My family and I will most likely be moving to Portland OR this summer. I was looking at the various cohousing groups in Portland, because that appeals quite a bit, but most are full and/or too far from the job (in Gresham, so I'll need to be east of the Wilamette and south of the Columbia) or too darn expensive. I was wondering if there are people here who can tell me good neighborhoods for those interested in permaculture. I've been looking at East Portland, near Burnside (and the Max line, for access to downtown activities).
So, do you need to be close in for a bikeable lifestyle, or are there places further east that you can recommend? We're hoping to sell our place in Wisconsin for something more than $300,000, so that's sort of our budget. We are open to the idea of buying something for much less than that, based on lot and location, and then doing some serious remodeling. In fact, that might be the best way to get what we're looking for.
Thanks! Close in SE is pretty expensive for buying. We're looking at a cohousing group that is coming together in NE Portland, on the west end of the Cully neighborhood--Cully Grove, but there are only a couple of openings and there's a list of people who are interested.
When I'm asking about "bike-able," I'm wondering about grocery stores, food co-ops, restaurants, things like that. I know there are lovely things close to downtown, but I'm not sure about further out.
how far out are you talking about? there are quite a few little coöps and a couple that are bigger. Portland's a relatively flat town, so a few miles isn't such a big deal on a bike. I don't know it super well, since I'm north of the mighty Columbia, but I do spend a fair amount of time in my friends' neighborhood in the southern part of NE around Glisan. good food and bars close by. good groceries are a bit further.
I'm not familiar with the neighborhood you mentioned.
We are in outer NE (Parkrose neighborhood). There are at least two other permies I know of in our neighborhood. The lots out here are larger (we have 1/4 acre, but several 1/2 and a few 3/4 acre lots around as well) and neighbors are more accepting of unconventional ideas.
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
Thanks everybody--the notification feature wasn't working for me, so I'm sorry I didn't respond sooner. We are focussing on NE or SE PDX, trying to weight the pros and cons of larger lot versus walkable neighborhood. (For example, sidewalks are a plus for my 1st and 4th grade girls.) We are mapping out all the New Seasons grocery stores, but I'd also love to know about food co-ops.
I live in southwest PDX, less than 5 miles from downtown, ~1/2 acre, front yard a veggie garden, 12 fruittrees, 15 berry bushes, perennial greens, composting. Working on water harvesting and hope to have chickens eventually. Neighbors with chickens and ducks. Someone nearby had a goat for a while as well. Don't know any other permies in the neighborhood, but plenty of random fruit trees, veggie gardeners, duck and chicken owners.
No sidewalks, but also no traffic, half mile from elementary school, 5 blocks to coffee, a tree-lined bicycle path to downtown. Or drop down to the waterfront for an alternate great ride to downtown.
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
Brian, your place sounds terrific. My job won't actually be in Portland, but in Gresham at the Mount Hood Medical Center, and I'll need to be able to get there in under 30 minutes when I'm on call. That seems to rule out the west side of Portland, which is too bad, because there are some cool co-housing projects in the west hills.
We have looked hard at Cully Grove, but there's been some musical chairs there, with people switching from smaller townhouses to the free standing houses once they realized that they will be able to sell their existing house for more than they thought. The real estate market in Portland is heating up! It makes us want to buy rather than rent, but it is hard to shop for housing from two time zones away. . .
I would definitely look into the Cully neighborhood. It's in NE, by the airport. Big lots and lots of permies. Low price, good access to Gresham. NE like 43rd and north of Killingsworth, I think, plus there's a permie oriented cohousing on I think Killingsworth and somewhere out there.
I'm on the west side, but that's where I'd go if I were you.
I'm in Beavercreek, which is about 30 minutes east of Oregon City. Though I'm fairly new to permaculture, I have a few acres here of pasture and some wooded areas around a small old farm house that we bought last year. It took me one year just to get to the point of basic design, which is going to be started this year, hopefully. Which reminds me, would any permaculture enthusiasts care to venture out this way and tell me where to put the swales?
This week we'll be getting a few Nubian goats (a doe that's in milk and her two kids), one or two pigs from New Haven Farms to raise through the summer, and hopefully get a flock of ducks established. I have a couple huglebeds in the ground, one in a good spot, the other, not so good spot, still learning.... I'm also interested in hedge laying, so if anyone knows about that I'd be interested in chatting.
Cully is definitely appealing to me, not as much to my husband. I'm presenting opportunities in Beaumont-Wilshire as a middle option--some larger yards there. He keeps showing me lovely bungalows in Sellwood with tiny yards (half of which we can't afford).
