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Dream of starting permie homestead/ecovillage in Maine, looking for opinions.  RSS feed

 
Craig Barrett
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Hello All! My name is Craig and I have a dream that I'm sure I have found the right place to talk about. I am a 29 y/o M, and I own 53 paid off acres in central Maine. This is the perfect remote property. The property has 3000 feet of stream front, 5 wilderness ponds, is all woods (recently timbered unfortunately) with a 5 acre clearing in the center. From the center clearing, there are swaths that have been cut that lead to all edges of the property. The property is surrounded by other wilderness, and there is not a full time resident for 6 miles. I am looking at purchasing an adjoining 47 acres, and I have two like minded buddies very close who also own 50 acres each. All of our property is 6 miles from the pavement, down a maintained gravel road, and through two gates.
My vision, is to have a central building for community activities such as cooking, eating, playing music, crafts, entertainment, and just hanging out. Also, close to this building would be a central bath house, laundry area, greenhouse, and garden. Then, sporadically scattered through the property could be individual living quarters, cabins 200sq ft or less, built on skids. All buildings would be off grid, composting toilets of some type would be utilized, gray water recycling, and wood for heat (probably rocket stove mass heaters). I was thinking of a rent, or lease, or tuition, or some other fee of about $150 per person per month, to live here full time. Each person would be in charge of building and paying for their 200 sq ft cabin, and could take the cabin with them if they ever chose to leave. This way the experience could be anything from full-time future living, to experiment type living to try it out. We could have a small hobby farm that could support the homestead.
My place would be open to all people from all walks of life, as long as you are open minded, have a bubbly personality, and share the same dream of being self sufficient. Please, this dream is in its infancy at the moment, however, the land is bought, some cleared ready for planting, and there is a 16x24 common area already built, so I am open to opinions and hope to make this a happy, hopeful, sustainable, and realistic plan. Thanks for reading!
 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
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Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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Hi Criag, welcome to permies. I had previously written a thread where the discussion developed into a concept for an ecovillage model consisting of trailerable tiny homes. Reading your description, I think you can develop a good brainstorm from reading this thread in the link below.

http://www.permies.com/t/33428/farm-income/TinyHouseParking-supplemental-income-providing-growing
 
Craig Barrett
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Thank you very much, that is an interesting read. It sounds very much like what I would like to do. I just hope others are out there with the same dream, but maybe not the financial ability to buy their own place, or just people who share the same dreams I have, but would rather experiment a bit to see if it's really the lifestyle that they want.
 
Tom DeCoste
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Location: Seboeis Plantation, ME
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Very cool idea. Are you hoping this is a seasonal community up there in Maine or year around? I plan on having a lot of questions for you. Some might be interesting, some, I assure you, will be boring.
Here goes:
What will be your approach to community property?
Do you have a specific idea or philosophy which will be the core of the community and the goal? ie: egalitarian cooperative lifestyle, a self-reliant, back-to-the-land lifestyle: a self-reliant, back-to-the-land lifestyle, or a contemplative or spiritual lifestyle? Clothing optional? (kidding but I think there might be some merit to a later question on gender and roles)
Do you want the village to educate, or serve? Do you want a nice place for a group of (new) friends to live, or what is the combination of all these things you envision?
If you want to spar on this subject, I will be the and you might want to be the ( ) The conversation might help me too. Thanks for the excitement and vision - Tom
 
Craig Barrett
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Well, well, well. These are some very good questions, some that I may have to give some serious thought to.
First of all, I would like for this to be a year round community, although I will be the first to tell you that you will need some intestinal fortitude to live up here year round. People do it, we can do it. It would be much easier as a group, and I can assure you, it is very possible. However, if some people only want to live here seasonally, that can be their decision. Maine is one of the last wild places in the US, and the type of people that enjoy the activities that Maine offers (hiking, backpacking, fishing, boating, canoeing, mountain biking, wildlife, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and many more) are the type of people I am looking for. Active, freethinking people who love outdoor activities, but can also enjoy stopping and staring at the night sky, contemplating our existence.
As for community property, this is a tricky question. I would love to provide a place and environment that people feel free, safe, and stable. However, I need to also keep control, to some extent, of the property. In my mind, this can be a dream come true for a lucky number of people who can get along in perfect harmony, sharing thoughts, working together, enjoying each other's company, and living simply and sustainably. The reality is that there may be a situation that develops down the road where someone sneaks through the cracks and makes life hell for everyone else. It would be this example where I would want the ability to talk to this person as the owner, or worst case scenario, have to evict this person. At the end of the day, I am the one who made the financial commitment to purchasing, paying for, and maintaining 53 acres. I plan to live here happily for the rest of my life, and I would be happy to help others achieve the same dream, whether at my place for the long haul, or whether at my place for a test of the lifestyle. The financial costs of the community buildings and infrastructure would be paid for by me, and maintained as a group. The taxes, road maintenance fees, and other costs would be paid by me. The garden, plants, animals, poultry, animal feed, canning supplies, and labor associated with these types of things would be shared by the group, as would the benefits of having such things. If the group wants to work harder to grow more garden, then the group will share the rewards of selling produce. If the group wants to use the community building to make and sell soap, then the group would share the monetary rewards of such. Same would go with any other bright idea that the group might come up with.
I am trying to make a place where someone can invest 2000-3000 dollars in a small, easy to maintain, simple cabin. This idea would give someone the ability to live with no house payment, no utility bills, hopefully a very small grocery bill, and at the same time gain the skills and knowledge to live off grid, sustainably, and have a great time with great people while doing it. The rent or lease fee, is small enough that it could easily be paid for by a part time job, leaving the person freedom to enjoy life and spend their life energy on things that matter. Again, people can plan to live here forever, or plan to live here short term until they can save the monetary funds to buy their own place. Either way, we will all be learning what works and what doesn't, and hopefully make life long friendships.
I don't really have any specific "core" idea for the eco-village, other than freedom. Freedom to me is paramount. Freedom from slaving at a dead end job to pay for all the things that society has made us believe are must haves. Freedom to think how they want. Freedom to engage in intelligent adult conversations without prejudice. Freedom to be whoever they want. Freedom to enjoy life. Freedom to believe in whatever religion or not believe in whatever religion...without having someone else's beliefs rammed down their throat. Freedom of sexual orientation. Freedom to wear clothes or not, however please wear them when you go to town. But most of all, freedom to sit around a camp fire at night, with great friends, enjoying the hundreds of millions of stars and milky way that are above us. The one thing that I do not want is weapon and ammo crazies, poachers, or dudes running around in camo constantly. I am all for right to bear arms, military, and things associated with that. I am not looking for a militia or anything associated with that. We will also not be making meth, lol. I am fine with guns, however you don't need to carry one constantly on your hip like Rambo. If you have your concealed carry, fine, but this is not Detroit.
Im not looking to be an extremist, however we will be environmentally conscious. I am okay with having one or two community ATV's for work, or one or two snowmobiles for transportation in the winter. However, I would like to see bikes, skis, canoes, and our two legs used more for transportation. I don't mind if you have a car, but carpooling would be encouraged. If the group would rather have horses to replace the atv and snowmobile, then that can be a group decision. If the group would like to operate a canoe livery for split proceeds to the group, then so be it. As for work in this area, we are 15 minutes from town, biking distance from a lake resort, 45 minutes to a Walmart, restaurants, ect, and 1 hour from Bangor. We are also a little over an hour from Acadia National Park, 30 miles from the Appalachian Trail, surrounded by multitudes of fresh water wilderness lakes, and 2 miles from a major river/stream system that can take you to the ocean.
As far as education, we all will be learning every day. Therefore, eventually we may be able to educate the public. Other villages like this get paid big bucks to have seminars. These are all options. In the future, we may have the ability to make all the money we need just off of our brains and expertise. I hope this helps some, and I appreciate your interest. Please, any and all interested in living this kind of lifestyle, whether full or part-time, please feel free to contact me. -Craig
 
