I Lived Off Of Gardening, Fishing, Foraging, and Bartering for 30 Days. Here’s How It Went

Is it possible, practical or realistic
to live off of the land in an urban environment? The grunion run was very
successful this time. Guys, this is the craziest I've actually ever
seen it. Look at this. Oh, there we go. We got hit! So I just
picked five pounds of beets. We have mail from another fellow
survivor. I just made an Epic trade. We've got 36 eggs sitting down in here. So I have to do stuff like this, but man, it is so tiring to try to source a
hundred percent of your own food. Kevin Espiritu here from Epic Gardening
where it's my goal to help you grow a greener thumb and really expand that
greener thumb into a more holistic look at how do we actually get our food. Now
this is the question that I asked myself.

I was having a conversation with some
really good friends of mine and we always like to come up with these scenarios. Like what would you do if the zombies
came? What would you do if there was a, you know, a meteor that struck the earth. These apocalyptic scenarios
and how we might survive them. And I would always say to them, guys,
I might not be the best fighter, I might not be the most
skilled in hunting, but you can't kick me out of the group
because I'm the only one who knows how to grow your food.

So that
got me thinking. I said, can I actually live off the land here
in San Diego for one consecutive month? And I did it June 1st to
June 30th of last year, 2019 and I called it the Apocalypse
Grow Challenge. So in this video, a video I honestly never thought would
make it to YouTube because it wasn't for that purpose. It was just to see
if I could do it. But here we are. You're going to see how did
I grow, fish, forage, barter, enough food to survive. Well, you'll learn I did not thrive but survived off of the land. Without further
ado, cultivate that Like button. You know you have to, because this is a truly Epic saga
and let's get into the video.

The first thing we have to lay out
are the rules of the challenge. Now you may not agree with
the rules I set forth, but these were the rules and I did
adhere to them as perfectly as possible. Here we go. Date that it started was June 1st and I
had to go until June 30th of last year, so 30 consecutive days. I gave myself 90 days of lead time, so three months prior to the challenge
I was allowed to grow food and preserve it, grow food and store it or I could even
fish and preserve it or freeze it. Although I really didn't do a whole
lot of that. So 90 days lead time. The rules were I could only eat what
I could grow myself, catch myself, forage for, and I was also allowed
to trade with other people, so long as I was trading them for
something they grew or produced at a market value that was
fair. I couldn't say, hey, it's Kevin from Epic Gardening,
here's one potato, give me 42 eggs.

It doesn't work like that. I had to
do it as fair as could possibly be. Now the other things
I allowed myself were: I allowed myself to drink the city
tap water and I allowed myself one small bottle of olive oil
and one thing of salt. Those are things that I just
realistically could not produce. Maybe the salt from the ocean, but
the rest of it I couldn't produce. So those were the starting grounds. And I also took a body composition scan,
which I'm going to show you right now. Okay. So the first day of the challenge
you can see is 6/1/2019. We're sitting kind of high here at
29.3% body fat, 232 pounds, fat tissue 68, lean tissue 155.9. The rest of this stuff doesn't
really matter that much. It's just like left to right
imbalance and all that. I really cared about fat and lean
tissue. And so remember 232, 68, 155 and kind of a high body fat if I'm being honest with myself. Okay?
That's the beginning of the challenge. So with that 90 day lead time, that led me to think you have to solve
the growing part of this problem from two angles.

The first angle is your
calories. How do you grow calories? The second angle is your nutrient
density. And so first of all, calories are going to be the
most important. Without those, you're having a really, really hard
time in the challenge. So I said, what can be grown in 90 days that
has a certain amount of calories, at least some right? Lettuce, all
that stuff, it's not very good. And so I looked at sweet potatoes, I
looked at potatoes, I looked at beans, peas, things like that. And potatoes
are far and away the standout. I chose three different varieties,
Warba, Norland and Yukon Gold. And I grew them in a variety of different
methods because I wanted to make sure that I didn't bet all my chips on
one method and it underperformed.

So I grew them in grow bags. I
grew them in five gallon buckets. I grew them in ground. I grew them in raised beds. And I also grew them inground
without hilling them, which is something that a lot
of people do with potatoes. And so that's what I did. I planted
about 20ish pounds of seed potatoes. And here's what happened. Okay, so here's plant number
one. A lot of foliage here and a boatload of potatoes guys. Look
at this.