Kevin, your place sounds wonderful. I would look to Oregon meetups or other groups to try to find folks to share advice. You might want to try starting a new thread in the Cascadia forum. Once we move to Oregon, I would love to develop a relationship with someone who is on a few acres and able to do the bigger projects. For this time in our lives, we've decided to go for the urban experience, to try to lessen the time spent in cars ferrying kids to activities. If things go well, especially with my husband's startup company, I daydream about buying property around an hour away for a "weekend farm." I forsee that the best way to manage such a thing would be to have renters/caretakers on the land full time, with separate residences--maybe a whole community. But, first we need to move! Enough daydreaming. . .
Once I move to Portland, I would be interested in visiting your place, although my advice might not be worth too much!
Hey all - there's been a change--I've found another clinic to work for that is in Portland proper (Laurelhurst area). So, access to Gresham is no longer required. Sadly, the 1.5 acre property that I dreamed about has sold and will surely be divided into 12 lots or more. I'm beginning to make my peace with the fact that I am not going to have much land to work with in our new home. I may start a savings account for buying a larger property within an hour or two drive, and at that point I'll be looking for some people to live there and take care of it, but that will be years down the road. . .
Sellwood is still appealing. We met a couple in the park there and the husband (who works from home, like my husband) said he thought he didn't drive a car for the first four years after they moved there. It's a smallish community within the larger city, isolated by the river, the railroad and a big country club to the south and it seems to have one or two of everything you need/want in retail/services. In terms of raising large amounts of food for my family, not so good, but in terms of reducing consumption, there's a lot of potential there.
Hi Julia. Well you're welcome anytime to check out our place. I was going to say, if you're moving to Oregon you might as well live in the countryside, because city life is possibly in any State, right? I came here from San Diego for the simply fact that it would be virtually impossible to have any sort of land there, besides a small piece of dry desert.
But.... If it's going to be in Portland, the Sellwood area is the best choice. You're pretty much right. It has everything there, plus it has the best New Seasons. We would drive to that particular one sometimes even though it's further out from us. There's a sushi bar there that literally had a line out the door half a block long, never seen anything like that before. Sellwood also has the Homestead Supply Store which would be very convenient for you, though they're a bit pricey. The park they have there next to the river is almost worth living there in and of itself. A guy recently opened a forge shop in the middle of Sellwood and he does custom metal pieces for folks. So we're talking super trendy, even by Portland standards!!
Yeah, a good sized yard. Good one!! You crack me up. . . .
I know where you are coming from. We moved from San Francisco to Wisconsin back in 2000, and that heavily influenced our purchase of our current one acre property. I remember thinking "If I'm moving back to the midwest, I want some land of my own." And, it was great, in some ways. However, once I had my second child and as I continued to work full time as a physician, caring for the land and critters became almost too much. I haven't watched prime time television in almost ten years, and that's fine, but my social life has also suffered, and that's not so good. With the kids in grade school and involved in lots of activities that take place in the city (Madison in this case) my husband and I are spending more and more time driving back and forth into the city. Right now we are looking to avoid this in the future. By the time our kids are old enough to navigate public transport on their own, the Max line down near Sellwood will be operational. I'm going to have to reread Toby Hemenway's stuff about permaculture in the city. . .
If you know about someone in Sellwood with a double lot that is thinking of selling, PLEASE drop me a line. (Anybody! Help!) Standard lots in Sellwood are a bit under 5000 sq ft, and many of the standard lots have been cut in half (!). At that point, it's not a house, it's a condo, in my opinion. I've made it clear we can't buy something on less than a standard lot, but the house we are pondering now (deeply ugly, having been built in 1979 and never updated, but less than $400K) has a pretty big footprint and doesn't seem to have much space for gardening. Perhaps someday we can remodel it into a flat roof with a deck on top. . .
My husband took me into the Homestead Supply store, saying I just had to see it. He was right, it's like everything I like to do all in one place. Of course, I could be teaching the soap making, butchering and canning classes, but I still don't know much about making cheese! I think I'll be working more with purchased produce in the future, which is a little sad, but something's got to give.
Once we move to Portland I hope to connect with people like you that are raising livestock. We have butchered (never slaughtered) multiple pigs over the past several years, and we've been quite successful with charcuterie, including prosciutto, traditional smoked hams, bacon (that's easy!) and sausage. My next goal is to try fermented sausage. We've butchered a few lambs, and goats have got to be quite similar, so we could help you with that in the future as well.
Well Sellwood is one of the more sought after parts of town to live in so I guess I'm not surprised about the craziness with lot size. Seems to be mostly townhouses there. A double lot would be a long shot, but you never know.