Tom DeCoste
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Location: Seboeis Plantation, ME
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I like your answers to those questions Craig. Since I am very interested, here are a couple of more. At first there is a beginning. Maybe that consists of you only and maybe one or two other people. So, how to you propose to get new members.?
I expect you will find some interest here (example:me). I have known Central Maine for a long time and already love it. I am sure there are others who also like the area and others who haven't been there but would like it because it is part of their dream to live off-grid in a "village", have a vibrant community and insulate themselves from the fragility of a petroleum economy. (Imagine as little as a 3 day interruption in just the trucked grocery supply chain, could be chaos very quickly)
Paint a picture please. Would the living areas be group or individual? Would they be close, maybe even connected by covered walkways (may be important in a year around plan). Would the physical arrangement of the living units be a circle, or something else (maybe like the branches of a tree?) Where could people go to meditate, write, have some alone time in the wilderness. Would there be outposts for that?

Back to getting new members, first impression is important. Would you have events in area towns for people to hear the plans and see if their interest is peaked in the project and you and you in them? Could they come and stay for a while, pre-construction, say in a tent to get a feel for nature and the other people who may be doing the same thing? What kind of thing do they need to bring to the table; a willingness to work, a skill, a need for the inspiration of the wilderness to continue their writing (something else)? Is there an overall goal or theme? Organic gardening, permaculture, music, spirituality, freedom from societal norms, or maybe like the Quakers of Maine, taking care of foster children? A combination? Are there other things you are thinking of which would provide the commonality of purpose? I can say spirituality can be wonderful, but the common organized religions I am not interested in. If there is a God, wonderful. My observations of the world and history only provide evidence that if there is he may not be the brightest bulb in the room and, if his vision is a mystery to me, when I see him, I feel he has some explaining to do.

So for me, in a commune or village of like minded people, living and communicating with each other is important and leaving the dogma out is essential.
Hope, dreams and vision are what carry a forming group forward. Will you create the time and processes inviting newcomers to share their hopes and visions? Would they have to have shared dreams? Thanks Craig, I enjoying the conversation - Tom
 
Craig Barrett
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Well Tom,
If you want to sing out, sing out.
And if you want to be free, be free.
'cause there's a million things to be,
You know that there are.

I hope that you recognize this song, it is from a fantastic movie.

The truth is Tom, there is already a beginning. Let me catch you up to here. I have been planning on living off-grid in a cabin, in the woods, for as long as I can possibly remember. In the past 10 years, I became serious, looking for remote land, researching off grid systems from the super simple (my favorite) to the super complex, learning about permaculture and whole systems design, but most of all, learning that this experience would be much more fun and much more sustainable long term if I can work together with friends to meet this goal. 2 Years ago, I found this piece of property in Central Maine, and like most first time land buyers with our mentality, I was ecstatic just to be on this undeveloped piece of land, be able to reach down pick up a handful of dirt, and have the realization of what that meant. Last year, I moved everything I had, for the most part, in an enclosed trailer up to the land with the intentions of building a cabin. This turned into an experience of a lifetime, where I met some people who now have become the closest people in my lives. These people also share the same vision. One of them is a little more extreme, owns 47 acres 200 yards down the road, and is in the process to trying to build a stacked log and earth hut, with only hand tools, and his spare time. He has been living there full time (warm season) in a tent. Another person, my very best friend, also owns 47 acres, about 400 yards as the crow flies from my place. He has a log cabin with off grid utilities, and has started a farm, with permaculture and whole systems design being the main focus. My place is directly in the middle of these pieces of property. We all share the same vision of an eco-village/permaculture/whole systems design type of lifestyle.

We are hoping that my place can be the starting point as far as housing goes, where everyone can have their own place, and share the community buildings. The farm, can be a community work farm, where we can all work together to grow food, raise animals, and set an example for sustainable living. My place, with the community building up front and in the center, would be the gathering area, entertainment area, parking area, meeting area, cooking area, and dining area. The individual living cabins would fan out, like branches on a tree, to the back edges of the property, where you eventually run into the stream (3000 ft) and 5 wilderness, seasonal ponds. As far as living quarters, this can be up to the people living in them. I would like to keep the cabins small 10x12ish up to 10x20 MAX, and on skids, so that they can be moved around, or taken with the person should they wish to leave. Now if people want to live 1,2,3 or more to a cabin, that is their choice. However, 1-2 people to a cabin with at least an acre of woods per cabin, would provide enough privacy for each person, as well as room for adventure. The entire property will be usable by all, to do what they like as far as hiking, meditation, jogging, writing, or anything else. The community buildings and areas will be there so that we can have a close bond as a community, doing community things. If people want to shack up together for the winters, that is also an option, and would use less resources. I like the idea of a communal cooking and dining area because I feel that meals together are a great bond creator.

