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How to pick a place to look for land

 
Posts: 1
Location: Pasadena, CA
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Hi friends! I'm very new here.

I have really dove into permaculture through books, youtube, forums, blogs, and anything I can get my hands on. I finally got my partner extremely excited about the idea of having a decent piece of land and cultivating a food forest on a portion, maybe building a small artist residency (we're both composers), and leaving the rest wild and protected. We're really struggling with where to start looking for[size=12] [/size] and researching land. I would love to be back in the midwest around my family not only because of them, but also because I grew up growing food there. My family, though not farmers anymore, still have deep connections to orchards and farms in Ohio that are a great resource for growing there. I also worry about climate change and know that rain will only become more sporadic and sparse. My partner really wants to settle in the mountains of Colorado nearish to ski towns like Vail. That area is absolutely gorgeous, but the rainfall is already not consistent and that just scares me so much. We also want to settle around a community that are doing similar things whether that's permaculture or just small sustainable farming. This wouldn't be for 5-10 years, I just like to research and obsess.

Does anyone have advice or experience they could share? I've been reading through this forum for the past few days and have already got some great information, but I would love to know everyone's dream place to settle down!

Thank you all!
 
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Location: North Thomas Lake, Manitoba
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I would figure out the priorities and find a way to compromise among them. Some of the things that are most important to me right now are
-Family
-Permaculture
-Snowboarding
I place being near family higher than being near ski hills. But I still find a way to get to the ski hills. As for bringing permaculture into my life - I think that can be done anywhere - from Ohio to Colorado to Timbuktu.

Anyways, enjoy the dreaming and planning.
 
gardener
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Welcome aboard, Abigail!  Great to have you here.

As others have already noted, there are many variables to consider, and your priorities (and those of your partner) will ultimately narrow the field of possible places, as will career and family considerations.

Having lived in many very different places, I can safely say there is no one perfect place - they all truly had beautiful aspects to them, and compromises too.  It was always a bit of a hobby of mine on weekends to look at real estate wherever I was living, to really get to know the local area and market prices. Perhaps a bit of dreaming as well. Do that often enough and when you do stumble upon the property that really speaks to you, you will know it.

Anyway, on top of the broader geographical choice, there is also the interesting dilemma as to which piece of property to choose. This video might be a useful tool in analyzing properties for purchase:

https://www.geofflawtononline.com/videos/video/property-purchase-guide/

Good luck, and enjoy the adventure!
 
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Location: Aysen, Chile
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Maybe consider south america?
Cheap land, can buy a lot more and have plenty of space for everything.
https://www.ic.org/directory/no-name-yet/
 
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check out esmeralda county,  Nevada. the chiatovich creek area is up in the white mountains. also a 1:30 drive to mammoth / June. up near reno / carson you can get to mt rose quickly.
 
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Great question! I'm in the same boat. I'm looking at properties in upstate NY - north of Albany - but I'm new in town. I'm trying to be close-ish to a town with folks I can be friends with so I'm trying to look for things like a food co-op and independent book store. I'm also talking to folks at the farmers market to see where they live.
 
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Beth Ulion wrote:Great question! I'm in the same boat. I'm looking at properties in upstate NY - north of Albany - but I'm new in town. I'm trying to be close-ish to a town with folks I can be friends with so I'm trying to look for things like a food co-op and independent book store. I'm also talking to folks at the farmers market to see where they live.



Very familiar with the Northern Saratoga County area, so would be happy to help.
 
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Location: Upstate N.Y.
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Beth Ulion wrote:Great question! I'm in the same boat. I'm looking at properties in upstate NY - north of Albany - but I'm new in town. I'm trying to be close-ish to a town with folks I can be friends with so I'm trying to look for things like a food co-op and independent book store. I'm also talking to folks at the farmers market to see where they live.



Or if you decide to look west of Albany I can help out this way.
 
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If you want to focus on cultivating food you should look at places that have the climate for that. Sun, warmth, water, season. Look at existing farms in the area, if their are none then it is probably not a good place for that.

High elevation Colorado is not good for growing(except for indoor cannabis). Cold, cold short season.
 
Posts: 22
Location: Ontario - Someday Nova Scotia
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Christopher Westmore wrote:If you want to focus on cultivating food you should look at places that have the climate for that. Sun, warmth, water, season. Look at existing farms in the area, if their are none then it is probably not a good place for that.

High elevation Colorado is not good for growing(except for indoor cannabis). Cold, cold short season.



