ don’t move to my neck of the woods, I can’t afford to feed all of you. Learn how to survive where you are. It is what you know. There are containers for gardening~ get to it~ learn the plants and weeds~ God created them for us. Learn to fish in all kinds of water…salt and fresh~ bunnies are fairly rampant in many places so if times are hard, you will still have food options~


    • David Goodman Says:

      Yeah, Judith. I know how you feel about the chemicals. Water hyacinth, ironically, are awesome for compost and good for animal feed… yet they blast poisons across the canals and rivers instead of using the resource they have.

      Tennessee is a moderately free state if you stay away from the cities. Your location is excellent… we looked at buying on the Plateau ourselves.

      And you’re right: the soils in the Ocala area are pretty darned good. There’s a reason the horse industry is big here.

      Good luck – thanks for stopping by.


  2. Andrea Says:

    Love, love your articles. You are so right about making do with what you have(live). My husband was raised in New York state and lived in Texas for many years. When he was ready to retire he did not want to go back to NY because of the cold weather and short growing season. He didn’t want to stay in Texas because of the heat and the short growing season. He decided Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma were the best places because of rain days and milder climate. We moved to Tulsa, OK and have learned to deal with our sandy soil, moles, and occasionaly drought. The good thing is that we do get to garden most of the year. It is one week before Thanksgiving and I just harvest my last potatoes, pepper and tomatos. I could grow cole crops in winter if I had the energy to work pass the fall. We moved to the country and for government rules, there are very few. We are here to stay so we will grow what we can and learn to live with what we have.


  3. Rosa Says:

    I will move to Oregon or Washington ,because I love gardening, when im older and if I can. Im 15 if your wondering how young I am. And unfortunately I live in Southern California where we are under stict water regulations so I cant have a garden otherwise my family will probably gwt kicked out of the house. HERE I COME WASHINGTON OR OREGON.(when im able to move) But until them i


  4. Rosa Says:

    But until then


  5. Courtney Says:

    I don’t see how learning Spanish would be “unfortunate “


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