The whole eco-village will be based primarily around growing food and living light on the earth. However, that doesn't mean you can't have your own life. I understand people will have jobs, lives, and activities that aren't centered around the community. But if we all do our part in gardening, we all can benefit from it. I'm sure everyone understands this concept. The details of how big a system we have can be left up to the group. I want to belong to this group as well, as an equal, not be the dictator just because I own the land. Think of this as renting a cabin or space for your cabin, on a farm in the woods, with a whole bunch of friends.

First impressions, well hopefully we will be lucky enough to find enough likeminded people just on this page that would like to join. If not, we can reach out to the community. I would like to eventually reach out to the community and do good deeds wherever we can. However, this is starting, or is started already, and will continue whether it is just us three, or many, many more. If people would like to come up during the pre-construction phase they are welcome to do so. People can come up and be a part in this in whatever way they like. These people can be of all ages and physical capacity. Just because someone is older and not as physically fit for work, does not mean that they aren't bringing a lifetime of experience with them. I am open to all arrangements, full-time, seasonal, weekends, occasional, and experimental. This will be OUR (the group's) Earth Loving, People Loving, Future Predicting, Star Gazing CLUB.

As far as religion and dogma of communes go, there will not be any of that here. People will be free to believe whatever they like, however: church building, animal sacrifices, crucifictions, and any other over the top activities will be frowned upon. I am not discriminating against any religion, I just don't want people to feel that they have the right to choke it down anyone else's throats. I am hoping that we have a religion, if any, based upon loving the human race, friendship, the earth, and just being good people.

A touch about visions, hopes, and dreams. We will be an equal group, all with an equal say. I am open to all topics and decisions, as long as it is a group decision. However, because of the separate living quarters and the huge expanse of wilderness, people essentially have the right to do as they please.

Thanks for all the great questions Tom, and I hope that you may come to be a big part of this. Please feel free to make any suggestions, because if you are going to be part of the group, this is your baby too.
 
Dan Mangan
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Hi, my name is Danny. I enjoyed reading your responses to the questions. Im am looking to become part of something greater than us, and the only physical way i can see this happening is for us to come together and create it. This current system is not sustainable for us, not to mention for future generations to come. Im still young and that gives me the position of paving the way for others. Ive spent some time this year on a young eco village. It was a very rewarding experience for me because i got an idea how communal living should be, even though i was the only "visitor" they had for an extended period of time. As for right now, I do not wish to become a corporate slave and wish to get back to basics. Knowledge is power when it comes to nature, and I feel, we as a whole are not prepared for the electricity to "shut off", if that is our current future. We live in a great time where we have the tools available to us, for us, to be able to sustain any life we wish to lead. Its very important to me that we as a whole, figure out our future as a whole.

Much Love for all who seek it.
 
Craig Barrett
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Thanks Dan,
I think we are well on our way! Prepare for an adventure! This is going to be an exciting summer!
 
Craig Barrett
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Hey everyone, just a little update on some of the projects so far. Our permaculture farm "Foxgreen Farms" is already up and running, although currently under 7 1/2 feet of snow. The main focus crop of the farm to this point has been seabuckthorn, or seaberries. Currently, at least to our knowledge, Foxgreen Farms is the largest seabuckthorn orchard in the USA. Seaberries, to put it mildly are a Super Food and are also used for many other organic beauty products and holistic medicine. You can learn more about seabuckthorn on our blog at http://seaberry-hippophaerhamnoides.blogspot.com/

Valhalla-Village, the name that we came up with for our wilderness cabin eco-village is well on its way. Currently, we have a 3 acre open area with a 16x24 community building. The building was built with 12 foot high sidewalls, a half loft, and 18ft high vaulted ceilings. The south facing wall is made up of 8 foot high windows. It is a good sized space, and best of all, 75% of it was built with recycled materials. Outside of the community building, there is a small gravel parking area/turn around, a rock fire pit, and multiple walking paths that lead to all ends of the property. The rest of the property is currently made up of small walking paths that lead to numerous flat, semi clear, possible building spots. The paths also lead to the 5 wilderness ponds and the stream. One of the ponds is actually a 5 acre "bog," is what we call them in Maine. This bog is not mud and stagnent water like most people associate with the word bog. This magical ecosystem is home to a type of soft, blanket like moss that is packed with blueberries, wild strawberries, and I believe elderberries. There is a family of bald eagles that call this particular ecosystem home, and it is truly a magnificent place. During certain times of the year, and when the beavers get busy, this area fills with about 2-3 feet of water and becomes even more beautiful. Many a morning I have walked down the trail, cup of coffee in hand, and watched the forest open up into these "gates of heaven." Sometimes if I'm lucky, I can even catch the mother moose and her twin calves playing and eating. This area gave me such a sense of peace, that it played a major role in the name Valhalla-Village. Valhalla is the name that the Vikings used for heaven. This place, is my heaven.

Below is a picture of a moose in the field at Foxgreen Farm. Enjoy, and please feel free to join and dream with me.
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Craig Barrett
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A picture of the "bog" mentioned above.
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Jeff Wescott
Posts: 5
Location: Preston Hollow, New York, USA
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Craig,
I have been watching this thread for the last day or so, and I must say that you have a awesome dream. It also looks like you've done your homework in thinking this out quite well.
I myself would love to be a part of such a community, although I originally thought I would look towards moving west from here (Catskills N.Y. area) to find such a place to be a part of, I think more important than a geographical location, is feeling comfortable in the Ideals and structure of the community that I hope to take part in. Yours so far sounds the most appealing to me.
I will definitely be keeping an eye on this thread , and contemplating a trip up in the near future, to meet you and have a look around (if you agree of course).
 
Tom DeCoste
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Location: Seboeis Plantation, ME
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Craig,
Your neighbor Tom here This dream of ours is one of our connections. If I can take a little liberty with description, the roots and trunk of the dream grew and became strong with a wish of advancing the branching options a person could choose.

