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T Moritz
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Hi everyone, I just wanted to take the time to introduce myself since I've been lurking around here for a while and I felt like it was the right time to join in the conversation. Especially since I'm hoping people have some advice and can help answer some questions for me!

I live in Illinois, about 40 miles SW of Chicago where the land actually starts getting pretty rural if you go 5-10 miles south or west of here. I live in a cookie cutter subdivision with a small backyard where I have a nice little vegetable garden in 2 4x8ft raised beds along with other veggies and herbs that I grow on my deck. I also have my entire landscape around my house converted to Illinois native plants and collect my rain water in a rainbarrel on the side near the vegetable beds, and a raingarden on the other side of the yard that's planted with native wetland species.

My educational background is in Plant and Soil Science- with a focus on traditional landscaping. But I have experience beyond just traditional landscaping, which I started doing when I was 15. I've worked in a small orchard, was an arborist for a few years, and for the last 7 years I've been fairly successful in working for the Ecological Restoration industry in and around the Chicago area. We restore native habitats here in the Midwest through recreation of native ecosystems along with the maintenance of existing remnant ecosystems by reducing and managing invasive species. My wide background focused on plants has really garnered my interest recently in combining a lot of my knowledge and skills into permaculture since it encompasses almost everything I've been taught in school along with my love of growing food and incorporating it all into a more natural sustainable system.

I've been having a decently difficult time at work envisioning myself continuing on my path of putting all of my hard work into someone else's business that really doesn't garner me anything short or long term other than a paycheck. I have a very stable job with great pay, but I feel like there's so much more out there for me if I could figure it out for myself. The paycheck is what really is preventing me from going off on my own and building a small farm business as I have an opportunity to do so on my in-law's property.

I have a wife and a daughter with an established lifestyle and type of living, so that poses another set of difficulties. I read all about other people and their successes to establish a business around permaculture on this site, however I don't really see people mentioning all that often that they have more than just themselves they are supporting. As I continue to research and plan for the future, I see it being even more difficult and daunting to transition from our current comfortable suburban lifestyle into a rural, frugal existence. Doing so theoretically would allow us the freedom to reap all of the benefits from our hard work and potentially get and remain debt free. My short term plan would be to develop our farm business plan, continue working and building our start up capital for the next few years, sell our current house (hopefully not at a loss), and build something modest on my wife's parent's property where we'd begin building our farm business. The house may be the biggest sticking point I think because I envision something we mostly build ourselves that would be inexpensive enough where we wouldn't have a mortgage in a very short amount of time. However, our family has gotten used to the comforts of our suburban home where we can go out and buy most everything we need, we write a check for a mortgage once a month, and we never consider how we may be able to grow, build, or create any of the things be just go out and purchase from a store.

My wife's parents have 70 acres, most of which are in traditional corn and soybeans and have been for many years. My vision would be to start on about 5 of those acres to start converting them into a sustainable system incorporating permacultural practices in order to grow produce, mushrooms, and raise small animals for a small on farm market and for sale at farmer's markets. Eventually having a small on-site cafe and restaurant that utilized our farm produce would be in the works later on. The largest expense- the land is already taken care of, but the most daunting part- making the transition into setting up this farm, would be the hardest part.

From reading around here, I have seen people really being negative towards converting a traditional farm that has grown crops to feed livestock, likely GMO crops, definitely with lots of chemical inputs. However, I feel like if there aren't people out there actively trying to restore these farms back to sustainable practices, then our current system has already doomed itself.

So my biggest question to everyone on here who have made permaculture a large part of their lifestyle and have built businesses around it, how did you get it going? Did you do it alone, or were you supporting a family in the process? What were the biggest changes, sacrifices, and challenges not only you but your family faced in the process? I'd like to hear people's stories on this. If I need to post this in another section such as small farm or market farm, I will but since this is my first post I figured an introduction should be on hand! Thanks for listening and thanks to everything everyone on here is doing to create more sustainable ecosystems!
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5912
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Hello and welcome....it is good to have you here! I grew up in Illinois...mostly outside of Bloomington/Normal...wish we could have brought some of that good farmland soil with us to Arkansas in 1973. I am sure folks will have lots of input in to your questions so you probably will want to ask them in the appropriate forums. Your ideas sound great to me...someone needs to take back that farm land...even small bits of it at a time.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Welcome to permies T !

How old is your daughter?

How far from your current job is the inlaws land?

I understand your problem very well! Sometimes we have to make a leap of faith. Sometimes we can do it slowly.

Sometimes we get old and have lots of regrets.

If your daughter is young she will go along with whatever you do. As they get older it is harder.
If you can keep your good job and commute you can make the move slowly.
If it is too far, can you change jobs, but stay in the same field or company?
 
T Moritz
Posts: 3
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I'm starting to think my 2 year timeline may not be appropriate for jumping in head first. I think I need to start working the land over the next 2 years with a goal of having the perennial crops planted in early 2016 while working to continue to improve the soil and set up the farm all while working a full-time job. Yikes! (But doable)

My daughter will have her first birthday in about a week. It's more my wife that I think will be harder to make the transition even though she says she's all for it.

The farm is about 5 hours away, so we would have to relocate and I would probably find a job for the first few years of setting the farm up. I was hoping to not have to do that but that is starting to become more of a realization of mine.

In response to the good soil comment Judith- unfortunately that part of Illinois is not as fertile as central Illinois but should do just fine with lots of organic material and time. Thanks for the welcomes!
Tim
 
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