Are you serious right now? Look at this. Dude, look at that!, I've never seen a Norland Red
get that big. That's insane. So that was my starting stockpile. And what I did as I moved on
to day one of the challenge, is I said I should probably do a
little bit of a fast before this. Because I was coming off of
a lot of these addictions, if you will call them that, you
know, sugar, caffeine, gluten, all of these products that I just
wouldn't be able to eat on the challenge. And I didn't want to go into day one
going through like five different types of withdrawal. So the couple of
days before the challenge, I went on a 48 hour water fast to
kind of clear my head and get into the challenge. And then from
there we begin.

Here we are, day one of the Apocalypse Grow Challenge. As can see we've gone
pretty hard on the potato. So let's walk through
everything we have here. I've got a Berkey water filter which is
going to help me filter any water that I might capture during this challenge, although I am still allowing myself to
use city tap water for this month-long challenge. I've got a little bit of some pickled
vegetables that'll be a nice little spicy addition. It's a
jardiniere I think it's called? And then I've got some reds, some
yellows and some white potatoes. We're somewhere around
the 80ish pound mark, so quite a few potatoes right there. And then I've got dehydrated
loquats right here. This is about a total of, I would say eight to 10 pounds
worth of dehydrated fruit. And then I have some green garlic powder.

And that's it for my stockpile and I'm
probably gonna end up trading these out. So the goal is to trade out for honey, to trade out for cooking oil
potentially and to trade out for eggs. My goal is to get to 90 eggs
so I can have three eggs a day. That'd be a nice little boost of protein
and fats and also will make me not go crazy from eating potatoes. So, day
one, the stockpile. What's up guys? Kevin here, we're back with my boy
Steven Cornett. Good to be here. So this is the first trade I'm going to
make for the Apocalypse Grow Challenge. Steven's got his chickens, which I'm sure you guys have seen in
a bunch of the videos that we've done. So you've got 24 beautiful
eggs here and Steven has requested some pa-tates.
So I love potatoes. Trade number one for Apocalypse Grow is done
and I can't tell you how excited I am.

So just having these eggs man is
going to be super, super nice. Glad I could supply you. These
potatoes too. Yeah, of course. Now while the potatoes
were an absolute bounty, they weren't going to be enough to
tide me through. Or even if they were, it wasn't going to be a fun month to live. So what I decided to do is hopped on
some fishing forums here in San Diego and I met this mysterious shadowy
figure known only as The Coach. He is an absolute legendary
fishermen here in San Diego. He took me under his wing and showed me
very simple practical tips and tricks of the trade for fishing. So I was
catching things like sculpin. I was catching perch, mackerel.

And I was able to save some
of those for the challenge. But the thing that really made this
challenge as far as fishing went – because remember fish, protein and fat, things I can't grow quickly so I
needed those – was something called the grunion run. Now I'm going to
explain that in the next few clips. What's up everyone? It's day three of
Apocalypse Grow. It's a full moon out. It's June 3rd and that means in
San Diego it is the grunion run. Which means I have four days
to try to capture some grunion.

So for those of you who
don't know what that is, it's sort of a silvery little bait
fish that will come up upon the shore to lay its eggs. You
know the females come up, they lay their eggs in
these ditches and then males come up and fertilize and then
they all kind of peace out. Insane! The spawning period is March to June. The
protected time is April and May, so that peak spawning period. Now we're in June and now regulations-wise
you are allowed to take grunion. But the rule are the rules
are very specific. You cannot
capture them with nets. You cannot capture them with
poles and rods and reels. You cannot trap them by digging holes. You can only capture them naturally
by hand and place them in a bucket for capture and for storage. You
cannot get them with the bucket. For this challenge I will be trying to
get a fair amount of them. We will see. Guys, this is the craziest I've actually
ever seen it. Look at this! Thousands, thousands of them. Oh
my gosh. Look at that! It's like 1:00 AM right now and
look at that.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine
grunion on my first grunion run. Pretty stoked about it. Pretty
tired. Pretty hungry actually. But I'm going to save these for tomorrow. Running around I actually took my boots
and my jeans off and I was running around in the ocean in my boxers. Screaming and like getting super
stoked when I got these grunion. Cause they are tricky to get. Anyways,
just cleaned and filleted them. We'll probably be using these
in a grunion meal tomorrow. Hopefully over the next few
days we'll get a bunch more too. I'm going to have my cousin come down.
So, it's time to go to sleep. All right, day three Apocalypse Grow, we're out. It is June 4th almost midnight. The grunion run was very
successful this time. Oh, I've been sprinting on the
beach for like 45 minutes. Just trying to get all these guys. Check
it out. I don't know if you can see, but we gotta get these
guys home, clean them, prepare them and probably make a stew
for tomorrow.