There are so few options to make a break from the consumer whirlpool of current society. I think sometimes with "advances" being made at breakneck speed, much of our species very recent history has been quickly dulled. Only about 75 years ago most people lived in agrarian communities, knew each other and understood "neighbors" weren't incidental. Heck, I remember my grandmother sending us out to pick clover blossoms. She would perform some magic over the stove with them and abracadabra, there was clover honey.

Craig, we have talked a lot and our visions are compatible. Mine leans toward the farm, so I would like to talk about that in some detail over the next few days. I would like to say now, I envision a beautiful landscape where there is a whole system at work.

First let me share some of my motivations. Not very long ago there was a story in the New York Times and I thought it was terrifying. The reporter was just reporting the latest trend.

"It was striking for what could not be heard"

On the west side of the square, city workers ripped up the street with jackhammers. On the east side, a stalled caravan of drivers, no doubt frustrated by streets closing for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, leaned on their car horns.

But in the middle, there might as well have been a cone of silence. A mass of people, head-bobbing, arms-above-the-head, conga line-forming, full-tilt boogie woogie emitted what seemed like no sound but rather music visible.

Everyone danced in place, listening to an iPod and prancing to his or her own playlist. For long minutes, in the distance, only the ever-present bongo players could be heard, while close up only shoes, or bare feet, could be heard padding on concrete. Video cameras and cellphones were everywhere.

A man explained to his friend: "Its a silent rave. Everyone is dancing to whatever is on their iPod. "

It was reported 7,000 people confirmed on Facebook and 7,000 people had a good time.

Fast forward a few years and this type of crowd-sourced isolation is the norm (think smart phones and anyone, anyplace you see). I don't want to ride alongside and wish it weren't so, I have searched my brain for a cure and shed a few tears in the process.

The farm: I purchased a good bit of land in central Maine about 14 years ago. The area is isolated, quiet, and, on a overcast night with a new moon, so dark you cannot see your hand in front of your face with your eyes wide open. I have found that being in a place so natural for an extended period of time, the world doesn't seem so far away as you might think. We don't realize how much we give up in order to have so much stuff. The absence of television, traffic noise, and street lights doesn't limit but expands my perception of what the earth I live on has to offer. Smells, wind, and sounds, oh the sounds, are normalized the way I believe humans nearly always perceived and were built to interpret. If everyone had a couple of weeks (or more!) to detox from the modern world, they, like me, would find that there is little need for the weather forecast when the sound, direction, and feel of the wind is dead-on accurate as a predictor. Mice walking can be heard. Larger animals can be discovered with a nuanced change noticed by the nose below your eyes. An oh, there is so much more....

The first many years were spent building a log cabin, cutting trails and thinning the forest to improve the habitat for the trees and the wildlife (and reducing the fire danger). A couple of years ago I cleared a good bit of land which had weakened hardwoods (from prior logging) and had most of it stumped out.


The result was the backbone of what I hope will be a wonderful place to live, grow, teach, and learn. As I said recently on my blog, "Sea buckthorn may be a cornerstone, and we promise, as we build this newer way of living, to experiment and explore, share and invite, smile and embrace, and support each other, the land, and we invite you to come along with us." --Tom
 
Craig Barrett
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Jeff,

Thanks for your interest. The Catskills area is gorgeous, im sure you feel the same type of obsession with Autumn and the color of the woods as I do. Below is a picture of the trees lining our stream, taken in the fall. I appreciate your outlook on ideals and structure, that is also a very important perspective to me. First and foremost, I want to have a laid back, happy feeling at our place. This place is the essence of peace and happiness to me, and I want it to remain that way. An open mind, team oriented attitude, love for nature, and fun loving personality are the only prerequisites here. To me, extremism seems to accomplish about the same thing as ignorance...absolutely nothing. Most extremists just spend more time sitting around preaching about their beliefs and persecutions than actually accomplishing work.

An example: Collecting firewood for winter. A group sits down, argues over whether to take standing trees, down trees, live trees that might be in the way, whether to expend gas using a chainsaw,or to use only hand tools. Then the argument usually moves to habitat, animals, and insects. Then it moves to lets not burn wood. Eventually, the group accomplishes nothing, or they end up having to leave the off-grid idea and high tail it back to town where there is a gas furnace to keep them warm. Arguments can be made for all of these schools of thought, but the idea is to come to a mutual group agreement, and get the mission accomplished.

My view on such things is common sense. First, the woods. I don't want to cut down standing live trees unless there is a benefit to it. One benefit here in Maine is the fact that thinning smaller trees helps the large trees grow bigger and stronger, and heading back towards an old growth forest. Also, cutting smaller trees creates saplings and chutes that the moose love to eat. If someone is planning a cabin site, then that site can be select cut and used for firewood. Chainsaws make the job easier, especially if our numbers are small. I am all for different opinions and ways of doing things, and I will by no means stomp my feet and say "we are doing it this way." The main issue here is to get the goal accomplished, and that goal is to become self sufficient, as fast and respectfully to the environment as possible.

I hope some of this made sense to you, and to everyone else. I am open to all schools of thought, but at the same time, the people who dry their own feces to cook with might want to keep that business to themselves lol.

I look forward to hearing more from you, and hopefully you will plan to come visit, or even stay. Please feel free to offer your opinions too. This is not just my dream, it's everyone's who wants to participate.

Tom,

Thanks so much for participating in this forum, and I love your ideas for the future. I have been burried in Ben Faulk's book and I can't wait to implement more wonderful things at the farm.

