KIGI: Know It Or Grow It™

In 2010, we (Aaron and Susan von Frank) decided we were tired of our food choices. Food is a relationship, and we felt like we were in the middle of an ugly divorce. There wasn’t any passion left. How could there be? We didn’t know anything about our food: where it came from, what its story was, its seed lineage, who grew it, how they grew it, how its production and distribution impacted the community and people who farmed it, how it would impact our health, etc.

Nope, the foods we were buying were just cheap, bland commodities sitting idly amongst a limited selection of other cheap sterile commodities, and the only attribute the retailers seemed to think we cared about was how cheap it was compared to the other options. The problem: cheap food isn’t good, and good food isn’t cheap.

We wanted to fall in love again. We wanted access to delicious, healthy and unusual seasonal foods that were picked at the peak of ripeness. We wanted the food we paid for to be sourced from people/farmers we knew and trusted. So, one day we decided to make a major change in our lives. We were going to try to “know or grow” 100% of the food we ate. We call it “KIGI,” Know It or Grow It™, and it’s been the most amazing adventure we’ve ever been on together.

So, what exactly does it mean to know or grow our food?

A good haul of Tyrant Farms summer squash, garlic, beans and other goodies, plus wild gourmet mushrooms (chanterelles, bicolor boletes, hedgehogs, lactarius and others) foraged from the woods near our house.

  • Know It = The food came from a farmer or gardener who grew the food in a humane, ecologically and socially responsible manner, OR we forage it while hiking or exploring in the beautiful forests in our area. There is an abundance of delicious native foods in any climate zone. In the moist, temperate Appalachian region that we call home, some of our favorites are wild, gourmet mushrooms (like morels and chanterelles) and acorn flour that we produce from three huge white oak trees growing in our yard.
  • Grow It = We grew it right here on Tyrant Farms (our edible urban “yarden”).

KIGI™ is a simple idea that has had an incredibly positive impact on our lives, and we want to share it with you so that you can fall in love with your food again.




Self-Subsidize With KIGI

Here’s one of the things we like best about KIGI: with the money that you can save by growing your own delicious food, it quickly becomes much easier to financially support organic & permaculture farmers for the remainder of your food needs. Essentially, you can create your own personal “subsidy” to support real people and real food that is sustainably grown in your community—and your subsidy doesn’t need to be hidden in a voluminous Congressional Farm Bill!

Our KIGI Journey (and maybe yours too)

If you’re like we were before we started our “KIGI journey,” your food ratios are probably similar to Year 1 in the chart above. With KIGI, the goal is to increase your knowledge and your garden yields over time, allowing you to source the foods you eat from your yard or from nature, while buying as much of the remaining items that you need from  quality local and/or organic farms. You can do KIGI without increasing your grocery bills, and you can even lower your grocery bills as you produce more of your own food. Know It or Grow It (KIGI)™ is a small idea that can have a hugely positive impact on your life and the farmers in your community. Here are our top-10 tips to start growing some of your own food today

Grass Farmers of America Unite!

Yep, if you have a yard, you’re one of millions of other grass farmers in the US, and you’re growing what is now the biggest crop by acreage in the US: grass. Monoculture grass farming is a pretty pointless and destructive activity if you think about… if you can choose otherwise, why spend so much time, money, and energy growing an inedible green carpet with toxic synthetic chemicals that are known to be harmful to people (especially children) and pets, not to mention the aggregate negative impact on the environment?

Instead you can use your little piece of “farmland”—no matter how small it is—as an edible landscape that brings your family & friends closer together and all of you closer to nature. Don’t like your family or other people? No worries… surely you still like delicious food, and there is nothing in this world that tastes better than the foods you grow yourself and pick at the peak of ripeness.

Food is beautiful! You can grow an edible landscape in your yard that is as aesthetically pleasing to your neighbors as it is delicious and nutritious to you and your family. So, your choice: fork or lawnmower?

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