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'Zero Waste Family' Isolation Survivor Guide 101

Family of five is living off their land in Talmadge.

SAN DIEGO — There is a zero waste family in San Diego that is thriving, despite the Coronavirus Pandemic. I went to their Talmadge home to figure out how a San Diego mother learned how to live off the land. 

"We grow a lot of tomatoes and broccoli and lettuce and kale and cauliflower," said Fredrika Syren proudly.

Raised in Sweden, Fredrika may have been a sweet baby growing up but her great grandmother was anything but, 

"She was a really mean lady. She did not like kids and especially not me but she did put me to work to grow a lot of vegetables," said Fredrika.

When she says a lot, she really means a lot. This family of five grows 17 different types of fruits and vegetables grown on their tiny 400 square foot space, even with a dad who had no green thumb.

"I grew up here in San Diego near the beach and we didn't really grow food at all growing up," said Fredrika's husband James Harker.  

He was an overworked software product manager desperate to cut his workload by 40 hours a week. 

"We went on this journey to find out how much money we could save and the question was could we really change our work schedule to spend more time with the kids," said James.

Credit: ZeroWasteFamily.com

Part of saving 18,000 dollars a year comes from driving one car, not buying paper towels and carefully planning out their meals. 

"We actually have a schedule, Mondays are soup nights, Tuesdays are Tacos or Mexican, Wednesdays are pasta, Thursday is something Indian related,[and] Fridays are burgers and hot dogs," said James

This Zero Waste Family relies on chickens for eggs and each other to make homemade hand wipes out of hydrogen peroxide, thieves oil and lemon. "And dad's cut-up shirt," joked Bella, their 13-year old daughter.

Credit: KFMB TV

Talk about cleaning up, the family now grows more food than they can eat. 

"So many of our friends go to the grocery store every day or every other day," said James. 

Fredrika's advice? "One step at a time, this didn't happen for us overnight."

Credit: KFMB TV

Gardens are a lot like children, they start small but with love, they will grow. 

"You kind of have to be patient because everything in your garden doesn't just pop up," said 7-year old Liam. 

9-year old Noah then added, "You can't water too much, but you can't water too less." 

Or as Bella put it, "You just have to be patient and not give up on them."

Credit: KFMB TV

If you'd like to learn from Fredrika, James and their children about DIY Urban Homestead, their journey is detailed on their website: Zero Waste Family

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