Everyone and anyone,

Please feel free to add any thoughts. We are looking for anyone who wants to come visit, stay, or just chat. It's going to be an amazing summer!
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stream in autumn
 
Jeff Wescott
Posts: 5
Location: Preston Hollow, New York, USA
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Craig,
All of what you said makes a lot of sense to me. For example, your example of the harvesting of wood is exactly how I feel. Proper thinning of the forest is good for the health of the wood lot when done properly. and as much as I would like to rid myself from as much dependence on oil companies, and big corporations, some things are more practical especially in establishing a basic infrastructure in the community. Just like your view of ATV's , snowmobiles, and automobile usage that you posted about earlier. I agree completely with your thoughts on that.
I recently saw an interesting wood splitting device posted on living off the grid on Facebook. seemingly effortless manually powered. I do believe I have all the steel needed to build this thing and will set out to do so very soon.
I guess my point on that is if that works for real as it appears to on the video, there would be no need for a hydraulic woodsplitter, not that I currently use one, (I have split all of my fire wood by splitting maul for the last five years)
I do my best towards living up to the "reduce, reuse, recycle" motto. and learn and improve as I get older.
I've decided that the life I once lived - buying a car to get to work where I wear clothes that I had to buy for work, leaving my house to go to work all to pay for that car, those clothes, and that house that I only got to spend one third of my waking life in - isn't for me anymore.
I want to work and enjoy my time with like minded people, enjoying each others company. working together for the common good of all, and the environment around us.
I have some figuring out to do down here for the time being, in the meantime I will continue participating in this thread .
The pictures posted on this thread of your land (and the moose) are awesome.
Your right the Catskills are awesome in the fall, as Im sure it is up there, but we don't have moose down here, (normally anyway)lol
So far I have only two questions:
1- what is the current water supply on the land?
2- could you post a picture of the main building you were speaking of?
 
Craig Barrett
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Jeff,
I am very happy to hear that we share the same thoughts. A splitting maul is a great tool, but alot of work. Koodos to you my friend for all of that hard work. I would love to hear more about the manual wood spitter that you plan to build.

As to your two questions.
1. Water supply. Currently on the 53 acres we plan to use for Valhalla-Village, the water supply is either water from the 3000ft stream which has a fantastic place where it leaves a huge natural filter of peat moss, or rainwater collection. Rainwater collection is very doable up here, it rains plenty, and those 250 gallon tanks are available almost free all over the state. My dream for all of the small cabins to set everyone up with rainwater collection for use with cooking, washing, bathing, and watering of personal plants being grown at the cabin. I would like to install a hand pump well near the community building for everyones drinking water if they wish. The stream is drinkable, but you never know. Foxgreen Farm already has an amazing well installed and produces some of the cleanest water in the state, according to the University of Maine. That is also an option for drinking water, and could be accomplished by using the blue plastic 5 gal water jugs from Walmart. But the long term plan is to install a well closer to the cabins for drinking water. The cost of such a project was semi-quoted by a professional at around $3000.

2. Pictures of the main building. I actually had an entire folder of pictures of the building, taken in timelapse during the entire construction phase. Unfortunately, I redeployed to Afghanistan last fall (Still here at the moment) and my macbook bit the dust, along with all my pictures of the building. The current state of the building is a shell. The roof however has tarps on it, but is doing well. The first project for when the snow melts is to finish the roof with metal roofing and close in the gable ends. Tom may have a picture of the building, I will check with him. Foxgreen Farms currently has a finished log cabin sitting on a walk out basement. The cabin has full off grid utilities.

Thanks for your interest and I look forward to meeting you. We have alot of great plans for the future and are in a perfect place as far as the dream goes. We have enough infrastructure to live full time out there, yet there is still enough of a blank slate to make it into whatever we want. Maybe we can get lucky and Tom will post a couple pictures, hopefully of the cabin at Foxgreen Farms, and of the in progress community building at Valhalla-Village.
 
Tom DeCoste
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Hello Jeff-
I have been wrapped up in getting my taxes done. I apologize for not writing a little sooner. And I am going to apologise for not expanding on the dream as much as I would like to right now.
I do have a couple of photo's of the building on Craig's property and some of mine. I am going to jump in here in the few minutes to post some of these photos and come back to explain more.
There is a lot of vision here as well somw which is yet to be realized.

Current Foxgreen Farm Plan


This is the current aerial photo of Foxgreen Farm

Cabin at Foxgreen Farms

Me working on the field (new at the time of photo)


An aerial photo of Craig's place.

Central or Community building under construction at Craig's

Another view, lots of windows



I'll be back soon to finish the post..........
 
Tom DeCoste
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Hello everyone- I updated the previous post, it was kinda a mess. check out the updated one--Thanks
 
Jeff Wescott
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Location: Preston Hollow, New York, USA
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Tom, Don't apologize for any delays, There is no major rush on at this time. Thanks for posting the pics, they defiantly do give me a better Idea of the place in a physical sense.
Currently I'm doing a lot of number crunching with my finances, and spending quite a bit of time developing a design and floorplan for a small cabin that fit within the specs stated earlier in this tread.
I am sure I will have more questions soon, but for now I am working on what I need to do to make it happen on my end.
 
Craig Barrett
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Hi Jeff,
Glad to hear you are still interested and that you are planning floor layouts for a cabin, that is wonderful, and fun at the same time. Please feel free to share any of your ideas. The main specs that I am concerned with as far as size, is that it is moveable, should you wish to leave at any point, or want to move it to a different location on the property. Moveable can mean a lot of different things, whether on skids, or screwed together in sections, or built on a trailer like a tiny home. Probably one of the cheapest options would be to just buy a premade garden shed from lowes or home depot, dress it up a bit, insulate it, and call it a day. My only concern is that it looks nice and isn't an eye sore for the surrounding landscape, which I don't think would be a problem with the type of people this idea would attract in the first place. Also, I am completely fine with people using tents for the summer, or teepees, or all of us crashing in the community building while we all help build. This is becoming more and more exciting every day. The research has been done, the dream has been dreamt, and some of the construction has begun. All we need is people, imagination, and hard work at this point. Let me know if I can do anything to help. Thanks. -Craig
 
Josh Wells
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I really like that first picture with the drawing of Foxgreen Farm. What did you use to create that?
 
Tom DeCoste
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Josh Wells wrote:I really like that first picture with the drawing of Foxgreen Farm. What did you use to create that?

Hello Josh- It was originally created for a project called Warren Commons, a think-tank type thing. It however, fits in perfectly with the topography of the existing site. As far as what was used, imagingation is the best answer.
 
Tom DeCoste
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Response to an email regarding the dream. I thought it was worth posting here too.

