REPUBLIC, Mo. – A Republic High School student working on a senior project involving self-sustainability found difficulty beginning the process, so several Republic residents chipped in to help.

Collin Chastain wanted to see how living a self-reliant lifestyle would affect his mental health. He planned to grow his own food and sew his own clothing.

“I was really optimistic about it at first because I was so focused on the product and the end goal, but I didn’t really think about like the materials that it would take to actually live a sustainable life,” says Chastain.

He says just the cost for the clothing material was $130. When he began growing his own produce, he realized he needed more money for pottery.

Chastain asked his mother for help. Together they decided to start a fundraiser by selling a dozen cookies for $10 or trading supplies for cookies.

“My mom has a really great cookie recipe. It’s been passed down in our generation of families. And so we already have a loyal customer base for her cookies.” says Chastain.

His mother made a post on a local neighborhood Facebook group. The post managed to bring in more than 50 orders for cookies.

“We have a huge issue with rabbits in our backyard and so any time we try to start a garden like they always eat the plants. And so it never works out,” says Chastain. “But we have the raised bed garden that we’re going to do so that we can plant those in there.”

With the money collected so far, he has purchased supplies to transplant the seed starters to larger pots until he can get the garden bed built.

Chastain says after spring break he will try to live the self-sustained lifestyle for one week. This involves eating only the food he has grown and wearing the clothes he has put together.

He is growing cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, and lettuce.

“I’ll probably have to live like a vegetarian diet. And so that’s going to be really tricky because I eat a lot of meat.” laughed Chastain.

He has been keeping a journal to track how he’s been feeling. So far he says it’s been tedious and taxing just thinking about all he has to do to support his project.

“I can understand why a lot of people don’t live a sustainable life, and especially in like today’s age, like climate change, environmental impacts and all those things are really huge issues,” says Chastain. He believes it’s a hard lifestyle, but an honorable one.