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City folk considering family lot in Grainger County TN

 
Posts: 7
Location: South-Central Kansas, United States
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Looking for regionally specific tips and insights before we commit to ownership.

My small family (wife, husband, toddler) has been living the dream in Wichita, KS (where I grew up) for 5 years, transitioning a business into passive income so we can move into homestead life. So far, with just small urban food growing projects under our belt, we are eager and finally ready to consider buying land. Incidentally, while beginning the search in Kansas, we were made aware of a small vacant lot (about 3-5 acres) in Rutledge, TN. To my knowledge, there is a small house on the lot, but everything else is a bit wild. We think it might be the next best fit for us to make the home live-able and move into homesteading on a small scale. I am confident that we could learn a lot and manage well in that space while we increase our experience.

My husband hasn't lived in east TN since high school, however, we co-own an auto repair shop in Morristown and have made several long term visits to the area in the last few years. So, we have a general sense of what to expect, but I am wondering about the things an out-of-towner couldn't know.

Firstly, for those who have experience homesteading in the region, does this seem like a viable next step? Or, does it seem smarter to just go big and invest in something larger and more raw? I know the price per acre would be less with a larger purchase. And, ultimately, off-grid is something I'd like to accomplish eventually. But with littles and given our limited experience, this seems safer.

Secondly, for anyone LIVING IN or FAMILIAR WITH the area east of Knoxville, TN... What kind of reputation does Rutledge have - for being climate/eco-conscious? socially tolerant? What are the issues relating to crime and drugs like (I've heard Oxy and Meth have an influence in rural east TN ??)? Is there an active Permaculture community in the area? Any other reflections on the area or suggestions for local resources? No wrong answers - I'm really just trying to get an impression from permies who are familiar with the area. Thanks in advance!

- Sara
 
pollinator
Posts: 364
Location: East tn
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hugelkultur foraging homestead
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Sara,

We are in the region, on the other side of knoxville, but have explored that area some.

Greater Knoxville is an interesting social amalgam. Its got enough old school country folk to have stability. But it has crunchy ecosensitive areas as well. Rutledge is squarely old school on the whole. But not hateful. Many families from out of town struggle to integrate, so if what you expect is to be courteously tolerated, you'll be fine. But a relatively short drive from downtown and more diversity of every kind.

Given the family dynamics and the business interest nearby, sounds like a really good option to start small if you are comfortable commuting to knox for socialization.

Outside of lockdown (ie, who knows what may change going fwd) there is a farmer's market in downtown knox where you could sell stuff every weekend and meet lots of like minded folks.

Check out three rivers market next time you are in town.

There are lots of organic and eco minded folks. But not a thriving permie community per se.
 
Sara Greenlee
Posts: 7
Location: South-Central Kansas, United States
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Wow! Thank you for such a direct and thorough response. I’m encouraged and will continue to research. Welcoming other responses, as well...
 
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Morning, I grew up in Newport and my mother lived in Rutledge until recently. I wouldn’t call the area socially tolerant, or eco- conscious, and it is far from exempt from the opioid epidemic.
 
pollinator
Posts: 214
Location: WNC 6b
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We live in western nc, about 3 miles from eastern tenn...there are quite a few eco-conscious folks and there are the others. Unfortunately hard drugs are a real thing out. Be sure to view potential properties in the winter. Maybe google earth? This way you can see neighbors and their stuff. :)
It’s a beautiful area, like many places your immediate neighbors certain influence the vibe
 
Sara Greenlee
Posts: 7
Location: South-Central Kansas, United States
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Thanks! Kind of confirmation of my original concerns. Viewing the area in winter sounds like a good idea.
 
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