Hello,
I'll answer your questions as directly as possible and then do a little talking probably.
Are there stages of participation? I would say yes, but they are not well defined right now as this is so new. My feeling is that, like a new seed which is planted the roots find the best nutritive spot and the branches, the most light. A lot of that will be by trial and error. I do not envision any type of organized rankings, levels, similar to karate belt colors or earned levels of enlightenment. I think the stages would be largely up to the person. Some people might like to have a camping spot they can come and go as they please. Others might like to try to make a more sustainable existence. ( We are working towards that. ) So would people have to qualify somehow? No. I have faith a share and share alike goal for work and rewards will win the day for those who make their own decision to participate.

Can you use an RV for shelter while building. That is a simple one to answer. Yes. Key is that it should be understood the temporary nature of it and there is a plan for its removal, sale, or return. Those type of shelters are good but can end up to be a white elephant in the woods which is difficult to dispose of.

Are the lots/building pre-planned and/or need approval/ assistance available. That's a big question. The land owners- Craig and/or me will decide where the choices are for anyone who would like to build a structure. There is a lot of space and I think if you choose to visit and make a personal assessment of the area, there will be a location which is just perfect in your mind and is ok with us.

Resources is a big word. Could you use standing timber to cut up and make a structure? the answer is yes and no. Yes with the approval of either Craig or I (depending on whose land it is on) and the size etc. My best guess is there is enough standing timber which should be thinned out to use for structural needs. No problem with that. Other resources like water fall mainly in the category of being respected and preserved. The gold and silver deposits are off limits .

If you have an idea for other or recycled materials, we are all ears. There is certainly lots of innovative and brilliant ideas out there. Remember some of these might not result in a moveable structure so that might be something to discuss further and consider. A rule of thumb would be that it should fit into the environment without being an eyesore or out of a reasonable harmony with its surroundings.

Craig and I both hope there will be other people pursuing similar goals and wish to join us. We currently do not have anyone who is also looking for a partner/co-adventurer. Craig and I both spend as much time as possible on the property. This is a project which is not one color but a kaleidoscope of journeys bringing this all together. It has been and will be a lot of work on Craig and my parts so we cannot be planned on for 24/7 assistance. Having said that. We help people and absolutely love to do that.

Cleared land for planting. I have done a lot of that work on my part of the land. After centuries of strip logging, the soil is not what you might hope. I am in the process of soil building on a large piece of land. Craig and I have been discussing bringing in some compost/loam to jump start the process which I expect will be perpetuated into the future with deliberate composting/soil building efforts. Bottom line, there will be spots to plant many things.

The economics of farming is your last question. The plan is to first develop a resilient, and sustainable(perennial) food system. This will sooner and later produce surpluses which will be used to sell and further the health and quality of life of the participants. As you know, annual crops produce the same year. Fruit and nut etc. plants take some years to yield, so this is a multi-year and we ultimately hope, multi-generational project.

Do we share, eat etc. together. I hope so. The newness is both exciting and limiting at the moment, this limits my response because of so many unknowns. The common building should be completed by early summer. This will have an area for cooking and eating at the very least.

Thanks for all the questions and please ask more or let me know if I missed anything.
--Tom and Craig
 
Craig Barrett
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Welcome to Valhalla Village. Currently working on a blog and website and a brainstorm area for members. Still looking for like minded people.

wayfare.jpg
[Thumbnail for wayfare.jpg]
 
Bill Kearns
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Greetings Craig and Tom!

We found this thread doing some research on sea-buckthorn and were immediately taken with your vision and mention of Afghanistan ... we are working with a non-profit called Afghanistan Samsortya to rejuvenate the ravaged countryside. This is a virtual group of folks working from many locations to provide seeds to three established nurseries and recently chickens and milk cows to families that will be bred to multiply and help whole communities regain their self-reliance. (Afghanistan Samsortya) We are planning to incorporate sea-buckthorn both in eastern Afghanistan and on our own semi-arid site in eastern Washington state.

Regarding your vision, I thought I'd mention Bob Corker as an expert information source regarding intentional communities, community land-trusts, and general community arrangements. Many links to Bob's interviews and community thoughts are contained in this thread: http://forums.permaculturenews.org/showthread.php?16179-Round-5-Ask-Bob-Corker-a-Question-on-Community-Land-Trusts Thought that I'd offer it as an information source for your project.

Just one video of Bob Corker from the thread above:
 
Brock Samson
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Craig my name is Jason Horton 30 years old I'm married and have a3 year old daughter my wife and I I've been looking for exactly what you have been talking about doing up in Maine we are currently in Massachusetts but would love to help get something like that started and stay in it for the long term bye raising animals growing our own food essentially we want to be fully self sustainable I would love the opportunity to help start a community doing this please email me back is that would love to talk to you more my email is Brksamson84@gmail.com
I am very eager to hear back from you good luck thank you craig
 
Julie Kilmer
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Hey all Permies members!

I am responding to Craig who wrote the post in March about starting an ecovillage in Maine.

I'm Julie and reside in Western Maine and have been thinking and researching this idea now for several years. Not sure where you are, you mentioned Afghanistan in several posts and pray you are safe.

I'd love to talk with you and the other members who also posted, because I have been looking for land that will be suitable for such an endeavor. Sustainable living doesn't need to be such a mind shift, but we have all been trained since birth to do certain things, live, and work in a manner that is not sustainable for us or the earth.

It was inspiring to read your posts and some of your ideas for a shared village and truly believe it is possible to live a sustainable, peaceful life!

Eager to hear from you Craig and any others who may be interested. I am full of ideas, but more importantly believe.

Peace and Love,
Julie7
 
Jeff Wescott
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Location: Preston Hollow, New York, USA
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Welcome to the thread,
I haven't posted on here in a while, I am still very interested in Craig's dream and being a part of it. Unfortunately it looks like I have to wait till the spring of 2015 before I can make the move up if everything is still a go on Craig and Tom's end up there. In the mean time I am saving up money, and collecting free building materials such as doors and windows to build the cabin with.
So I will spend the time from now till then learning and brushing up on some of the skills that I'm not as knowledgeable in such as canning etc....
 
