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The Evolution of Free Time


Have you ever wondered what makes you happy? Here at GCG, we fuel our own happiness with a balance of hard work and free time, spent in the company of family and friends or engaging in hobbies that inspire us. Interestingly, one of our staff members came across information suggesting that hunter-gatherers had more free time to spend how they pleased than us as members of developed society, and we thought that was pretty compelling.


A hunter-gatherer is a human living in a society in which most or all food is obtained by foraging (collecting wild plants and pursuing wild animals), in contrast to agricultural societies, which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was humanity’s first and most successful adaptation, occupying at least 90 percent of human history.[1]

The theory that hunter-gatherers had more time for “leisure” is not a new one. A study published in the 1960s found that members of the Khoisan tribe in Namibia’s Kalahari Desert spent on average 30-35 hours per week gathering food and completing chores around camp. “Even the hardest-working individual in the camp…spent a maximum of thirty-two hours a week in the food quest.” (Lee, 1968)

Compare that with the standard American 40-plus hour work week, which does not account for time spent on domestic chores, “foraging” through retail stores, and sitting in traffic to and from work, and it is clear that the Khoisan have a significantly greater amount of free time to spend how they please. Whether it be doodling in the dirt or teaching a child how to carve and use weaponry, their time was often spent in the company of those they loved, or creating bonds within their wider community.

Photo: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/09/18/the-case-against-civilization


“Of the future, man knows least; yet, about this, he worries most.” – IVAN PANIN,


Members of the developed world are often preoccupied with thoughts of the future: whether it be completing the GRE in hopes of one day going to graduate school, saving money for retirement, or planning for their children and families, the future is constantly in mind. Comparatively, hunter-gatherers lived much more in the moment. If they were hungry, they were not worried because they knew they had the knowledge and skill to find food quickly. Once their stomachs were filled, they could go back to socializing by the fire and enjoying the present.

Did hunter-gatherers of previous epochs have a better way of life? There are many luxuries that we in the current age are accustomed to that hunter-gatherers did not have. For example, activity would be mostly restricted to daylight, they did not have the advantages of modern technology, and they most definitely could not hunker down during a “bomb cyclone” watching Harry Potter marathons in the comfort of heated homes. That being said, there is a certain beauty to the present-mindedness and immediate connection to resources that comes with hunter-gatherer lifestyles that we could all learn from in one way or another.


A garden is the perfect place to spend time with family and with your community, witnessing and harnessing nature’s magic to produce fresh, organic, healthful food. And for those who want to eat delicious fresh produce and enjoy the garden space but don’t want to spend limited free time tending to the crops, GCG’s urban farmers can do the work for you. Enjoy your time how you like and get the freshest produce in town for your friends and family with our installation and maintenance plans. Contact us to learn more!







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