• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • James Freyr
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • Burra Maluca
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • paul wheaton
garden masters:
  • Greg Martin
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • Mike Barkley

Who did you all believe before starting out?

 
master pollinator
Posts: 1375
Location: 4b
287
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

James Freyr wrote:

I knew the lifestyle that I wanted to live was going to be labor intensive, and I am ok with that. It seems to me many people imagine and idealize retirement as relaxing and enjoying leisure time and pleasurable activities, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. Seeing myself in my 70’s taking it easy in a hammock or on a boat with a drink in my hand, for examples, has no appeal. My desire for my life and also “retirement age” became, and still is, hard work every day, but for me it doesn’t feel like work anymore. I’m just doing things I love that make me happy. When I’m old, I want to still be getting up before dawn, and working outside, all day, growing healthy food and raising healthy, happy animals, living an agrarian lifestyle. I will be delighted if I keel over and die in my 90’s or older, outside under the warmth of the sun, serenaded by songbirds and the bellows of mooing cows, working in my garden.  



Amen
 
pollinator
Posts: 338
Location: North central Ontario
38
kids dog books chicken earthworks cooking solar wood heat woodworking homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I did not see any bad mouthing in your posts. I understood from them that you would like to know an author's  financial history before judging their advice. I get that but I think you would spend vast amounts of energy for very little reward. The western world is a culture of absolute silence on financial matters. We might brag about and flaunt affluence but We don't teach financial literacy and don't talk honestly about it sometimes even to ourselves. Build a good life, try to change what you can, teach others if they will listen, adopt what works, ignore the fools, have fun...
Cheers,  David
 
Posts: 108
Location: Virginia
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

David Baillie wrote:I did not see any bad mouthing in your posts. I understood from them that you would like to know an author's  financial history before judging their advice. I get that but I think you would spend vast amounts of energy for very little reward. The western world is a culture of absolute silence on financial matters. We might brag about and flaunt affluence but We don't teach financial literacy and don't talk honestly about it sometimes even to ourselves. Build a good life, try to change what you can, teach others if they will listen, adopt what works, ignore the fools, have fun...
Cheers,  David



Thanks! I agree with what you are saying. I guess part of my desire was to see full disclosure. However, that desire is driven by motivation to have an honest discussion about going back to the land, fixing the planet etc. We need scalable solutions that apply to the majority of people out there. I firmly believe people are opportunistic animals ;) and the reason they are not farming sustainably, even when they inherited the land without the burden of loans and mortgages is because they do not see an opportunity in this endeavor. If they did, they would be all over it. Well, at least that's what I think. To be specific, in the context of permaculture, I sense a hidden assumption that the majority of people should go back to the land and live a subsistence/barter lifestyle in order the save the planet. However I find this to be at odds with capitalism. So, people try to adapt the idea to capitalism (because they have to make a living!) but it is not easy, is it? :) I have this nagging feeling that people like Mollison understood that agriculture, permaculture etc. all exist within the realm of the economic and political system and they secretly or not so secretly hoped to fix the system from within, via vehicles like permaculture. When I read the books where there is no full disclosure, I feel like the original goals have been betrayed. Does that makes sense?
 
pollinator
Posts: 409
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
63
forest garden tiny house books
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I always wonder about all the stuff you've brought up, too, Oddo. Another thing I wonder about is how all these people on youtube have time to make videos, especially the ones that that are supposedly just starting out.
 
gardener
Posts: 912
Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
200
dog duck chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts pig bike bee solar ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When my husband and I first moved in together in the early 80s, we sat down and watched a little known guy (lol) called Bill Molison talk about permaculture.  I was sold.  We then visited a couple with whom my husband was fostered as a child in Dortset, England.  They had an organic market garden and volunteers from all over the world would visit every year to learn from him.  His name was Arthur Pearse.  He has just died.
https://www.bridportnews.co.uk/news/18149481.tributes-paid-tamarisk-farms-arthur-pearse/
He and his wife, daughter and son in law helped Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, another great motivator, with his tv series 'River Cottage'.

more articles about Tamarisk farm
https://feedingbodyandsoul.com/2017/12/13/tamarisk-organics/
http://tamariskfarm.co.uk/wp/about/
 
Posts: 1
Location: Brooklin, United States
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As to how did the Nearings buy their land in Maine....Back when they did buy. land was so cheap that practically anyone who wanted to do what they were doing, could. They had some savings and Scott was a paid teacher before a pariah. Read their books for a general idea of how they started out. Then came the young happy helpers eager to learn and hang out. It goes on from there. I live near the homestead and the Colemans. The main point here is that in those days land was very cheap. That is why Maine was the place they chose. I also want to know the financial details of how someone gets their start in an enterprise.
 