That's great that you're into butchery. I just did a pig course in WA. last month and want to start providing a service in the area for custom slaughtering and butchery, something that's desperately needed in these parts. In fact, I'm going to get my two Tamworth wiener pigs this afternoon. This will be my first time raising pigs. I need to figure out the feed situation this week. I think I recall the New Seasons in Sellwood saying they might have produce scraps for me once a week. That would be great to talk to you about traditional butchering. Like the teacher said at my pig class when I asked him about the legal aspects of what we were doing (such as those concerning raw-milk), he said that what we were doing "wasn't even on the radar yet".
I have a friend who works in the medical field that used to buy raw milk from me and she is very much into homesteading techniques, Weston Price, etc.. She can make almost anything from pickling, canning, fermenting, bacon, and all. You should meet her, she's very cool. She told me that she got really into Weston Price after working in a field where she saw the effects of a crappy diet on adults and children. Very interesting to talk to someone whose seen both sides.
Yeah, we made an offer on the ugly house but it went to someone else. Job negotiations have us looking further north, closer to highway 84 so I can get to the Mount Hood Medical Center in Gresham. Something near Laurelhurst Park sure would be nice. There actually are some double lots around there, but they are WAY too expensive for a humble pediatrician like myself. Maybe a surgeon.
I'm impressed that you've taken a course in hog cutting (?slaughter as well as butchery?). You should post a picture of the weaner pigs! I would like to meet your friend sometime. I really need to get that "Nourishing Traditions" book by Sally Fallon. I was just checking out various pediatricians in Portland and there is a highly rated pediatrician named Dr. Paul Thomas (check out http://www.integrativepediatricsonline.com/blog/category/nutrition/digestion/) who advocates the Weston A Price approach to diet, particularly for kids with ADHD, autism and other issues. I would love to have a conversation with him, too.
Adorable. If you haven't already partaken of the massive knowledge base available at Walter Jeffries' Sugar Mountain Farm website you really should check that out. I read it all the time, and I am highly unlikely to ever raise hogs.
Yes, I have read their website, really good information. I might need to read it again though to make sure I'm doing the right stuff with these pigs. I've been making their meals by cooking rolled oats with all kinds of vegetables and fruit and raw eggs. Either I might be overdoing it, or not doing enough. I've never seen animals inhale food like these two pigs do.
The fence is working out great. Me and one other person can lift it and move it, along with the pigs to a fresh spot on the pasture.
I just got my Black Soldier Fly Larvae bucket infested with little crawlies so that will help with the pigs protein, as well as the chickens!
Have you looked in the Montavilla neighborhood? We bought our badass little urban 'stead about 2 years ago and love it here. It's a pretty relaxed neighborhood (no real flack for our wild urbanite beds in the front yard), and reasonably priced, close to the 82nd street MAX stop and I-205 bike trail and several bike-able streets. Its a nice little bike ride to Trader Joe's, has a bulk food buying club and a movement afoot to start a Food Co-op in the neighborhood. Need I say more?!
And the craziest part- I work at Mount Hood Medical Center!! I drive, because I just can't fathom biking 9 miles home at 1am after a 12.5 hour day, but I have at least one co-worker in the area who often bike commutes and its not terrible. Let me know when you make it out here...maybe we can be carpool buddies
And now that I've been thinking about it for the last couple hours, my two cents on lot size and feeding your family in Portland...
Our lot isn't huge ( like 1/3 acre, i think), but is easily supporting 3 chickens, 5 large veggie beds, 6 blueberry bushes, 2 strawberry beds, 2 rhubarb plants, hops, a myriad of herbs and flowers, and 250 gallons of rainwater storage...and we still have space years of projects ahead! It feeds our family of 3 pretty well, but we've also taken full advantage of some of the other great things that Portland has to stretch the amount of food that we grow and forage ourselves.
1) Community gardens- Portland has lots of 'em. Closer in, I've heard that some have long, slow-moving waiting lists, but I've had 2 plots at different outer SE and NE gardens that I got without having to wait. Our current plot is 200sqft and further supplements what we grow at home. Its a garden with several folks who've been growing there since the garden was started in 2010 who have some great, well-established perennials going on.
2) An awesome non-profit called Portland Fruit tree project- http://portlandfruit.org/. We've harvested with them every year since we moved and go into every winter with enough canned, frozen and dried fruit to keep us happy all winter long.
3) www.chowswap.org. Great for turning your excess into other tasty things, and to meet like-minded folks.
So, unless you're absolutely determined to have goats or other larger 4-legged livestock, or big fruit trees, I think its worth considering smaller lots too. Portland's got lots of resources and infrastructure for endless creativity! I've found that the pressure of limited space leads to even more careful consideration and planning than one would otherwise give. Good luck in the search!