Alas, when you live in Canada, everywhere is a bit colder than you'd like it to be
 
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There are a myriad of ways permaculture can address some of your concerns. Cold weather, lack of rainfall, there are solutions to these things, as you delve deeper into this site you will hopefully discover or with specific questions someone will jump in with advice. Yes even in Colorado there are successful examples. CRMPI ( Colorado Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute) might be a good one to look at to begin with. Bang around a bit and I'm sure you'll encounter some Colorada/Wyoming folks that are having successes. Don't dismiss the Wheaton Labs in Montana, If your heart is set on Colorado there are permies there too.
 
Christopher Westmore
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Tonya Hunte wrote:
Alas, when you live in Canada, everywhere is a bit colder than you'd like it to be



I can imagine. I lived in Montana once then told my self "I am never living north of Colorado in the winter" What is winter north of Colorado ? Late August -to- Early June ? lol
 
Robert Ray
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Chris,
I would like you to look around a bit at what others on this site have accomplished in Northern climes. Perhaps Paul's efforts in Montana would be a place to start. To dismiss outright efforts that have been successful in high elevations and north of Colorado is certainly crossing a lot of possibilities off of perfectly acceptable areas.
 
Christopher Westmore
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Robert Ray wrote:Chris,
I would like you to look around a bit at what others on this site have accomplished in Northern climes. Perhaps Paul's efforts in Montana would be a place to start. To dismiss outright efforts that have been successful in high elevations and north of Colorado is certainly crossing a lot of possibilities off of perfectly acceptable areas.



I am not dismissing anyone's efforts. Someone asked about good spots to focus on growing. Growing plants takes sun, warmth and suitable climate, if you go to places these elements are lacking you are going to grow much less and struggle to grow much less.

I have lived in Montana and know people who live there that go to the store less then once a month. They butcher their own meat, can their own garden. As far as “permaculture” goes the main calories in a northern climate are meat. Gardens are limited and even more so above 6-7,000ft.

My other advice I was trying to convey is see what locals are doing. The people living in a place have a collective knowledge of “what works”, they have tried it. Too many people go to a place and think they are smarter, try to reinvent the wheel and fail. I see it happen over and over again.

There is a good number of people do some great organic farms in Colorado. Vail and high elevation mountain spots is not a place they are at. Most all of them are below 6500ft.  
 
Robert Ray
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My post indicated dismissing locations and efforts in northern climes, and high elevations. Successes using permaculture principles that stray away from "traditional organic gardening" are tangible. Permaculture is in essence a reinvention of the wheel for traditional gardeners. CRMPI is located @ 7200 ft Basalt CO. They have had a 30 year run. I wish there was more data on caloric diets of permaculture practitioners. My grand parents homesteaded in Saskatoon at a lattitude of 52 much farther north than Greeley's 40 and even though a lower elevation their main caloric intake was not meat, so I'm not ready to give a blanket all northerners or those at altitude rely on meat.
 
Posts: 22
Location: Currently located in central OK. Farmstead location is in northern VT.
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So I searched. Searched and searched. Read all the things.

The major conclusion that I came to is that homesteading is possible most anywhere (laws allowing). Different techniques for different places.

I think, first and foremost, it needs to be a place that you love and are excited to wake up in every day. Second, although it is probably the most important factor is water. Water can be acquired in a lot of different ways and it is certainly possible to homestead in an arid climate. But if water harvesting is not something you want to spend a lot of time on, a wet climate is probably a better choice.

For us, I didn't want to worry about water. So we chose a place with no shortage of it.

I am a huge introvert and get depressed around too much man made stuff. So looking at things like light pollution maps played a big role in where we chose to go. My wife wants reasonable access to civilization so we looked for somewhere with a low population density and low light pollution that was still relatively close (half an hour or so) from some degree of urban center (far from a proper city but still).

So, that being said, Colorado is certainly plausible (though they are having a huge pop. boom) but if you want to drill a well it is going to be very pricey. You can harvest water and build good soil but it sure is nice when you don't have to put so much effort in to do so. Personally I would be inclined to recommend somewhere with plenty of water, good soil, and not crawling with tourists (though that could be good for business) but that doesn't mean you should avoid those magical places in the Rockies necessarily. It just means you should really do your homework on how to go about achieving what you want to do in that environment.