David Baillie
pollinator
Posts: 338
Location: North central Ontario
38
kids dog books chicken earthworks cooking solar wood heat woodworking homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tess Daniels wrote:As to how did the Nearings buy their land in Maine....Back when they did buy. land was so cheap that practically anyone who wanted to do what they were doing, could. They had some savings and Scott was a paid teacher before a pariah. Read their books for a general idea of how they started out. Then came the young happy helpers eager to learn and hang out. It goes on from there. I live near the homestead and the Colemans. The main point here is that in those days land was very cheap. That is why Maine was the place they chose. I also want to know the financial details of how someone gets their start in an enterprise.


Not to forget the original homestead in Vermont the setting for the good life book...
 
Posts: 7260
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
1226
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Back in the early seventies when we moved to a piece of land with some others, I think I had been most influenced by J.I. Rodale...my grandma subscribed to his Organic Gardening magazine from it's beginning and gave me two of his encyclopedia books in the mid sixties when I was in high school that I only recently passed on to others.

A lot of the old Rodale information is dated now, not always accurate or appropriate even then but certainly for the times quite progressive.

I know some of our peers were reading the Nearings and later on One Straw among so many other relevant books, so I'm sure there was some influence indirectly from them also.  I just recently got a used copy of 'Living The Good Life'  to read for the first time because so many have insisted that we all read that same book and that's how the 'back to the land' movement happened

We did not have such an abundance of information then...just moved to the woods and tried to make it work. I think some musicians and their music might have influenced me just as much as anyone else.

I sometimes think that some folks starting off now might be overthinking things...trying to be too prepared...have too much information available?
...that's just me though and how I've lived my life.  I'm happy where I've ended up but it might not be the right path for someone else.

I don't know if it's quite fair to compare land prices or how easy or hard it was for anyone to homestead in the past. The land where we moved in 1973 was fifty dollars an acre and we still could not afford land until years and years later when we bought another piece for $1000 an acre.  There are just too many things to factor in.

...gather up all the 'knowns', accept that no ones ever completely 'ready' and take the plunge...enjoy the ride
 
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm at step 7 myself and in my second year of gardening and 5 years of laying hens after having finished building my own house and barn over the last 2.5 years in my "spare" time and wondering now anyone ever survived back in the day, much less had extra to sell.  Don't get me wrong, I'm producing excess this year, but I'm hardly self-sufficient and really have trouble seeing that happening.  I realize now that my 40 acres (in E TX) is way more than I can manage part-time (or even full-time).  The question I have is how do you really become self-sufficient in an era of property taxes and sky-rocketing land values?  Do you have to keep moving to areas that are more and more remote?  When we bought this place, it seemed like it was out in the middle of nowhere.  6 years later it's worth more than double (which I'm not really happy about, honestly).  More and more people are moving out here and no one that I know of is actually making a real living off their land.  

I mean, just getting fruit and nut trees to survive a few years is incredibly difficult, much less having any excess produce to sell.  I'm still trying to figure out how to feed myself reliably.

So to summarize, I 100% understand Oddo's point.  How many people are really financing themselves and feeding themselves off a farm/ranch and following perma-culture practices?  I can barely find anything relevant to the type of climate I'm in here.  It's hot and humid in the summer with droughts, and cold and rainy with at least 5 hard freezes every year in the winter.  I do feel like the literature and the TV shows are marketing a dream that's not really attainable.  Don't get me wrong, I'm 100% happy with where I am, but feeding just yourself and your family even with incredible modern resources and a lucrative full-time job is incredibly difficult.

P.S.:  I don't want my post to sound overly pessimistic.  If I could go back in time, I would 100% do the same thing.  It's a journey and your original goals will seem childish and idealistic after a few years.  But I'm still committed to living out here and hate the thought of moving back to the city.  My mom lives out here with us in her own home.  My son and his GF are also living out here with us in a converted workshop.  The thing that turned out the easiest for us was catching all our own water.  That was something no one really mentioned that has been fantastic for us.  Wells are expensive here and produce gross-smelling water.  Our rainwater system meets all of our needs (except for larger-scale irrigation) and is far superior in every way to the city water we had.  Also, you can't touch our fresh eggs, no matter how much you pay for them at the store.  It's like a completely different product -- seriously.  I can barely eat store bought eggs.  I've made mustang grape, blackberry, and fig wine.  They were all fantastic and fun.  And that's what keeps me motivated  Our quality of life (by our standards) is much higher out here.  But do I see myself quitting my day job any time soon? No.  The current economic system seems stacked against anyone becoming self-sufficient or even trying to enter a rustic/barter lifestyle.  If they took away the wildlife ag valuation, I couldn't afford (or even have any control) over my annual property tax burden without a job.  When you think about it, of course it is.  Money's in control and will always be in control is the conclusion I've come to.  I think you really do have to live like a pauper (which I'm actually seriously contemplating) to be self-sufficient.


