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Aging in place with permaculture  RSS feed

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I'm personally interested in aging in place here on the land, and have no intention of selling and moving at any time. My husband and I are middle-aged, reasonably active but with some health problems that might get worse with age - mostly achey pains. I'm trying to think ahead to when we're older and even creakier, and want to try to work toward a design which will accommodate limited mobility. What permaculture design ideas should I keep in mind and begin to implement which would be most helpful to aging in place? Rather than ask for specific design advice about our place at the beginning of this topic, I'd like to keep the ideas general and widely applicable at first. Maybe later in the thread I can ask for specific advice about my own design?

 
Tracy Wandling
steward
Posts: 1650
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
320
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This is freakishly good timing for this conversation, for me. I was just ruminating on the fact that I turn 51 in 6 days (The Man turns 51 in 11 days), and although we are both relatively healthy, (but with the same achey pains, that ain't goin' away anytime soon ) we are looking toward the future as well. And like you, we have no intention of leaving our property. They'll be carrying me off in a pine box, so to speak.

The Man is always looking toward our future and 'retirement' through the lens of 'money'. I am always looking at it through the lens of simplifying our lives, shortening the list of wants/needs, and being able to provide for ourselves as much as possible. We are heading in the same general direction, but by very different roads. I know I can always grow food to sustain us, but I also know that I'm never going to make 'heaps' of money. That has never been my goal, I have few possessions, and am just not that interested in working my butt off just to make gobs of money. (Now, if it were just handed to me, I wouldn't turn it down, don't get me wrong. )

I imagine many of us are in the same boat, and am looking forward to the conversation and sharing of ideas. I will cogitate on this today, and see what I can offer to the conversation.

Thanks for starting this.

Cheers
Tracy
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
Posts: 203
Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
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I'm another interested in this thread as it is one of the considerations I keep in mind. I was born with hip dysplasia and a birth defect in my knees so I only have about 5 years before the doc says I will start getting arthritis. I am hoping to stave that off with good nutrition while planning for the worst case scenario.

A couple things that come to mind are 1) wide mulched paths and 2) hugelkultur beds sepp holzer style. The wide paths allow access for various mobility aids and the steep sides of the hugelkultur beds allow for less bending over. Neither are perfect solutions since the paths would need the mulch renewed and the beds will sink as the wood becomes soil.
 
Waldo Schafli
Posts: 28
Location: Western Cape - South Africa
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A good question for a growing concern & one that designers could be facing more often in the coming years. Many of our friends who are willing & 'have the time to garden' are 50+ retirees. Many of them with ailments that hinder gardening. We are friends with a few sprightly 70-90 year old characters. Their enthusiasm to learn & cultivate is wonderfully inspiring.

The main culprit we have encountered is bending over to garden. Long handle, light head cultivation tools. Keeps the back straight & doesn't tire you out as fast.

Raised/Hugel beds & the tightest Zone 1 imaginable. We've seen apple crates & landscapers fabric used to raise 1.2mx1.2m beds to hip height. Stacking logs or adding any biomass underneath the frames should help with soil temps & evaporation. Mounting old gutters against walls is the tight Zone 1. Make plants accessible, looks pretty nifty, has nifty runoff control options. If managed well you can grow creepers from the bottom to the top rooting them every step. Adding worms to this design is, to me personally, essential. Building the soil in such small quarters calls for small builders.

I am not going to expand on Hugels as there are numerous threads that explain their use as an appropriate technology. (note the capital)

A rather far off thought might be to cultivate shade tolernant veggies etc for an indoor area.

If your site allows it, I think the best solution would be the attached greenhouse ala David Holmgren.

An observation - staying active both mentally & physically as you age keeps you healthier for longer. Stagnating as you age makes you old before your time.

Last solution for now.

Become engrained in your community.
 
alex Keenan
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My grandmother lived on her homestead until she died in her 90's.
She rests next to her husband on the land today.
The key was my aunts children who lived near to her.
In the later years one of them move on to the homestead. They built there home next to hers.
I think having family close by is one way to age in place.
I am hitting 56 this year and I know how much help my children have been in keeping up with everything.
So for me family is how I will age in place.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I'll need to acquire a family somehow...

 
Sue Dunn
Posts: 3
Location: Gabriola Island , BC.
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This is a topic that has been on my mind a lot.My husband and I are 56 and we have our own Landscaping business . We want to retire sooner than later.I also think that reducing the amount of money that we need to live is how to retire sooner. We have been developing our property with ageing in place as our goal.
Single story house , no stairs. Easier to reach gutters for cleaning { we harvest rain water}
Food garden closest to back deck , with some raised beds. I find less weeding and maintenance for raised beds .
Fruit trees pruned short /or espalier to reduce having to use a ladder when we age.
We chose a property close to our small village centre {walking distance}
Getting to know our land and what varieties of plants are most productive here , refining our bed rotation and seeding schedule to maximise success .Less screwing around when we are old , just keep efficientcies and what works for us.
 
alex Keenan
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There is alot of good information on modifications that can be made to a home to make it easier for elderly people.
One could look at activities that one does now and evaluate the physical aspects.
Bending over is one such factor, so raised beds, containers, etc. become something to consider.
Tools that you may not use now can be another factor. I just planted a bunch of canna lily using a grabbing arm that I pick up trash with. I cleaned and separated my canna lily tubers into a five gallon bucket. Then I used the tool to place each one in a wet spot where no grass will grow. Once placed I filled a pull cart with old hay and used this to much the canna lily.
Another factor is stairs. When my wife had a stroke we put rails on both sides of the stairs so she could use both arms for balance.