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
Thanks for the information, Gabe! 1/3 acre sounds very nice to me, given that a typical lot further in is 0.12 acres, I think. I will certainly keep an eye out for real estate in Montavilla.
You are completely right about the community opportunities in Portland. I checked out Portland Fruit--that is just awesome! (Quick summary: landowners offer up their fruit trees to be picked, because they don't have the time or inclination to pick themselves. If you volunteer to pick fruit, you get to keep half of what you pick and the other half goes to non-profits.) Toby Hemenway has had some nice essays about permaculture in urban settings, and this is right in there with that.
Right now I am salivating over the possibility of buying a small home on a 1/4 acre lot in Cully that backs up to the Columbia Ecovillage. It's on NE 48th Ave, north of Killingsworth St. A nice family has been living there for a dozen years and is now thinking about moving up into rural Washington to be closer to family for help with a second child. The mom (of a three year old) posted a little description of their place on Craigslist, no pictures, no address, just to see what sort of interest there was for their place as is.
I wrote to her and she likes me! She would like to sell the place to us. I've actually recommended permies.com to her as a source of information for their new life, because what they're going to do is basically homestead on a relative's land, fixing up a shop to be their new home, raising as much food as possible, etc. Last night I talked with her and ended up telling her all about rocket mass heaters, since they're going to be needing a good heat source when they move up north.
Of course, they are just now discovering how red-hot the real estate market is, and we might be outbid. But we have made a personal connection (she had goats on their property! she's planted fruit trees!) and hopefully we can make this work out.
Now what I need is tips from Portlanders about how to sell this location to my husband, who is not a permie. He's dreaming of a PDX 4-square, with a defined entrance, formal dining room, 2 bathrooms and a WalkScore of 90, near Laurelhurst Park. He doesn't like the dearth of public transport options in that area (no train, just a couple of buses). I would prefer not to have a giant mortgage, rather to feed money into the local economy over time as we improve this (very small!) house one project at a time. I found Old Salt, the Side Yard Farm, the Cully Marketplace (on Sundays, I think) nearby, and have established that you can walk north up past the dead end of NE 48th Ave to get to Fernhill Park without needing to use Killingsworth. This is helping. . .
Hmmm...selling the spouse on a house and 'hood very, very different than what he's dreaming of committing too? I unfortunately don't have much advice on that front; I'd imagine the best way inspire love and reverence comes from a season(s) of watching bare earth transform into food, flowers and building/gardening fodder, but that doesn't help you now! I'm blessed to have a spouse that has always been on board with doing things that may shock the neighbors and their pristine patches of grass.
You might also get in contact with Pam and Jim Leitch at Columbia Ecovillage in NE Portland. Originally the Portland Permaculture Institute (where I took my PDC!), it has been transformed into an exemplary intentional community based on Permaculture.
Columbia Ecovillage documentary
Permaculture is a gestalt ... a study of the whole. Not just how to produce more and better food, but how human life on the planet affects and is affected by the surrounding environment.
Bill Kearns http://columbiabasinpermaculture.com
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
The Columbia Ecovillage is very interesting, but I don't think I can bring my family into that experience. The condominiums are refurbished apartments originally built in the 1970's, so the design is pretty awful, even though the new materials are nice. My husband is actually quite sensitive to design (I can't say I feel it as much as he does). Having a family dog might be problematic, and my husband was able to stop me pushing for one of the Cully Grove town homes (bigger than the condos at CEV) when he pointed out that there was no place to put a deep freeze. We buy whole animals from local butchers and a deep freeze is pretty much essential for this hobby.
I'm excited about a property on 48th Ave that backs up to the CEV property--you can see the old farmhouse from the back yard! I described it a couple of posts above ^
I don't know how involved we could become in the community there without actually being a member of their condominium association, which is their legal framework. I'd love to have a gate in the back fence and just pop on over, but I don't know if that is in any way feasible.
I had a nice chat with someone at the Columbia EcoVillage co-housing community. It was inhibited by a poor cellphone connection, but overall I got a very friendly vibe. My main question was whether kids in the CEV play with neighborhood kids, and she said yes.
My husband is still looking at houses all over NE/SE Portland (mostly NE) but he is getting more interested in the property that abuts the CEV. (I've been communicating with one of the owners, and the property will be listed for sale in the first week of September.) I am back to working at the Mt Hood medical center--that is now settled and I should start in October.