P.P.S: Full disclosure -- my Mom's carport roof which serves as her water source was ripped up and tossed 300 feet away as a front moved through night before last and then I spent literally half the day yesterday harvesting and processing vegetables out of the garden before the 7th hard freeze of the season here last night.  Luckily, she has a lot of water in her tanks which are undamaged so I have some time to get it rebuilt.  But that's one more item on the already incredibly long todo list.
received_998867320498077.jpeg
[Thumbnail for received_998867320498077.jpeg]
 
Posts: 6
4
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well if this thread is about acknowledging that a lot of things are very wrong in our culture and our world...yup. Oddo you make a lot of good points, about people being sold on a farming fantasy in slick magazines and films. That is right on, and it's most unfortunate. I agree that honesty would be good. However, many people are motivated in an unconscious way by a desperate need for attention and validation. Often we are not able to separate from this longing when faced with an opportunity for fame or wealth, or just being known as the one who has the "correct" answers. So Hollywood worship reaches farms, carried on the wings of famous farm to table chefs building mega-millions farm and "education" centers, making movies and selling books to further enrich themselves.

Also your original post, if I took it personally, would be highly alienating to me. My family--husband, wife, 3 kids now aged 13, 10, and 6--plus an elder who we have adopted each other as family, we purchased 103 acres in the Hudson valley of NY, 90 minutes from midtown Manhattan, almost 6 years ago, when our youngest was an infant. My husband was born and raised in Brooklyn, in a house purchased by his great-grandfather for what would then have been a lower class immigrant amount. Due to family drama, when his parents died my husband was the only one of 4 siblings on the deed, and his solution was to sell the house and distribute the money as best he could figure. His father had been abusive to all of them, and his brother had been extremely abusive to him as well, so imagine what a challenge this was. He really did an amazing job. The house sold for $1.2 million. We used our part of this money to pay the $300,000 for our land, plus closing costs, in cash. The purchase price was "low" for the area because the house we purchased on the land was old and highly shabby/disgusting, so perhaps you would say we were "lucky."

I am home full time on our homestead, homeschooling our children, preparing food for our family to have good health, and developing our gardens with the help of our goat herd which is amazing at eating and deep mulching the vast stretches of poison ivy, mugwort and multiflora rose that blanket much of our land in the areas that were abandoned apple orchards. I am learning bit by bit how to make cheese here successfully, although unfortunately due to the ridiculous regulations I will never be able to sell it, same with the amazing quality milk we have an over abundance of. In fact, in NY at least, we will be hard pressed to earn income from our land and farm without putting our kids in school. My husband works more or less full time, he builds custom rat-rod trucks for people who want flashy toys and have the money to buy them.....I laid out a new garden last year and used plastic double tarps on the paths, because that's how I can deal with meeting my responsibilities. I definitely am thrilled every year to get trailer loads full of horse manure from a nearby stable that doesn't use medications with their horses.

I guess what I am trying to get at here is that nothing is so simple, so black and white, when it comes to money and choices. It is a good idea, in my mind, to make connections with your neighbors. It's a good idea to keep working towards your priorities and learning about how to achieve that given your parameters. It's a great idea to share what you learn, as it could help another person.

But to spend time and energy judging and criticizing how other people choose to present themselves, choose to learn, choose to fund their projects, or basically choose to live in this amazing and sacred creation....I just really believe that you have gifts and talents within you that would better serve you and all the people and the earth that you clearly love so much and want to help in some way.
 
John Opincar
Posts: 6
chicken composting toilet building
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think all he's saying is that he doesn't want to have to rely on fame to get by on his homestead.  I 100% agree with his sentiments.  
 
Posts: 77
9
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For years I've carried a 24 page 3" X 4.5" waterproof paper notebook in my shirt pocket. I'm in Aquaculture and wet conditions are the norm. Even when it's soaking wet, I can write in it with a pencil or an all-weather pen.
I think of these notebooks as my indelible memory. I'm on my 7th one now. They have made a great difference in how I operate my farm and they have definitely helped me make money.
Riteintherain.com item # 971FX-M.
A simple book that got me started on a profitable small farm/business is:
Small-Time Operator...How to Start Your own Small Business, Keep your Books, Pay Your Taxes, And Stay Out of Trouble! By Bernard Kamoroff, C.P.A.
Another book that gave me inspiration is:
Farmers of Forty Centuries....Organic Farming in China, Korea, and Japan. By F.H. King







 
 
Oddo Dassler
Posts: 108
Location: Virginia
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Marly Hornik wrote:Well if this thread is about acknowledging that a lot of things are very wrong in our culture and our world...yup. Oddo you make a lot of good points, about people being sold on a farming fantasy in slick magazines and films. That is right on, and it's most unfortunate. I agree that honesty would be good. However, many people are motivated in an unconscious way by a desperate need for attention and validation. Often we are not able to separate from this longing when faced with an opportunity for fame or wealth, or just being known as the one who has the "correct" answers. So Hollywood worship reaches farms, carried on the wings of famous farm to table chefs building mega-millions farm and "education" centers, making movies and selling books to further enrich themselves.

