My family and I are currently hunting for land on the Northern Neck of Virginia. We are looking for a minimum of 20 acres where my partner and I, our parents and siblings and children can settle down as an extended family homestead and restorative agriculture operation. I intend to apply permaculture, keyline, and agroforestry principles to create a perennialpolyculture system that is friendly to the local wildlife as well as us humans and some domesticated animals. I hope we will be able to take advantage of the proximity to the Chesapeake Bay for supplementing food, transportation, and recreation.
Here is a list of our current criteria:
1) County land use policies: I do not want to be in a county or locality where the building inspectors will be breathing down our necks! I want us to be able to build modest homes for anyone in our family who wants to live with us, WITHOUT subdividing the property. I want to build barns and woodsheds, and dig small ponds, without a lot of hassle.
2) Elevation: We want something with some elevated area on the property, and preferably in a hilly area. There are large swaths of the Neck that are flat plowed agricultural land - we are not interested in these areas. The ground water will be contaminated, and we need elevation changes on our property for gravity feeding water. We need some south-facing slope as well, or anything that is not only north-facing.
3) Water: We don't need riverfront property (only because it would jack up the price per acre), but we would really like to have some frontage of a significant year-round freshwater lake, pond, or creek. We will test the ground water to make sure it is free of contaminants and drinkable.
4) Acreage: I think 20 acres is a minimum, to give us some land to work and some buffer from neighbors. Because I will be "farming" trees and woody shrubs, more land is better. I would rather have more land than a little land with an existing house. We really want a property that has existing hardwood trees, and some cleared space as well. I don't want city/county water, wouldn't drink it, and I don't care about electricity either. I want to build our house to have a small requirement for electricity, so a modest solar PV setup will power our house. We don't care for cable TV either. It would be ideal to have good Internet, but this is rare in rural areas. ClearWire or another cellular provider would work.
5) Location: We definitely like a remote feel, but proximity to medical facilities and stores would be nice.
6) We are still a bit fuzzy on our budget, but have a significant amount of cash available and would prefer no financing.
I would love to hear about leads on land, or just to know any permies in that general vicinity. I searched the web for "northern neck permaculture"... crickets. Will we be the first?
Chris - My husband and I were looking for almost the exact same thing, and found it just over the border in West Virginia. The land is significantly cheaper and covenant-free compared to the Old Dominion. Depending on where you look, it is clean, clean clean too. We found our dream 30 acres in Pendleton County and are now working to set up our own retirement homestead and educational facility to teach classes in alternative energy, gardening, natural building, beekeeping, etc. Would love to have like-minded semi-nearby neighbors! Good luck in your quest.
I have thought a lot about land in WV or other Appalachian climes, but for several reasons we decided to turn eastward. This will put us closer to family, and also closer to the most sustainable transportation network on the planet - the ocean! (anyone here read Dmitry Orlov?). Not to mention the availability of blue crabs and oysters, and I ain't talking about the Rocky Mountain variety. Not to mention, much of the land in the mountains is polluted by coal and natural gas extraction, expensive to purchase, or so far from a city with hospitals and such that you are totally isolated. I guess every family has their own concerns, we are putting our eggs in the Neck, where my family has a lot of history.
I would love to keep in touch with any permies in the region! You can find me on Fakebook or GPlus, or PM me. Thanks for the feedback!
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