Vincent Alexander
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Hello Craig,
Boy am I happy to discover this little green gem in Maine! I love your attitude and ideas man! I'd like to come out for the remainder of warm season at the very least, I just have some questions for you.. First off my name is Alex, I'm 34, single male. Been living the suburban life in Murrieta (south ca) for the last 20 years and I am just itching to get out of here and into a rural Eco village setting where so can live true to my inherent values (earth care, people care, fair share) in harmony with nature and like minded neighbors. I am not religious, maybe spiritual.. Deep thinker, writer, musician, artist.. And I just love permaculture more than anything.

So please get in touch with me to discuss moving me out to your Eco village. I know I will be a great asset to the group. I don't know how I feel about the winters there, but perhaps I'll "warm up" to the idea ha

951-254-3630
NiceDayVince@gmail.com
Skype: nicedayalex

 
J Lindsey
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This has been an awesome read. My wife and I have bought 49 acres in Central Maine as well and have started to grow a like minded community. We have had some run ins with town officials due to pesky neighbors complaining about how we do things and the fact that we reuse just about everything when building. Such as giant tractor tires that we plan on filling with cement for foundations and such. We built our home this year closer to the front due to having kids and needing something for the winter. The town officials basically said that when we move further out back we will have no troubles at all because no one is going to bother to go miles in the woods to look at anything. We have some people living with us currently and really are looking to expand. A great deal of what you said is how we are thinking as well. We have been doing 1 acre "lots" for $100 a month and that is just for personal area as we have tons of shared areas like the garden, kitchen and such.

How are you guys finding people of , for lack of better words, quality? A handful of people have come stayed a weekend and then disappear, which to each their own. But we want to find long term like minded people to share this dream with and we have had some luck but not much.

Our term we are using is not self-sustainability, but more of a Community Self-sustainability. We would like for no one to need anything more than what we can provide from the land in which we live. This of course will take time and people to make happen and we hope it does work out.
 
Austin Clayton
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Hey Craig,

My name is Austin Clayton I am 26 y/o M and my partner Bethany 29y/o F and I have been reading this thread for a while now and finally decided to contact you. We along with our 5 month old daughter live in Solon, ME right now after hopping around the country for the past few years. We are now looking for some place to throw down some roots with like minded folks. We are free thinking, peaceful, simple people that just want to do our own thing and not have to answer to an authority figure( we are both Vets, go figure). Bethany and I met at a wilderness college/traditional skills school in WA state and plan to wean our selves off of the modern lifestyle slowly but surely. We are looking for much slower paced, simpler life and we are very interested in coming out and seeing the place and meeting you and seeing if this living situation would be a good fit for all parties involved. Feel free to contact me with any question or comments that you might have, we sincerely look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Cheers,
Austin

Ajclayton53@gmail.com
863-517-1535
 
Jane Piselli
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Hello Craig, I am a 24y/o educator/facilitator and am extremely interested in what you are trying to set up. Where are you located in central Maine? How did this past season treat you?


Jane
janepiselli@gmail.com
 
Vincent Black
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I am so glad I stumbled upon this site! This is my first post after reading a ton of information. First of all, I absolutely love the ideas Craig and Tom have for the little slice of heaven in Maine. I am very interested in the idea of getting together as a little village/community of people working together and enjoying life instead of putting up with this rat race the rest of my life. A little about me, I am a single 37 year old Diesel Mechanic currently living in Florida. A little over 4 years ago I put together a 5 year plan of things I wanted to accomplish so that as middle age sets in I can be a little more at peace and comfortable. The last thing on that list is leaving Florida and tentatively planning on Spring 2015 moving to Southern Vermont to kinda restart my life and find a little land to build on. Having nothing to tie me to this idea, and really, I have yet to find anything to my taste in Vermont, I have started entertaining the idea of looking elsewhere. I am more than intrigued by what you have got going on as far as a dream for the place. So far being in the suburbs, I am very limited as far as practicing most of the things I learn. There are so many many things I have learned from reading books, watching youtube videos and a couple of the farms I have visited in the south-east. I would like to hear more about what goes on up there, how the place makes it through the winter, and what the future plans are. I would be more than willing to consider amending my plans and plant some roots in Maine. Do you have anything like a workshop/hobby shop area with poured concrete? If it did work out that I could come even just to help for a while, I would need a place for my tools as they are extensive and would surely come in handy. There is an idea I had a while back for a very unique hydroponics setup that would work extremely well for bringing in enough food for the community as well as a possible revenue stream. There are a wide range of things I have studied and have knowledge/experience with that I feel would help any community like yours. Let me know and we can talk some more about it.

slight - at - 27pro - dot - com
 
Camille Carrigan
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I'm VERY interested in moving to Maine and living Off Grid and I've been looking at what kind of options are out there. I'd certainly be open to some sort of "community" however I'd also like to have a private area for living. I'm a single 59 year old woman with multiple pets(cats and dogs). I'd like to have at least an acre to live on. Would anyone be open to allowing an RV? This is probably what I could afford initially. I'm looking for something long term. I feel that with the climate change situation, time is getting short to establish a self-sufficient lifestyle.
 
antonia hernandez
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Craig,

I just came across your post. Sounds very interesting. My name is Antonia and me and my family have been looking to move off grid for a few years now. We currently live in the city and raise rabbits chickens and ducks. we are looking for a place we can build a cabin and stay fulltime. We currently live in Michigan but we are open to moving just about anywhere lol. I am originally from Washington state and my Husband from Michigan we have lived in California when he was in the Navy and then Bremerton Washington when he was stationed there and now we live in Michigan. I would love to talk more with you please email me at manjang23@gmail.com Look forward to talking with you further.
 
Tom DeCoste
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It has been a while since we posted an update here. Things have moved forward dramatically. In a month or so we are adding a visitor center where interested people can visit and see if this wilderness farm life might be for them. Still tons of work to do. If you are interested in visiting this summer, the cost would be minimal and you can have a hand in this unique adventure.
 