Also your original post, if I took it personally, would be highly alienating to me. My family--husband, wife, 3 kids now aged 13, 10, and 6--plus an elder who we have adopted each other as family, we purchased 103 acres in the Hudson valley of NY, 90 minutes from midtown Manhattan, almost 6 years ago, when our youngest was an infant. My husband was born and raised in Brooklyn, in a house purchased by his great-grandfather for what would then have been a lower class immigrant amount. Due to family drama, when his parents died my husband was the only one of 4 siblings on the deed, and his solution was to sell the house and distribute the money as best he could figure. His father had been abusive to all of them, and his brother had been extremely abusive to him as well, so imagine what a challenge this was. He really did an amazing job. The house sold for $1.2 million. We used our part of this money to pay the $300,000 for our land, plus closing costs, in cash. The purchase price was "low" for the area because the house we purchased on the land was old and highly shabby/disgusting, so perhaps you would say we were "lucky."

I am home full time on our homestead, homeschooling our children, preparing food for our family to have good health, and developing our gardens with the help of our goat herd which is amazing at eating and deep mulching the vast stretches of poison ivy, mugwort and multiflora rose that blanket much of our land in the areas that were abandoned apple orchards. I am learning bit by bit how to make cheese here successfully, although unfortunately due to the ridiculous regulations I will never be able to sell it, same with the amazing quality milk we have an over abundance of. In fact, in NY at least, we will be hard pressed to earn income from our land and farm without putting our kids in school. My husband works more or less full time, he builds custom rat-rod trucks for people who want flashy toys and have the money to buy them.....I laid out a new garden last year and used plastic double tarps on the paths, because that's how I can deal with meeting my responsibilities. I definitely am thrilled every year to get trailer loads full of horse manure from a nearby stable that doesn't use medications with their horses.

I guess what I am trying to get at here is that nothing is so simple, so black and white, when it comes to money and choices. It is a good idea, in my mind, to make connections with your neighbors. It's a good idea to keep working towards your priorities and learning about how to achieve that given your parameters. It's a great idea to share what you learn, as it could help another person.

But to spend time and energy judging and criticizing how other people choose to present themselves, choose to learn, choose to fund their projects, or basically choose to live in this amazing and sacred creation....I just really believe that you have gifts and talents within you that would better serve you and all the people and the earth that you clearly love so much and want to help in some way.



Marly, thank you for your reply. It is a good story but above all, an HONEST one. So, if you wrote in your book or told it on your TV show - how you got where you are and what you and your husband are doing to keep the dream going - I think that would then make you into a person that anyone in a similar situation (paid cash for homestead, so on and so on) could relate to and BELIEVE. If, however, you wrote a book about homesteading and living on the farm and leaving the city and you neglected to tell that you paid cash for your land and you have no mortgage - would that not be .... different? If you presented you and your husband as two full-time homesteaders as opposed to disclosing that he works full-time to support the dream, well, would that not be... misleading?

Note that I am not judging and criticizing, I am questioning whether the whole or at least part of the whole back to the land movement is built on non-disclosure or partial/misleading disclosure. I am doing this in my spare time, among many other thoughts I have. It is winter and rainy so I am stuck inside thinking . Thanks!
 
Oddo Dassler
Posts: 108
Location: Virginia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Steve Mendez wrote:For years I've carried a 24 page 3" X 4.5" waterproof paper notebook in my shirt pocket. I'm in Aquaculture and wet conditions are the norm. Even when it's soaking wet, I can write in it with a pencil or an all-weather pen.
I think of these notebooks as my indelible memory. I'm on my 7th one now. They have made a great difference in how I operate my farm and they have definitely helped me make money.
Riteintherain.com item # 971FX-M.
A simple book that got me started on a profitable small farm/business is:
Small-Time Operator...How to Start Your own Small Business, Keep your Books, Pay Your Taxes, And Stay Out of Trouble! By Bernard Kamoroff, C.P.A.
Another book that gave me inspiration is:
Farmers of Forty Centuries....Organic Farming in China, Korea, and Japan. By F.H. King
 



I have read the latter but not the former. Thanks!!
 
Posts: 72
Location: Leeds, United Kingdom
3
forest garden books food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

William Bronson wrote:
I used to find my self landing on a certain racial supremacy website because of my googling of back to the land type subjects...
Yet another reason to appreciate Permies.