I tend to start with what daily activities are required and evaluate different ways they can be done. The Internet is a great help in looking at different alternatives related to Tools and Techniques on how to do said activity. If you try hard you can likely find a way to do what needed to be done, or find help in doing what needs to be done.
In some cases what needs to be done, really did not need to be done, so you stop doing it. Like having all those annual plants that look so nice but require alot of work.
You can only do so much so you have to prioritize what gets done.

I still allocate 10% of my time to screwing around with new ideas
 
Sunny Baba
Posts: 69
Location: Northern New Mexico, 7600'elevation, 24" precip
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Hi Everyone..... very practical topic... Because time and gravity and the brakedown, wearing out of our vehicles (bodies) Does take place....... I am 72 and my wife is 53...... we have been homesteading and growing most of our food, for most of our adult lives.... Sure, having family near by or on your land... would be the natural way of doing it ...in the past...... Now-a-days though... we all move, marry and wander away from our parents... for many different reasons... So.... if you own your own property.... and you need help maintaining your home place... gardens, orchard, animals etc... why not start sharing this Now, with some young people who don't have the means to own their own land... it is simply sharing what you have with others of LIKE MIND, LIKE HEART and LIKE INTERESTS, ( such as gardening and permaculture, homesteading, being self-sufficient, living simply on the land, etc.).....
I think that if we care for others, and give to them, and share with them what we have.... in other words ..Love them up, as if they were our own... then it all comes back full circle.... when we are in need of help.....
Of course this requires a lot of Faith and Trust.... and DISCERNMENT in picking your 'land partners....' We just built another (8 so far) complete Homestead from bare ground up... these past 3 years... on someone else's land.... and now... because of the Harsh growing season, (90days)..... and lots of summer hail storms... we are thinking of moving to a more gentle climate... hoping to find folks to share their land with us.
Of course if you have a lot of extra money.. as you got older .. you could hire someone to care for your place (maintenance), cut your fire wood, and garden for you.... But if you don't have the $$$ .. then share and teach, and help each other out...... that is what we are counting on........
 
Tracy Wandling
steward
Posts: 1650
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
320
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One of the things I’ve been thinking about regarding future harvesting when I’m old and rickety, is pruning fruit and nut trees now so they have low branches that extend out instead of up. I suppose espaliered trees would fit the bill here. (I see that’s been mentioned.) Keeping them at a reachable height, even from perhaps a wheelchair. Grapes, fruit and nut trees, and some berries would probably work well with this technique.

The retro-fit of the house is obvious - all of that has been worked out pretty well by now. Lots of things that can be done there. Unfortunately, our hand-built house is rather odd, and has steps up and down into various rooms, so I’m seeing some ramps or little tiny elevators in our future. lol

I’m most concerned with food. I just keep seeing that ruth stout video, where she’s just kinda flingin’ seeds and mulch around, and knowing that at least something is going to grow. I can see myself doing that. Plant lots, and harvest what grows.

I think my big push right now will be getting as many perennials into the ground, as quick as I can - trees, berries, veggies, whatever is perennial and grows well here. I can experiment with lots of other things, but getting those ‘sure things’ into the ground is my main priority. Lemons and avocados are a little further down the list. (Hey, ya never know!)

The other big push will be setting up the water harvesting systems, and drought proofing the property. Very important. I don’t want to be sitting on a desert in my old age, unable to grow anything. I think it’s vital. We do have a well, and there is a lake within walking distance, but still . . .

Raised keyhole beds would be good - table height. I can just totter up with my walker - maybe have a rotating chair in the keyhole so I can sit there and swivel around to garden. Or just sit there and spin around 'til I'm dizzy. Wheeeee!

Chickens would probably be the easiest animal to keep - making sure egg collection and feeding systems are easy and semi-automatic. Setting the coop up off the ground, with a wire mesh floor so that waste falls through and doesn’t build up in the coop. I’ve seen that somewhere. I’ll have to ponder that one. Cleaning up the chicken bedding will have to be easy . . . maybe have the ground under the coop slope away, so that the chickens can get under there and scratch all of that stuff down hill, and let it collect is a compost pile at the bottom of the yard. So many possibilities.

I think that those without family nearby need to really cultivate connections within their community. I have kids, and they really quite like me, but who knows if they’ll want to move here and take care of their ol’ Ma? It’s a little too isolated for a lot of people. But luckily the Cortesians are a very community minded bunch, so we’ll have some sort of support system.