I'm thinking potatoes. Potatoes, beans, grunion. I'm tired guys. Trying to do the Apocalypse Challenge
in as little space as I had, which is 15 by 30 feet grow space, meant I really only had to grow potatoes
or I could only grow potatoes to even have a chance. So I have to
do stuff like this. But man, it is so tiring to try to source a
hundred percent of your own food. With enough grunion to last
me at least a little bit, as well as some fodder for trades, I moved into the world of foraging. Now remember this entire time I'm still
cranking produce out of the garden. We're checking on the veggie pod. Maybe another week or two I can start
cut and come again harvesting that. My nutrient dense greens are coming out. I'm harvesting beans every single day
and eating as many of those as I can. But I'm basically exhausting my garden
on a daily basis just to try to get enough food. And so I said
I have to hit the streets.

There's a couple different
things that I did. First of all, there's an entire app called
fallingfruit.org which has
a Google map overlay of the different fruit trees in your area
that you can forage from publicly. So I started to do that, but I also networked with a couple of
friends and we found this amazing kumquat tree. Day five Apocalypse Grow. I got a lead on some kumquats
that were going to go to waste. Actually I mean they are going
to waste, look at the ground. They're actually falling all over
the ground. If you don't know, super delicious, very tart and you can even eat the skin. So we're going to harvest as many as we
can and I'm going to eat a lot of these for sure cause I need some sugar in my
life after having no cookies and stuff.

But also, um, these are
going to be a great barter. So let's go ahead and get harvesting.
Check it out guys. We've got tons and tons of kumquats.
We're just raking up, just being nice neighbors
over here, raking this up. But we didn't even dent this. There are still hundreds or
thousands of lo or kumquat, sorry. It's still on the street.
Looking really good. This is going to be fantastic
bartering fruit. Check it out guys. Look at all these. Delicious, delicious, delicious. So I just picked five pounds of
beets at a friend's garden in exchange for three and a half
pounds of kumquats I think. And I harvested about 11 pounds from
the forage. So pretty good trade. I'm definitely not going to
need 11 pounds of kumquats, but these beets and especially these
beet greens I find to be really delicious and nutritious.

So barter
number two for Apocalypse Grow, complete. So far in the challenge,
bartering has gone really well. So I've bartered with about four or five
people, some in person, some via mail. We have mail from another fellow survivor. And so I'm just going to run through
some of the stuff that I've got here. All of this zucchini and squash I got
from my friend growgdimensional on Instagram, traded some rare seeds
as well as a garden consultation. We have from botanical busters, this
is stinging nettle. So dehydrated, stinging nettle. Some spring and
summer, winter and fall fire cider. Some California laurel bay leaves. I need bay leaves and I
didn't have access to them. I want to make a vegetable stock. And so I can start making some
potato and fish soups. Honestly, almost the most excited about a lemon
because I haven't had a lemon in eight days and lemons are so versatile
in the kitchen for recipes.

She sent through a lemon, uh, some fire
cider sort of powder that I can use. Kenna Cote on Instagram sent
me through some mulberry jam as well as some of her homemade soaps. This is called Nocino and
it is a liqueur made from vodka, black walnuts. It smells delicious. It's like a little after dinner liqueur. I haven't had alcohol in this challenge, not that I really drink that much anyways.

pexels photo 4917814

But having this homemade liqueur ah
man, I cannot wait. So needless to say, bartering has gone pretty well for
this challenge. What's up everyone? So I've got a long cane pole
here with a tiny little worm and apparently you can catch
some sunfish down here. So I want to show you just how
easy this is. No guides on this. You're just old school dropping a
worm in the water. Check it out. That's how easy it is to catch these guys
right in the water. Boom. You get hit, you pull it out and you're done. We'll
drop it right down in this little hole. Take it, take it, take it, take
it. There we go. Just that easy. That's too small to keep, but it really is that
easy. There we go. Look at that. Oh, there we go! We got
hit. Boom. Look at that. Right away! As the days went on, I got into a nice rhythm of
some kind of potato-based dish.

I just boiled up my taties. Hey,
doesn't this one look weird? It's a rock. I just, I just
boiled. Oh, it's hot! Ow! I just boiled a rock. Some kind of fish and pickled
vegetable-based dish and lots of water and then just going out into the
world and trying to find more stuff to eat. And so I went to a place in East County
of San Diego where for some reason they decided to plant a ton of mulberry
trees as a landscaping tool. But really if you rethink about
that, it's not the best thing to do. And you'll see why in a second. But for me it was amazing because
mulberries are delicious, nutritious.