Oh dear! Thank goodness for permies indeed.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
gardener
Posts: 912
Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
200
dog duck chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts pig bike bee solar ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John Opincar wrote:
P.P.S: Full disclosure -- my Mom's carport roof which serves as her water source was ripped up and tossed 300 feet away as a front moved through night before last and then I spent literally half the day yesterday harvesting and processing vegetables out of the garden before the 7th hard freeze of the season here last night.  Luckily, she has a lot of water in her tanks which are undamaged so I have some time to get it rebuilt.  But that's one more item on the already incredibly long todo list.



Oh Cr*p.  We have just finished our carport, looks like it may be a similar construction, and we are due a storm coming across from you guys.....
 
author & pollinator
Posts: 121
Location: Southeastern U.S.
38
goat cat forest garden foraging chicken food preservation medical herbs writing solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We started our journey with a basic dissatisfaction with the modern lifestyle. We observed people around us, many frantically trying to accumulate material wealth, yet none of them seemed truly happy. At that time we were homeschooling our kids and reading authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Ralph Moody, and Eric Sloane. In all of these books, people demonstrated a greater confidence in themselves and contentment with life than any modern person we knew. The common denominator was an agrarian way of life. That's when we decided to buy some land, simplify our lifestyle, and learn to rely more on ourselves. It was only after I started researching ways to do that, that I ran across terms like "homesteading" and found out about people like Sepp Holzer, Joel Salatin, Carla Emery, Paul Wheaton, etc. But it's not that we followed anyone because we believed them. They simply confirmed what we'd already observed for ourselves.
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Oddo Dassler wrote:"Who did you all believe before starting out?"



Lived on a farm as a youth.  Then ventured out as a young adult in the city world.  As time went on, living in the center of the city, high taxes and crony politics made us wonder IF this was the life.  Then in 1998, the Y2K issues of being self supportive and having the ability to live on our own surfaced.  It seemed as if there were those who would stick it out in the city, for us that didn't seem to be an option anymore.  Many in our group started to realize that rural life was the place to live.  Even during the depression era or the WW! or WW2 era, farms were the safe havens to be and raising a family.

Sure Y2K became a non-event for most of the world.  It did open our eyes to realize there was more to life than a career ladder, working late nights and burning out before 40.  

Hindsight, it was the smartest thing to do.  Raising our own food, gardening and livestock has given skill sets and health benefits over anything else one can find in a city.  
 
Posts: 33
Location: Iron River MI
3
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I’m very glad I found this post on here because I’ve been mentally battling similar concepts for months now. Glad I’m not alone!

“Quick” background: I’m 27 years old, live in upper Michigan and am married (no children yet). As a child, I was brainwashed into believing that debt was a part of this life and that if I wasn’t going to go to college, trade school was the ticket. College never interested me and so, instead of following my heart, I followed my brainwashed mind and advice given to me by generations past. Over the course of a couple years, I went from spending as much time in wilderness learning, exploring and experiencing new things to completing a trade school, moving, and starting a full time job at a utility company. I’ve been at this job for almost 6 years now, make excellent money and benefits compared to the majority of people that I know. I married my high school sweetheart (and her $50,000 student loan debt), took out $100,000 loan on a house and now have this seemingly massive debt hole nagging at me every day.

Due to chronic overthinking and worrying, I had a revelation (panic attack/breakdown/mental blowout) a few years ago that completely revolutionized my life. To sum it up, I realized we are all one, past and future do not exist, all we have is this present moment and we are here to embody love; nothing else matters.

This obviously clashed with my lifestyle in many ways. I had spent my life trying to be happy, doing what I was told, working for the future and was not enjoying it. I was tired, unhealthy and unhappy. After watching Food Inc, the Truth About Cancer and various documentaries and youtube videos, reading several books (Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway was probably the most profound and influential in my opinion), detoxing, correcting our diet and correcting nutritional deficiencies and digestive issues, I had a new found passion for life. I felt more alive than I knew possible, finally felt passionate about life and knew what I was here to do: spread love, teach others and be well. During my revelation (I feel this word fits the experience nicely), I had a vision of my wife and I in a luscious garden, surrounded by abundant food with smiles on our faces. I knew this was the ideal and that it was not only possible to create but felt like life was calling me to do it. I knew that if I was single, this would be quick and easy because I’m focused, easy to please and have low expectations. My wife likes to go places, spend money, do things and have fun. I knew that staying with her meant this process would be a lot slower and more difficult, but I willingly chose this path because I love her.

I used to think living sustainably meant needing lots of land, debt, machinery and back breaking work for little to no pay. I know now that sustainable is a direction, not an end point. Gaia’s Garden showed that people can and are making fantastic leaps in sustainability on tiny plots of land all over the world: A handful of raised beds in an inner city lot, rooftop and windowsill gardens, community gardens and orchards, school gardens and orchards. Many people are even able to have children, chickens, bees, a couple goats or sheep, large polyculture gardens, rain harvesting... all on an acre or two. This was what sparked me to buying a house/property. I wanted to create my vision, not only for my wife and I to be well and fulfilled, but to freely give knowledge, experience and good food!

