Words Tim reluctantly said when he saw the pink. Tim tried to cook chicken on the BBQ, and almost killed us due to food poisoning it not being cooked. We had no other way to cook other than the BBQ. No oven, stove, and being in town, no fire. What were we going to do? How would we ever survive?

At 4:05 pm on August 14, 2003, the lights went out across the eastern seaboard of North America effecting 50 million people for up to two days. It seemed to spark an agricultural revolution of sorts that we got caught up in, and are still here.

The Y2K scare of the late 90’s, the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and the major blackout along the eastern seaboard of North America in 2003 scared people. It scared us. We had no money on us, little food, and no gas in the car. We were stuck. It was a wake-up call.

Our little bubble of existence had cracks in it. Not just cracks, but gaping holes that went straight down to the core of society. To think that one single action could take out entire parts of the continent was frightening. It freaked people out. Freezers full of food were destroyed. Entire grocery stores began giving away food to prevent it going to waste. It had been said that Toronto only had 3 days worth of food. People couldn’t get in touch with loved ones. Mothers and fathers were stranded at work, unable to get home to kids. Transit systems stopped. Everything stopped.

Of course, the circumstances also brought out the best in people, especially in urban areas. People helped others navigate through the dark subway tunnels to the light, people shared food and drink, homes opened up for the stranded not able to get home. In many ways, it brought people together. Similar to peoples of the past that felt their lives and lifestyles were unstable, we looked for solutions to shore up our confidence. We weren’t the only ones. Many people were forced to stop, think, and truly consider the system, society, and infrastructure that governed our everyday lives and how vulnerable it was, and in turn, us. I’d like to think there was a recognition that we are all in this together and that cooperation is better than disunity. No matter, the 2003 blackout kickstarted a change in our lives. The first place we could think of starting was at the beginning. Food, water, shelter. Concepts that were smaller, more localized, and human scaled.

Just as Joel Salatin advised, we began where we were. In a shared suburban house, in Southern Ontario, with a tiny garden. Not much, but it was a start. The months following the blackout were spent gathering books, magazines, and websites (although websites were still quite new at the time) full of information on how to grow food, build houses, and generate our own power. We weren’t alone. Many people began searching for a personal resiliency that held more meaning than just going to work and coming home. It was an agricultural revolution of sorts. A very quiet, contemplative, and idealistic revolution. It’s also were our farming journey began, or should I say, for me at least, rekindled.

*Image from MacLeans Magazine: https://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/unplugged-remembering-the-blackout-10-years-later/
The CN Tower is silhouetted against the setting sun, as Toronto was
faced with a massive power outage, August 14, 2003. The office of
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Thursday night that a
lightning strike on a power plant near Niagara Falls, New York, was the
cause of the massive power blackout that hit large areas of North
America Thursday. A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister’s Office told
Reuters that officials on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border
confirmed that lightning hit a power plant in New York state and
started a cascading blackout over an area of 9,300 square kilometres
(3,600 square miles) in the U.S. Northeast and Ontario. REUTERS/Andrew
Wallace ANW – RTR1OSV

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