Elizabeth Jezorski
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Hello. I created an account just to talk to you! I have a very similar vision, something I've been passionate about for many years. I currently live midcoast. I would love to talk to you, see if we can inspire each other's work and maybe find a way to co-create. My vision is a little different than yours, but that doesn't mean something won't come from a collaboration. I've been envisioning a couple hundred acres, families privately owning 2 1/2 acre parcel. Shared farms and gardens, barns, workshops, storage along with a healing and retreat center, school for our children, community center with industrial kitchen, and yoga/dance studio. Community businesses, etc. I am currently working to find a group of others to bounce ideas off of each othe I am currently working to find a group of others to bounce ideas around with, and discuss the possibilities of getting grant money to help finance the project. I don't know how often I will check into this account, so please email me if you'd like to talk further. Namaste. Liquidmeditation@yahoo.com
 
Elizabeth Jezorski
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I also just wanted to put out there that there are several of us talking about meeting in late January, somewhere near Portland to share our thoughts and inspirations on co-creating sustainable community. Not sure where it will be hosted yet, so ideas would be amazing. But it would be great if you and anyone else you know would like to come.
 
Tom DeCoste
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Hi Elizabeth- I will email you directly but wanted to put an update for everyone to see as well. We had a great year overall. Many of our plans at the farm have been delayed so the visitor center is still on the drawing board. Next season the potential is even better however. Another 2 properties have been purchased. This brings the total wilderness acreage to 97 and an "on grid" farm of 10 acres. I am looking forward to networking with others in the area/state and moving forward to a sustainable lifestyle for ourselves and the community.
 
Stephen Sherman
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Location: Telford, PA
food preservation forest garden woodworking
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Hello. I am a long time Permies lurker that created an account to specifically reply to this post. I came across it while doing my research on Maine and the types of things I am interested in like homesteading, self-sufficiency, alternative buildings and energy, agriculture, and general outdoorsy stuff. I have frequently thought about living secluded in the woods or an island somewhere every since I was young. I read a book called "My Side of the Mountain" about a young boy who lived in the wild forest of upstate NY. I really like the colder climates and a rugged way of life. I don't know why, but I have spent most of life bouncing around from one place and job to another without ever really pursuing my dream. I guess I felt the need to try and fit in and do things the "normal" way. I am pretty much done with that, and committed to pursuing my dreams. I am 36 now and starting to realize life is too short to not live life the way you want to. I have spent the past few years researching sustainable living and alternative housing and energy. I have also been looking for the best places to do what I am interested in. I had already narrowed it down to Maine before coming across this article and have spent the last couple months researching real estate and locations. I am glad I found this topic because it may give me a chance to practice (and possibly stay long term) as well as check out some different parts of Maine and find the best piece of land for my purposes. I have been an avid hiker and have been along the Appalachian Trail in Maine so I was naturally drawn to the central part of Maine, although I also have an affinity for the ocean and coast as well. I could easily see myself in either location, both giving an opportunity to focus on different activities. In either location I would be interested in living a homestead lifestyle, growing, gathering, and hunting most of my own food. I have some experience in almost every area of this type of life, but would value close connections with other likeminded individuals to fill in the gaps and learn more.

I am definitely more of an introvert and loner, but that doesn't mean I don't like to interact with others. Philosophically I would say I am libertarian oriented and see individual anarchy as an ultimate goal if possible. I value personal freedom and responsibility, and generally support others choices so long as they aren't agressive or imposing on me. I easily get along with others so long as our interactions are voluntary and beneficial to both parties. I am an amateur philosopher of sorts and prefer to look at life as it could or should be as opposed to concentrating on how it is now. I believe we have reached a point in human evolution where survival is no longer the goal, and we need to take the next step to thrive as a species without destroying the environment around us. I truly believe that human beings have a lot of growing and evolution left to do and we have only begun to scratch the surface. So far we have relied exclusively on technology to do so, and I do love technology, but it is our social interactions that have stagnated and are the cause of many problems in our society. Sometimes people call me a hippie because of my long hair and full beard, and I am not offended, but it isn't very accurate. I am not that interested in the spiritual side of life and tend to be more logical and science based in my approach. I also am not interested in counter-culture and rebelling against any system. I just want to live my life and hopefully leave the world in a better place that it was when I started. I may not be the most bubbly personality at the party, but once I make a connection I am an open book and would do anything I can to help the people I choose to spend my time with.

I value other people that have skills that I could only hope to have. I especially appreciate artists and performers of all kinds because I have very little talent in this area. I also appreciate the mechanically inclined, which I am far better at understanding in theory than executing in real life. I have made great strides purchasing a small tractor and attempting to restore it on my own. I have managed to get it completely apart, but putting it back together is proving to be a bit more difficult I also really respect people that have a completely innocent and open heart. Various circumstances in my life have probably left me a little more jaded than most, but my hope is constantly restored by some truly great people I have met. After reading some of the musings of Tom, Craig, and others I already feel a bit connected without ever having met or conversed. I can tell by the way you write that we have much common ground, which I have rarely felt even when living in cities with millions of people.

I would really be interested in joining your community, likely in the Spring of 2017. I would like to be one of the first to build a small cabin that I will likely move on from at some point to have my own property which is hopefully connected to this community in some way. I have a lot of skills to bring to the table. I have remodeled an old home myself in the past. I am good with construction, electrical, plumbing, etc., and have done a lot of research on alternatives to the mainstream way of doing things. I have a background from my military time in IT and communications. I am also a pretty good cook and have taken college classes as well as worked a year as a cook in a pretty cool restaurant. I have done a good bit of gardening and am interested in organizing a large scale production garden for eating, preserving, and some selling. I am very intersted in learning more about animals and have raised chickens in the past. I grew up hunting, but haven't done as much as I would like as an adult. I enjoy small game and birds the most and using my dog to help. I also enjoy fishing especially via kayak and have done quite a bit of scuba diving as well and have all the equipment for deep cold water.

I look forward to hearing more about this community and hopefully making some personal connections. I am not just a browser or outsider looking in. I am very serious about coming to Maine and possibly even taking a trip this fall to scout things out. If a perfect property presents itself elsewhere, I may jump on it, but would still be interested in connecting with this group of likeminded individuals. I only know one person that lives in Maine thus far and am wide open as to which part of the state I paln to settle permanently. I am somewhat concerned about some towns and areas that seem a little hostile to "flatlanders" and people seeking an alternative lifestyle. I am very excited about the new national monument, and have been disturbed by a lot of the negative reactions it has received. I think having a good relationship with other local people is important, but at the same time would like to avoid towns because of their overly burdensome regulations and taxes.
 
You didn't tell me he was so big. Unlike this tiny ad:
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