Current situation: We took out a $90,000 loan on a 3 bedroom house with 2 1/2 acres to realize our dream. Half of the land is wooded and half is cleared with the house, garage and yard space. I spent the first year dreaming, drawing, planning, making gardens and putting up fencing. We have a loop driveway and I plan on filling the yard space with fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, chickens, vegetables, herbs, flowers, mushrooms and bees. I envision a short bus rolling in to drop off a handful of kids for a field trip where we experientially show them how to plant things, harvest things, eat things and teach them why this is important and how to do it without loads of money or land. To help them realize they can do so much with an acre or less by utilizing what resources are readily available. We have good soil and abundant resources, many of which are totally free and sustainable (wood, wood chips, leaves, sawdust, yard waste, water...).

My current struggle: My job is killing me. It is physically demanding, unsustainable, unsatisfying and leaves me feeling like I have no time to put towards realizing the dream. I’m away from home all day and when I get home its all catch up and compensation for being gone all day. I want to just live off faith, quit my job and get dirty actualizing my dream. If we lose it all, whatever, The dream will be the same somewhere else. My wife is not on the same page though, and so we’re trying to figure out how to pay bills, a mortgage and student loan debt without my current job. We’re quite seriously considering starting a fermented food business. Ive been fermenting for several years now, have some good products and have been told to start selling by many people. Plus there’s a niche for it and demand. Ideally, we would source organic produce as locally as possible and try to keep sales relatively local as well. We could do classes and workshops about fermentation as well. I could work from home and make my own hours. I even thought about taking in shredded paper and restaurant waste to start making and selling compost and also doing edible landscaping/sustainable garden design on the side for more income. This would be radically different than a biweekly paycheck! Part of me screams “do it” and another part says these are all just ways to make money for the sake of playing this damn game when I could just get down and dirty right now, laying it all on the line and living off faith alone. I know this is true, but would likely cost me my house, my credit, my marriage and my reputation. Sure, i could be a filthy, wandering, John the Baptist looking gardener but I doubt I would be as influential or happy as I would with my wife living from a relatively stable home teaching children and doing community programs in sustainability and whatnot. Call me impatient but I’m working on it. And sure, my generation is used to instant gratification, so feeling like I need to struggle for decades before things really seem to “come together” isn’t particularly appetizing, especially if my physical and mental health is being dedicated to working for profit while I’m in my prime. That leaves me with leftovers to put towards my passion at some future date that never seems to arrive. This body is meant to spread love and life, not grind out unnecessary mundane tasks for money and to be the fuel of a broken system.

I really feel like there are a good number of people in similar situations as this. So many people here are interested in gardening, wellness, and small farms but are stuck with large amounts of debt, a lack of encouragement and a lack of motivation. There seems to be a gap and I feel called to be the bridge over that gap. Sorry about rambling on. I don't have many opportunities to talk about these topics with like minded people in similar situations!
 
Oddo Dassler
Posts: 108
Location: Virginia
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Brody Ekberg wrote:I’m very glad I found this post on here because I’ve been mentally battling similar concepts for months now. Glad I’m not alone!

“Quick” background: I’m 27 years old, live in upper Michigan and am married (no children yet). As a child, I was brainwashed into believing that debt was a part of this life and that if I wasn’t going to go to college, trade school was the ticket. College never interested me and so, instead of following my heart, I followed my brainwashed mind and advice given to me by generations past. Over the course of a couple years, I went from spending as much time in wilderness learning, exploring and experiencing new things to completing a trade school, moving, and starting a full time job at a utility company. I’ve been at this job for almost 6 years now, make excellent money and benefits compared to the majority of people that I know. I married my high school sweetheart (and her $50,000 student loan debt), took out $100,000 loan on a house and now have this seemingly massive debt hole nagging at me every day.

Due to chronic overthinking and worrying, I had a revelation (panic attack/breakdown/mental blowout) a few years ago that completely revolutionized my life. To sum it up, I realized we are all one, past and future do not exist, all we have is this present moment and we are here to embody love; nothing else matters.

This obviously clashed with my lifestyle in many ways. I had spent my life trying to be happy, doing what I was told, working for the future and was not enjoying it. I was tired, unhealthy and unhappy. After watching Food Inc, the Truth About Cancer and various documentaries and youtube videos, reading several books (Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway was probably the most profound and influential in my opinion), detoxing, correcting our diet and correcting nutritional deficiencies and digestive issues, I had a new found passion for life. I felt more alive than I knew possible, finally felt passionate about life and knew what I was here to do: spread love, teach others and be well. During my revelation (I feel this word fits the experience nicely), I had a vision of my wife and I in a luscious garden, surrounded by abundant food with smiles on our faces. I knew this was the ideal and that it was not only possible to create but felt like life was calling me to do it. I knew that if I was single, this would be quick and easy because I’m focused, easy to please and have low expectations. My wife likes to go places, spend money, do things and have fun. I knew that staying with her meant this process would be a lot slower and more difficult, but I willingly chose this path because I love her.

