My husband and I have been preparing for the last couple of years to sell our home and move to some acreage. We would love to relocate up to the mountains near a creek or a river. But this would take us further away from both our parents and adult siblings, most of which live less than an hour's drive from our current home. I've considered moving to just outside of the city where my parents live, which is mostly agricultural fields, flat land with few trees except for the commercial orchards. But I'm concerned about residual pesticides, crop dusting, and other such nuisances.
What would be the most important consideration to you? Do you think there is a way that we could "have it all"? How can I choose between my family and my dream? And if I did move further away from family, how could I find or build reliable friendships or find a support community?
By the way, most of my family are committed city folk who have no desire to live remotely, with the exception of my mother who would probably adore homesteading if she ever had the chance to try it. Don't know if that makes a difference at all.
I think one of the prime imperatives of permaculture is to make your own permaculture haven no matter where you might find yourself.
I also think that no one escapes toxins - they are everywhere in the world in soils, air and water. This is why there are "dead zones" out in the middle of the ocean and the fallout from the Fukushima disaster in Japan has infiltrated the Western USA. We, as permies, must work to increase biomass to help clean them.
We also must take it upon ourselves to create community wherever we go and use our skills and time to build the world we want to live in.
Subtropical desert (Köppen: BWh)
Elevation: 1090 ft Annual rainfall: 7"
I agree with you that it's important to take our ideals and apply them to whatever situation that we happen to be in. This is why we are currently keeping chickens and bees, gardening, harvesting firewood from our own neighborhood, composting, cloth diapering, homeschooling, and reducing our use of non-renewable resources wherever possible. We're not waiting to find our ideal homestead before beginning. But we do know that we would be happier relocating to a place where we are not as restricted in our livestock and where we may have more space to grow the many foods that we are interested in producing, and we're keen to put ourselves in a situation zoned more appropriately for our activities, rather than having to worry about keeping the neighbors happy so that they don't report us.
I do realize that there are toxins all over the place, and it's impossible to get away from them entirely. However, I do believe that the toxins in a conventional agricultural area are significantly higher than they would be in a rural mountain community. If you have a next-door neighbor that has crop dusting done on their plants, you're going to end up with some on yours. If most of your neighbors up-creek use pesticides on their orchards, they end up in the water in your well. And if the person who you are buying your land from has been using the pesticides on their corn crop every year for twenty or thirty years, it's going to be an uphill battle returning the land to full fertility. This isn't just intellectually uncomfortable. Toxins in our water have increased in the last two years, and I have to work a lot harder to get cloth diapers clean without resorting to chemical detergents. There are areas where the water is so bad that it is impossible to keep diapers clean enough to use without causing chemical burns. And I'm not just assuming that there may be horrible problems that I've read about somewhere on the internet in this community -- I grew up there, and visit often. I see crop dusting planes and the mismanagement of huge commercial orchards and the corn fields being plowed and reaped (also the terrible condition of dairy cows and the fields that have turned into deserts because of the recent water laws combined with previous land mismanagement). The problem is there, it's real, and I'm wondering whether or not I want to inherit it for the sake of being near family.
Everybody has their own limit--the trick is usually hoping that close enough to mom isn't too close to the mother-in-law for your spouse.
From a premie point of view, knowing what I know now--the MOST important piece for an easy self sustaining homestead is WATER high in the landscape. If you have enough water high enough you don't need to pump, well that just makes it SO much easier.
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi.
"Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
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