Thank you For your time..I welcome your kind reply.
Feel free to contact me if you are looking for suggestions or comraderie. I'd love to hear about your success stories.
Karin Smiles wrote:Thank you for your replies. I am wondering if I can make this happen for me. What kind of income level would one have to be at to be able to start. I am hoping to buy land by next year and would love to build a sustainable home. What are the typical costs of building and starting a garden to grow enough food to provide say 3-4 people with what they need. I know it will take some trial and error and time to get there but what are the realities of what it takes to begin this lifestyle. What can I start growing in my apartment now? I have a south window which gets alot of sun. And where can I get non GMO seeds. Are there any books I could be reading that will provide the info I am looking for ? Thank you..
A quick source for seed is: Annie's Heirloom Seeds and for some fun and unusual stuff: Oikos Tree Crops . Both of these companies are Michigan-based. There are several other non-GMO seed companies that you can find online, too. I do know that Julie, from Annie's Heirloom Seed, is giving a seed starting clinic in Dimondale, Michigan tomorrow. But, maybe that is too far for you to go? With an indoor sunny spot, you can grow herbs and greens. You can, also, share that space with seedlings you're planning on transplanting to the garden.
I do not think there are 'typical costs' to building a sustainable house, per se, because each person's and each property's needs are different. If you are going to build from the ground-up there are many options available and the costs are variable depending upon how involved you want to be in the process, etc. One option I explored was Enertia . Many times I wish I would have gone this route, too. The income level you need depends upon what your carry-costs on the property and the supplies you need. Acreage for sustainability is a variant, too.
What you may want to do is to define what you want your homestead to be. Do you want to provide only your vegetables and fruits? Do you want to include chickens for eggs and meat? Are you willing to raise your own pork, beef, milk? Once you've defined your goals, it might be a good idea to prioritize them. I would not recommend going from little experience to needing to manage an entire farm AND livestock, too.
I started with some baseline gardening experience and I happen to have horses. Each year, I've added a new component or two to my farm. The first year after we built, I didn't do much more than a basic garden. I wanted to see what effect our house made on the property. I found that I had not planned well and although my house was high and dry... we had a mote. So, after the first year, I went mote-water with some diversionary/retention tactics. I found a little success and I planted fruit trees where it was safe. Then I expanded pasture space but still wasn't happy with my water management. So I test piloted large-scale hugelkultur in one of my most offending spots. It turned out to be a raging success in both water retention AND crop production.
This year, I will add more hugelkulturs to slow and retain as much water as possible... and each one will be thoroughly planted to provide food, beauty and habitat. I may even have enough confidence to try and manage something besides the gardens and horses. I'm trying to learn about managing chickens as a meat source. I've just about convinced myself that I know enough to move-on to the trial and error stage. I expect a lot of errors. :p
Karin Smiles wrote:I am hoping to buy land by next year and would love to build a sustainable home. What are the typical costs of building and starting a garden to grow enough food to provide say 3-4 people with what they need.
Building a sustainable home can cost (almost) as little or as much as you want really. By making some compromises on space, doing most or all of the work yourself (some building materials are easy to work with such as straw or cob), using recycled/reclaimed/free materials and making use of friends and volunteers when necessary you can reduce your financial outlay significantly. I know of a guy who built a house for £5-6k ($8-9k) here in the UK excluding land.
Personally I'd look into building something along the lines of a Tiny House but build it with modularity in mind in order to facilitate expansion of the structure when funds allow or necessity dictates. My materials of choice would be timber and straw bales (personal preference), and they probably lend themselves more to modular building and small houses - I imagine it's easier to cut through a straw bale than a cob/earth/tire wall!
If you are in the Ann Arbor area or near there. I would just start walking or driving neighborhoods. Find someone with a garden plot in their yard or bushes and ask for clippings or seeds. They also have botanical gardens on campus as does Michigan State. You can grab some seeds here and there as you walk through or talk to a department head. If you only want a couple of seeds, they are fine. They get nervous and defensive when you are talking about taking 1 lb. of each seed variety. I'm sure Novi area would have some gardens as well. I wouldn't take a bag with you, but wear a lot of pockets and just stick some seeds in as you walk.
For me it helps to see what other people have done to be able to plan and envision possibilities for my own yard. Bill Mollison has a nice video on Urban Permaculture that is great for ideas. Good luck!
Greetings from the middle of Macomb County! My wife and I are just getting started in all this ourselves. Our first goal is a small vegetable garden (about 10x25 ft.) in our "Pleasant Valley Sunday"-esque suburban backyard. Eventually we want a few acres north of the 'burbs where we can increase our self-reliance and reduce our consumerism. We'll be happy to trade notes and ideas. It'll be nice to have a "mutual muddler" to talk with while we make this slow transition.
As far as where to get non-GMO seeds, I see that someone has already directed you to Annie's Heirloom Seeds. I buy seeds from them and am very pleased. In fact, they have partnered with our farm to giveaway (FREE!) heirloom, non-GMO seeds ($25-worth)! I have found them to be very friendly and I'm sure they'd be happy to help you with selecting good beginner crops that grow well in your area of Michigan. You can enter the giveaway here: http://www.arcadia-farms.net/2013/02/01/win-25-in-heirloom-non-gmo-seeds. (Giveaway ends 2/15/13)
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