I used to think living sustainably meant needing lots of land, debt, machinery and back breaking work for little to no pay. I know now that sustainable is a direction, not an end point. Gaia’s Garden showed that people can and are making fantastic leaps in sustainability on tiny plots of land all over the world: A handful of raised beds in an inner city lot, rooftop and windowsill gardens, community gardens and orchards, school gardens and orchards. Many people are even able to have children, chickens, bees, a couple goats or sheep, large polyculture gardens, rain harvesting... all on an acre or two. This was what sparked me to buying a house/property. I wanted to create my vision, not only for my wife and I to be well and fulfilled, but to freely give knowledge, experience and good food!

Current situation: We took out a $90,000 loan on a 3 bedroom house with 2 1/2 acres to realize our dream. Half of the land is wooded and half is cleared with the house, garage and yard space. I spent the first year dreaming, drawing, planning, making gardens and putting up fencing. We have a loop driveway and I plan on filling the yard space with fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, chickens, vegetables, herbs, flowers, mushrooms and bees. I envision a short bus rolling in to drop off a handful of kids for a field trip where we experientially show them how to plant things, harvest things, eat things and teach them why this is important and how to do it without loads of money or land. To help them realize they can do so much with an acre or less by utilizing what resources are readily available. We have good soil and abundant resources, many of which are totally free and sustainable (wood, wood chips, leaves, sawdust, yard waste, water...).

My current struggle: My job is killing me. It is physically demanding, unsustainable, unsatisfying and leaves me feeling like I have no time to put towards realizing the dream. I’m away from home all day and when I get home its all catch up and compensation for being gone all day. I want to just live off faith, quit my job and get dirty actualizing my dream. If we lose it all, whatever, The dream will be the same somewhere else. My wife is not on the same page though, and so we’re trying to figure out how to pay bills, a mortgage and student loan debt without my current job. We’re quite seriously considering starting a fermented food business. Ive been fermenting for several years now, have some good products and have been told to start selling by many people. Plus there’s a niche for it and demand. Ideally, we would source organic produce as locally as possible and try to keep sales relatively local as well. We could do classes and workshops about fermentation as well. I could work from home and make my own hours. I even thought about taking in shredded paper and restaurant waste to start making and selling compost and also doing edible landscaping/sustainable garden design on the side for more income. This would be radically different than a biweekly paycheck! Part of me screams “do it” and another part says these are all just ways to make money for the sake of playing this damn game when I could just get down and dirty right now, laying it all on the line and living off faith alone. I know this is true, but would likely cost me my house, my credit, my marriage and my reputation. Sure, i could be a filthy, wandering, John the Baptist looking gardener but I doubt I would be as influential or happy as I would with my wife living from a relatively stable home teaching children and doing community programs in sustainability and whatnot. Call me impatient but I’m working on it. And sure, my generation is used to instant gratification, so feeling like I need to struggle for decades before things really seem to “come together” isn’t particularly appetizing, especially if my physical and mental health is being dedicated to working for profit while I’m in my prime. That leaves me with leftovers to put towards my passion at some future date that never seems to arrive. This body is meant to spread love and life, not grind out unnecessary mundane tasks for money and to be the fuel of a broken system.

I really feel like there are a good number of people in similar situations as this. So many people here are interested in gardening, wellness, and small farms but are stuck with large amounts of debt, a lack of encouragement and a lack of motivation. There seems to be a gap and I feel called to be the bridge over that gap. Sorry about rambling on. I don't have many opportunities to talk about these topics with like minded people in similar situations!



Brody, glad you found my post. I am a software engineer but like you, I got fed up with my job so I quit it. However, before I did, we paid off all our debt except for the mortgage. My wife works 3 days a week as a veterinarian and this is enough to pay our mortgage and all our bills and maybe leave a couple hundred bucks on the side. It would leave more but we have spent the last two years on infrastructure on our farm. We have enough savings to pay our mortgage and all bills for about 12 months before we hit zero. That's it. This year is the first year I see our land paying some of the mortgage. I am focusing on our veggie farm and our bees and she is starting a flower farm on about 0.4 acres of land that we set aside for her.

One constraint many people run into with a farm is the necessity to make profit quick. This, in turn, ends up putting pressure on people to take shortcuts - such is capitalism. In United States we also have to think about health insurance, we cannot afford to pay for our own so we went with a christian health ministry "coverage". There is a lot of bad press about a lot of them but that's all we can afford. Anywhoo, back to the shortcuts - most farmers' outlook on land and crop and fertility is three months - between planting and harvest. This is why they use machinery, chemicals and artificial fertilizers. The job of a sustainable farmer is to extend this outlook to years, in my humble opinion. Tough job.