In the end, we chose Vermont. It was the right place for us. We very nearly wound up in New Mexico though. The difficulty with water drove us away from there but man, I sure do freaking LOVE New Mexico. Just one of my favorite places in the world. VT is right up there too and having lived in the southwest for the last decade and change, it is always so cute when Vermonters talk about "drought". I mean, sure.. drought for Vermont. Climate change scary stuff and I get it. When I first moved to Oklahoma we were in a severe drought for about 4 years. The sky would turn red with dirt and blot out the sun. I had to start ordering "to go" cups of coffee to sit out on the porch with my friends at the coffee shop because otherwise we would have crunchy coffee after the first big wind gust. Someone would be like, 'ay yo dust storm coming' and everybody had to put their heads down and cover their drinks until it passed. I would go home and be shaking dust and clay out of my hair. It barely rained for years, the summers got up to 110f, and hay bales were spontaneously combusting from the heat and dryness. Lots of grassfires.

Anyway, water is your friend but you know.. you can make it work anywhere if you want it bad enough.
 
Patrick Edwards
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Location: Currently located in central OK. Farmstead location is in northern VT.
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Robert Ray wrote:Chris,
I would like you to look around a bit at what others on this site have accomplished in Northern climes. Perhaps Paul's efforts in Montana would be a place to start. To dismiss outright efforts that have been successful in high elevations and north of Colorado is certainly crossing a lot of possibilities off of perfectly acceptable areas.



Indeed. Sepp seems to have had some pretty good success with a very similar environment to the Rockies. Among others.

Not to mention all the indigenous folks who lived there prior to colonization.

The north has advantages and disadvantages just like the south. Just gotta figure out where you want to be and what you want to accomplish and then go about seeing how that is done (the ubiquitous "you").
 
Robert Ray
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61 degrees lattitude Matanuska AK
That's a lot of cauliflower rice/pizza crusts, not near enough crocks for that much sauerkraut, a lot of squash soup.  
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Patrick Edwards
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Robert Ray wrote:61 degrees lattitude Matanuska AK



Exactly.

Also, holy sh!t! 😆
 
Christopher Westmore
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Robert Ray wrote:61 degrees lattitude Matanuska AK



One growing season. Do the math on the amount of land and food storage you will need to make it through the year and you will see why it is a great place for a garden but will not support a realistic "permacultutre" life.

Robert, I think you are mixing up or have a very grey area between Permacultutre, summer garden and hobby farm. They are different things.

Patrick Edwards wrote:
Not to mention all the indigenous folks who lived there prior to colonization.



Indigenous folks who made a living from agriculture in the northern climates ? Who was that ? I have never heard of that north of New Mexico.
 
Robert Ray
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Chris,
I am living proof, offspring of a family of seven in Canada lived off of a garden without purchasing or adding meat as a primary protein source. My 94 year old mother begs to differ with your assessment.  Permaculture doesn't relegate not adding animals to the mix and many do. If we are talking back yard permaculture on a city lot you're right it wouldn't feed a family of seven. The effort to reduce environmental impact by locally producing even part of your own food and increasing the yield with permaculture methods, which are not just organic or traditional, is worthy. We will disagree on viability and that it won't work North of the equator. Do you think permaculture has any redeeming qualities?
 
Christopher Westmore
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Robert Ray wrote:Chris,
I am living proof, offspring of a family of seven in Canada lived off of a garden without purchasing or adding meat as a primary protein source. My 94 year old mother begs to differ with your assessment.  Permaculture doesn't relegate not adding animals to the mix and many do. If we are talking back yard permaculture on a city lot you're right it wouldn't feed a family of seven. The effort to reduce environmental impact by locally producing even part of your own food and increasing the yield with permaculture methods, which are not just organic or traditional, is worthy. We will disagree on viability and that it won't work North of the equator. Do you think permaculture has any redeeming qualities?



Robert you seen to be trying to twist my posts.

- I am stating that garden permaculture is not realistic as a main food source in high elevation northern climates (short growing seasons minimal crops that will grow and protein crops like beans will not grow).

--- This discussion all started on advice to someone that an 8000ft elevation town would not be that get to grow at. You are trying to shoot down my advice and state that garden permaculture can be done anywhere.

* Many places are much more suited to growing stuff. If you choose a good climate you will have much better growing success. That is my point.

Personal I feel like you are the one giving very bad advice.. Someone is talking about making a life investment and you are encouraging them to go to a 8,500ft mountain side to grow a garden ?
 