They've got some calories to them and
there was an abundant, abundant amount. So right now I'm standing in
the shade of a mulberry tree. I found one in the area. Super excited!
Let me show you the little fruits. Let's see if we can get
one in here. They're tiny, smaller than normal I would say, but
you can see them kind of right there. So the way to do this, you can see
them all over the floor right now.

All the ripe ones are all over the ground. And what that means is
they fall pretty easily. So what that means is take a tarp
and we're going to just shake the branches and see how many we get. Maybe a couple of pounds of mulberries
just from shaking the branches. And I could have gone all day. I mean, there's probably 50 plus pounds if not
a hundred plus pounds of mulberries on there. It's just access is a
problem. It's hard to reach. So I climbed up on this bench here and
I shook it like crazy and then they just started falling. And I'll tell you one thing. Apparently these are more
nutritious than blackberries. I almost want to say I prefer the
flavor. It's fricking good, guys. So big haul of mulberry is going to
be a nice little fruit addition to the Apocalypse Grow Challenge.
Free fruit foraged in a park. It doesn't get any better than that.
Day 10. Day 10 of Apocalypse Grow, I just made an Epic trade.

We've got 36 eggs sitting down in here living their best life. And,
some mint. What did I trade? Traded about a pound and a
half, two pounds of kumquats. So this is from a fellow apocalypse
survivor that really was overflowing with eggs but had no fruit. So
to her, a pound and a half, two pounds of kumquats was
worth the trade for 36 eggs. And I'm happy to make that trade because
I needed that protein and fat. So, yet another successful trade To make this month even crazier, check out what happened during
the actual challenge itself. Big day guys. Look what's here. Oh my God. We actually got it. Oh my God! Took so long to get to
this milestone. So cool. June 12 on the Apocalypse
Challenge. Look who's here. Ryan from The Horticult. You probably have seen him in
a couple other of our videos. We did a little barter today.

Oranges, and what did I give Ryan? We did a home cooked meal of farm
fresh eggs with some vegetables, some hash browns diner style, and then some kumquat and
orange juice for that citrus, which he has an abundance of, right?
Like it's falling off your trees. So, oh yeah, we've got another
treat coming later. This is wine from. Wine from Chrissy
over at Green Gardens Nurseries, another barter play. As
the challenge reached it's midway point I was feeling like I
was in a bit of a rhythm, you know, I wasn't craving caffeine
anymore. I wasn't craving sugar. Drinking lots of water. Energy
levels, overall they were pretty good.

The thing about it is when
you're eating too few calories, you're just eating too few calories
and you can't really get around that. So sometimes my energy would dip pretty
low and I'd try to rest as much as I could. And then as soon as I had that
energy back, I would go out, go fish, tend to the garden, try to make
a trade, go do some foraging.

But something that really was
the bright spot of the challenge was the midway point. June 15th, 2019 some friends of mine on Instagram,
my friend Anne @realhensofoc, she was actually concurrently doing
the challenge with me at a much higher level. She joined me on this challenge and she
volunteered her house for what we called the Apocalypse potluck. And so it was
her, my friend Randi Freckled California, and Brian @neverenoughdirt,
Amanda @forageandgrow, and my cousin Jon @castandspear
who has an awesome fishing YouTube.

He's kind of like the Epic
Gardening of fishing, right? And so we networked all together. We all brought stuff that we
had a hundred percent homemade, homegrown or bartered for, and we
created this insane spread of food. We're in the Apocalypse
trading center right now doing some, some bartering. What's up? We're trading garlic, eggs, jams. Jams, more eggs, more jams, veggies, tomatoes. We've got some garlic right here.
Jonny's, what do you got Jonny? What? I got potatoes? I got
spinach. Kale. He's about to, he's on day one and he's giving up
his potatoes. Mistake. It's a mistake. At the Apocalypse potluck.

This is from Freckled California. We've got chutney. What's this one
in? That's ragout. Eggplant ragout with fried elephant garlic on top
and then it goes on top of. Oh, the elephant garlic. This spread. Foraged flowers too. Whoa! After the potluck, I went home full.
I just felt full in all regards. My stomach was full. I
felt full of joy, you know, I actually got to see some friends who
were like-minded and doing the same thing. It was really, really
great. And I ate so much food. I literally hadn't felt full in two
weeks and so I just gorged myself. And that kind of carried
me over for a little bit. I fasted for a couple days after that
just because I didn't feel that I needed the food. So I just
drank a bunch of water. And then after this point we really
went into hanging with some friends.