I think there is a lot of hype in the world of alternative farming. Someone tried to sell me coconut husks to spread over my fields the other day. I live in Virginia, they are sourced in Colombia. I was, like, huh? I attended Virginia Biological Farming conference the other day. Great people but there were a lot of vendors pushing all sorts of stuff like bokashi, kenkashi etc. etc. I am a traditional, pre-chemical ag farmer that came from a peasant country, to me all this stuff is yet another way to open a new market and separate people from their money. So, I stuck to what peasants did back in my country - light tillage and fallowing and of course cover cropping. Right now 50lbs of cereal rye sells for $29 and you need about 100 lbs ($60) per acre. I planted 4 acres of it ($240) and I intend to use it as straw for my vegetable plots. For $240 I grew ALL the mulch that I need, on my own property, no need for anything "alternative". Next year the rye field will be planted in something productive and my currently productive 4 acre field (winter wheat) will be cereal rye and clover (fallow). Winter wheat will also provide straw. We have two horses so they provide manure for our veggie plots as well and will for the flower farm as well. The bees pollinate etc. etc. You can focus on multiplying bees and selling them, a package runs about $150 and a nuc colony about $200 so good source of income. I catch swarms so free bees! ;) Honey is always a good seller. Right now I use an old tractor (I work on it myself when need be) but the plan is to switch to horse/draft team based farming to fully eliminate the dependence on the fuel industry.

We also have about 15 acres of woods - we use the wood for heat and a lot of fallen wood also goes to wood-chips for the gardens.

Why did I mention the rye straw above and the wood chips? Because one basic issue I see with a lot of market gardens etc. is lack of focus on growing your own fertility. People use plastic mulch (dependent on oil complex) but they also just buy truckloads of compost. This to me just means mining someone else's land for their fertility. Easy to talk about no-till and pooh-pooh the plow when you are using plastic mulches and buying compost from someone else.

The biggest issue I have run into is fighting weeds and maintaining fertility in a large scale no-till system. Being no-till on 1/2 acre veggie plots is easy (esp. if you are buying compost) but being no-till on 4-5 acre fields, totally different story, esp. if you do not want to or cannot afford to buy a roller-crimper, for example. So, tillage is what I do right now and no, I am not going to spread coconut husks on my fields and inoculate them with <put your own here>-kashi.

I guess my point is - there are a lot of people selling a lot of fog, from the basic going back to the land to the what to do on daily basis "alternative" lifestyles - which was really the basis of my post.

P.S. I work on all my equipment. I also do leatherwork and I make all my bee equipment, down to the frames. You can spend $150 on two bee boxes online or you can make your own for $30 from 3/4" plywood and some basic tools. To me, job #1 of every peasant is to be a generalist. A lot of people are going in the wrong direction, they are trying to run their farms as specialized as possible. Specialization is what killed normal life for most people. Ask Wendell Berry if you don't believe me haha
 
pollinator
Posts: 192
36
solar wood heat
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Oddo Dassler,

I didn't believe anyone, I saw it when my parents took an all alkaline clay property and turned it into black soil. I saw many other things too, to many to list here.
But what book did I read first?  I dunno, I read the first 100 issues of Mother Earth News as they were printed and sent out  -that was a very fine education. However, Bill Mollison's "Permaculture Design Manual" and the Geoffery Lawton's "greening the desert" youtube solidified my realization things can REALLY be done differently and successfully on a large scale in a way that gives us a happy Earth for humans not some crazed maniacal planet bent on the death of every living being.

I DON'T care one wit about farming.
I DO care about a food forest where in I can go and get food when I'm hungry and probably store enough for winter.

I have no intention of working from sun up to sun down trying to farm and breaking my back, oh hell no!  

That's why there's permaculture: create the systems that feed each other and you....do hard work during harvest time and pruning time.... but only do a little maintenance here and there once in a while ......farming??!!? forget about it!

That's why I'm so insistent on convection flow only, no fans and no maintenance; why I'm so insistent water should flow off my roof right into my high wall water storage pipe right into my kitchen tap, shower and solar hot water; why I'm so insistent that my composting toilet sits on top of the three stanchion rotation bins (I empty my toilet once a year with a front end loader-none of this 5 gallon bucket shit); etc, etc

I don't want to work from sun up to sundown and pass that drudgery to others when I die, hell no!

so back to the land means something very different to you than it means to me. If you like farming and you like working from sun up to sundown, okay, everyone has their preferences, but for me, I'll use permaculture to get the abundant energy, incredibly resilient and very determined plant life to provide a very nice life for me so I can visit you after sunset one day.
 
This is my favorite show. And this is my favorite tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!