Robert Ray
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Chris,
I have never said anywhere in this thread that 8500 feet was a location to garden, if so please show me.
I did point out that CRMPI has had a permaculture site at 7200 feet for over thirty years. I also mentioned that there are people doing amazing things above 40 degree latitude.
I have given you personal testimony of the ability for a family to live in a northern area without outside importation of animal protein.
Breckenridge at over 9k and Vail @8k in elevation are areas that are probably unaffordable as well as undesirable. "nearish Vail" is a bit open to interpretation.
Your comments gave a blanket dismissal of a huge area that contains areas of possibilities.
Canada has a large lentil and garbanzo bean production so beans are a northern crop. Relatives still farm in Canada.
Please if you can show me where I have said anything that suggested all areas are acceptable.  One can't expect a business to be profitable once it starts, you have to recoup costs develop a customer base and pay for inventory. For one to think that in a northern clime right off the bat you can live off of a garden is improbable.
Permaculture is not relegated to just a garden it is a system that can include animals. My circle of permie friends do. The amount of land would be the limiting factor. Chickens, ducks, quail and rabbits require a small footprint for meat and acceptable within many cities. Some cities are looking ahead and allow goats. Even here at our altitude of 4500 bees are common.
To suggest that I would encourage permaculture everywhere is insulting.
I stand by my claims that you can implement permaculture and increase production with some of its methodology north of Colorado and at higher elevations and can be supported with examples.
Maybe our disagreement is our definition of a permaculture life? Does a partial attempt at living with a small foot print and supplying food have merit? Should one even try? Is a percentage of food production what defines a permaculturist.
 
Patrick Edwards
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Christopher Westmore wrote:

Patrick Edwards wrote:
Not to mention all the indigenous folks who lived there prior to colonization.



Indigenous folks who made a living from agriculture in the northern climates ? Who was that ? I have never heard of that north of New Mexico.



I couldn't tell you the exact extent of agriculture among every native tribe but I know for a fact that the Haudenosaunee farmed up in the northeast in what is now New England and Quebec at around 45 degrees north.

As for Colorado itself, I personally wouldn't really recommend the place but that's for multiple reasons. I love Colorado but I don't think I would want to live there. The question though is whether or not one could 'homestead' there and it is possible. It may be harder but if it is worth it for the individual, that's up to them. Though an elevation lower than 8500' would probably be wise. Ohio would certainly be easier in terms of climate. Speaking of climate though, I think it is worthwhile to look at climate change projections when looking at potential homestead sites. What a place is like right now could be pretty different in another 10-20 years. It is certainly quite different than it was 10-20 years ago. Up where our place is has been shifting from zone 3b to zone 5. Our maple/beech/birch forests are slowly being replaced by oak and pine and the surviving northern hardwoods are moving up in elevation.  

I'll say this, just about every person on this site has most likely experienced a bunch of people telling them that they couldn't do the thing.. that it was impossible. Then they went out and did it anyway.
 
Christopher Westmore
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Patrick Edwards wrote:

I couldn't tell you the exact extent of agriculture among every native tribe but I know for a fact that the Haudenosaunee farmed up in the northeast in what is now New England and Quebec at around 45 degrees north.



The Haudenosaunee did a lot of hunting and fishing. They did plant corn and the 3 sisters.

I will have to do look for some more stories about the Haudenosaunee/Iroquois. Thanks for the new material to look at.
 
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I can't speak to high altitudes, but I am familiar with high latitudes, and many people would be surprised at what you can grow with even a 90-day frost-free season (what I am currently working with).  There are trade-offs.  Trees grow a lot more slowly, and take longer to bear; however, we seem to have a lot less insect pressure and fewer problems with most bacterial and fungal infections (except black knot in plums and cherries, which is very problematic in my area).  My neighbors and I have grown excellent beans (including kidney beans), squash, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, etc; my area is also well-known for growing a variety of grains and legumes  without irrigation, even though our annual precipitation is under 18".  I'm not sure how that compares to the sort of land you are considering in Colorado, but I guess I want to convey that there are short-season and cold-hardy varieties of many things, and if you are determined to live there, you will likely be able to find all sorts of edible things that do thrive in that region.  

Having said that, growing is almost certainly easier in a warmer, wetter place.  From your post, though, I'm not sure whether growing your own food is a primary consideration, or something you wish to pursue alongside other goals.  We certainly don't grow everything we eat, not by a long shot, but we do grow a lot of our own vegetables, and an increasing amount of our own fruit (as our trees begin to mature).  
 
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