I would trade some lemons. I would
trade some microgreens. All that stuff. And we got into kind of a
rhythm with the challenge, which is where my filming
kind of stopped a little bit. I felt like I was almost released. I was like living this new life and I
didn't need to track it or journal it anymore and I kind of just floated
along through towards the end of the challenge.

As the Apocalypse
Grow Challenge came to a close, I was really excited because I had
a cool trip up to Tahoe planned on July 1st. And that was like my
reset. I was going to eat a pizza, I was going to do all this
stuff. But I wasn't done. I still had a few days left to
the challenge. I had to say, hey, let me go get that body composition
scan again and see what happened. And I couldn't believe the results.
All right, we are now close to the end. I did it one day before the end and
we've got a body fat that went up. Now that's really interesting,
and I'll explain why in a second. But my total mass went down
a little bit over 10 pounds. My fat tissue only went down
about little less than two pounds, one and a half pounds. But my
lean tissue went down quite a bit. And the reason why I think that
happened, look, you've got 156 to 147.

So I lost nine pounds of lean tissue. The reason why that happened is because
I was eating under caloric intake. I was eating a macronutrient profile
that was more or less exclusively carbohydrates with as much fat and
protein as I could reasonably get. And so I think my body just started
to consume its own tissue to actually support the protein
requirements that I needed.

Now I'm not a nutritionist or
dietician or anything like that, but that's just my personal
theory. You know, too few calories, there's nothing you can do.
You're just gonna lose that game. And so my relative body fat actually
went up, although in an absolute sense, I actually did lose fat tissue. So it took me a little bit after
this challenge to recover from this.

But it was nevertheless interesting
to see that this is what happens. Now that I've had some time, a year
almost almost exactly actually, to think about the challenge and reflect
on my performance and what I would do differently, here are some things
that I learned. Number one, three months is really not enough time
to source enough of that food from the garden to have it count as like growing
everything you need to live. Basically, you can get potatoes done in that time
and you need a decent amount of space. Although, the potatoes
did really, really well. And I'll say the method that I'm favoring
these days is planting them inground and just not hilling them at all,
planting them a little bit deeper.

But of course if you're in an urban space, five gallon buckets and containers
like a grow bag work really well too. The other thing that I really learned
is the value of the foraging and the bartering. Cause basically as soon
as I had potatoes, I had a currency. Everyone's going to want
some homegrown potatoes. They taste absolutely amazing
and so I could trade them. But I was trading a really
calorically dense thing for sometimes things that
weren't so calorically dense. You saw early on I traded potatoes
for eggs and that was more of like a macronutrient trade. I just knew
I needed some fat and protein. And so I made a trade that lost me
calories but gained me fat and protein. And so what I decided to do from then
on is, some of the stuff I would forage, my kumquats, my loquats, my mulberries, I would forage and trade those for things
that had a little bit more calories, like eggs, things like that.

As long
as it was a fair trade to that person, then we were good to go. And the other thing I learned is that
I couldn't have done this without other people. So being a hundred percent
self-sufficient in an urban environment, while possible, and I know
people who've done it and today, I could for sure do it today. No
problem at all. But would I want to? That's the real question, you know. The value of the community that came
around to support me, trading things, coming down, delivering the
squash, all this type of stuff. I mean that really was the value and I
felt like I finally had a community of people around.

Whereas sometimes
when you're walking around outside, every single person you know is a
stranger. You know nothing about them. You don't know anything about their life. Even though you're surrounded by people. It doesn't seem like the best
way to live. So I learned so, so much on this challenge and I want
to do it again in a much bigger and better way. But man, it was
a super, super fun time. And if I can do what I did in this
challenge in the space that I had, you guys can grow anything you want. I hope you guys enjoyed this chronicling
of the Apocalypse Grow Challenge. I really wish during that month of time
I had filmed it better for you guys. I just didn't know that it was going to
come to this point and it was going to actually end up on YouTube and other
places.. And so I did what I could. A lot of you followed it on Instagram.
But anyways, thank you so much.

If you have any comments on how you
think I could have done this better, if you think I did something
wrong or any suggestions at all, drop them down in the Comments down below. And again thank you so much for the
support on this YouTube channel. This year has been absolutely crazy
in many regards but in the world of gardening it's been actually a really
good year and I have all of you guys to thank. All you new gardeners out there. You old gardeners who've been
supporting for a long time. I just want to say thank you and there's
some really cool big things coming that I'm doing to pay you guys back for
your support. So until next time, good luck in the garden
and keep on growing..

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