My girls and I will be arriving in Portland on Saturday August 31. We will be living in a little 2 bedroom apartment that says it's in Montavilla but seems a little further south (it's sort of due east of Mount Tabor) for the first few months. It's in a larger apartment complex--the only sort of rental we could arrange at such a distance. Please tell me that my girls will be able to use the swimming pool in September!!
Thanks, and I hope you're right. The property manager is really nice via email, so hopefully that will spill over into things like keeping the pool open. The apartment will have 1/4 the square footage of our current Midwestern home, so I'm hoping the pool will be novel enough to keep the girls from hating me for upending their lives (and making them share a bedroom!)
September is quite nice, but as a former midwesterner, I rarely find it warm enough here to want to swim outdoors compared to the scorching heat and humidity of Missouri . If it's too chilly for your girls, Mount Scott AND East Portland Community Centers are pretty close to Montavilla and have year-round indoor Aquatic Centers. As I mentioned a bit ago, I live in Montavilla (by the 82nd ave MAX stop) and work at MHMC, both of which I love and take pride in...if you have questions about either, I'd be happy to help you out!
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
We're here! Our current temporary location is a 750 sq ft apartment near 82nd and Division. We are still basically camping, as our shipping container has not yet arrived from Wisconsin. I'm on an inflatable mattress that now has a slow leak, so I wake up "on the ground." We've purchased and assembled Ikea beds for both girls, but the natural latex mattresses (no flame retardants) we ordered won't be ready for maybe a week, so they are on little camping mattresses as well.
Still, the pool is fine, if chilly, and the girls have done a fair amount of swimming. They love their new school (it's a private school--we set that up in the spring, not knowing where we would end up living). My husband was just here for a four day weekend of real estate searching. We are going to make an offer on the Cully house that backs up to the Columbia Ecovillage. Our own house in Wisconsin has not sold, but we can buy this small house (about 1000 sq ft) on a larger lot (12,000 sq ft, just a quarter acre, but that's big for Portland) just based on the equity we have in our Wisconsin home. It's going to be interesting because there's just one bathroom and two bedrooms, but the extra space will be nice after living in this apartment.
I'm a single mom for the next two weeks, so I don't know what sort of meetings I can attend, but right at the end of the month my husband will be driving out to take over child chauffeur duties as I begin work at Mount Hood Medical Center in Gresham. I've been told that closing a real estate deal takes a minimum of 45 days, so I guess we'll be here for a couple more months, as we want to rip out the current cabinets and counters in the kitchen before moving in. We'll probably do an Ikea kitchen unless we find something cool at the rebuilding center or Habitat ReStore.
Various locations in North Portland are completely accessible by bike, like much of Portland. There are also many alternative permaculture landscapes in North PDX which was why I fell in love with it. Cohousing is in abundance here; the house I stayed at had 10 of us living communally in a large old victorian house. NE and SE are both good areas as well as anything from 60th down.
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
North Portland is cool, it's just too far from my job in Gresham. We are in Cully, in that house that backs up the Columbia Ecovillage. We don't have a gate in our back fence, but the house next door recently sold to a CEV member, who bought it for the big pole barn/shed in the back yard (to use as an artist's studio) and they cut an opening in their back fence! The house is being rented to Pam and Joe (mentioned above), the founders of the Portland Permaculture Institute. They founded the CEV as well, but in a variation on founder's syndrome, they have had enough of being the assumed leaders, which at this point (several years in) means they were getting all the petty complaints. So, they've putting their unit up for sale and are renting next door, but it sounds like they may end up finding a new place in the future. Joe says his entrepreneurial spirit is driving him away from the settled project and towards something new. We are enjoying having them as neighbors.
I am getting slowly more involved in the CEV. I'm going to yoga classes there on Sundays and Mondays (I'm so glad that I have Mondays off!). I cooked a community meal there in February and we've attended a few meals on Mondays. I'm going to lead a group in making and canning applesauce there on Sunday. My younger daughter clambers over our fence to our neighbor's yard so she can go play with the kids that live there whenever she can. It's a great place to be a kid - 2.3 acres of gardens, food forest, timber bamboo, big old trees, a fort, play equipment, chickens, bee hives. . . it goes on and on.
Oh, and it's funny to read that we were planning to redo the kitchen before moving in. That didn't happen. We moved in in October, and we bought an Ikea kitchen in late November during their big kitchen sale, but they repeated that sale at least once before we even started installing the new kitchen! It's happening now, though. The cabinets are all installed, they just need to be fully clad.
The girls had to share a bedroom for 6 months, but we did finally finish the attic bedroom for our older daughter. In what I'd like to consider a stroke of genius, we installed a little Ikea sink up there (no toilet or tub, just a sink) in her bedroom. This has really helped our family of four share the one bathroom here.