Having a lot of perennial food growing on the place might be a good trading point as well. Get someone who wants to harvest fruit or nuts, or whatever, to come and do some work in exchange for the harvest. That might work for some people in some areas. I think it would work well here.

And I really like the idea of aging farmers/gardeners/whatever, that have land that they can’t work themselves anymore, being matched up with younger people eager to get their hands dirty and try farming. (I see this has also been mentioned.) Of course, the potential for things to go terribly wrong is always present. But then again, things could go terribly right. That’s a tricky one. I know I’d do it, but I don’t think The Man would go for it.

That’s all I can think of right now, but it’s a great topic, and I’m definitely going to be keeping it in mind as we work on our system. I’m off to do dishes - definitely going to get a dishwasher when I’m old! (I hate doing dishes.)

Cheers
Tracy
 
Druce Batstone
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Another top topic from Tyler.

I am 73 and 4 years into developing a 2 acre, hilly block in sub-tropical environment. So far (early days), my strategy is to plant perennials (vegetables and fruits) and mulch, mulch, mulch (no slug problems so far, thankfully).

My wish list includes a powered wheelbarrow and steps as short cuts down steeper slopes (to avoid slipping. sliding falls).
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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If your homestead is in farming country, a possible source for assistance is the local 4-H, or FFA kids.
They should have a fair work ethic, and some country skills - not like the urban youth.

I know an elderly couple who have been using these kids for several years.
One year, the payment was a weaner pig that the kid raised for a FFA project.



 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Great ideas everyone. I'm glad folks are enjoying this topic.

 
Tracy Wandling
steward
Posts: 1650
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
320
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It appears to be very timely. Here's another great idea:

I crack me up . . .

When-I-m-old.png
[Thumbnail for When-I-m-old.png]
Just in case . . .
 
Tracy Wandling
steward
Posts: 1650
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
320
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But don't think I take this subject lightly, because of my previous post! I am inherently silly, and find that even the most serious topics are a lot easier to handle with a little humor thrown in.

Another thing I was thinking about was growing medicinals. I know not everyone 'believes' in them, and some find the topic a little bit 'woo woo' (love that description), but really, there are lots of plants that are proven to be very helpful to our health. So, I will definitely be growing medicinals in my gardens. It certainly can't hurt, and it might just be a life-saver one day.

Off to research medicinals that grow in my area . . .
 
Laura Johnson
Posts: 38
Location: Georgia, USA
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Well, this is my topic! I have had a garden for years. Then, I got old. Age 74, with arthritis in my hands. Can't stand the idea of not having my garden. So - I completely re-designed everything. I planned to do it with my handy shovel and garden cart. I am really pretty fit from gardening all these many years. I wanted to become a "hunter gather" in my own garden. My goal was to have everything done by age 75. Almost finished. I have Huglkultur raised beds. Two concrete blocks high. I can sit on the edge and plant and harvest. No more fieldhand work of digging and bending over. There is also a new Food Forest with fruit trees pruned to stay about 6'. Chickens run around and fertilize and eat bugs and do some weeding. Lots of perennial plants. Beneifical insect plants. Lots of MULCH. And cart wide paths that catch and soak rain. Paths are carpeted with discarded carpet. Great weed barrier! I have done the majority of it by myself over the last year. Got some help with moving the concrete blocks and fence poles.

I tried to chronical the journey to a Permaculture "senior garden" on a fledging blog. Might give you young people some ideas. 😊
www.steps2permaculture.com
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I'm personally interested in aging in place here on the land, and have no intention of selling and moving at any time. My husband and I are middle-aged, reasonably active but with some health problems that might get worse with age - mostly achey pains. I'm trying to think ahead to when we're older and even creakier, and want to try to work toward a design which will accommodate limited mobility. What permaculture design ideas should I keep in mind and begin to implement which would be most helpful to aging in place? Rather than ask for specific design advice about our place at the beginning of this topic, I'd like to keep the ideas general and widely applicable at first. Maybe later in the thread I can ask for specific advice about my own design?



You have, from what I have read of your posts here, a good knowledge of the permaculture aspect.

What you need is a healers knowledge and to learn the medicine way.

It is fine and dandy to Want to Stay somewhere, it is another thing to be able to do so.
You already mention creaks and groans and moans. If you can not address these so they are no longer truly problematic, you will not be able to fulfill your dream.
Obvious things like One Story House with only a couple of steps to climb, easy access to all parts of your gardens, orchards, vineyards, etc. are well within your current skill set to address and remedy.

I would suggest learning herbalism, as much of it as you can possibly adsorb along with a well filled out library of reference books to fall back upon as needed.
Identify the gaps in your knowledge and do all you can to fill those gaps, it will allow you to fulfill your dream.
(This is probably the hardest part for most folks, the issue is ego getting in the way, most do not want to admit they have shortcomings in anything) I believe you are sentient enough to be able to do this.

Make a list of everything you already know, things you need to know, and things you want to know in addition to the needs list. Doing this will set you on the path to fulfilling your dream of never leaving your land.

Good luck Kola, You know how to reach me if you need me.

Redhawk
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 2711
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Tracy Wandling wrote:But don't think I take this subject lightly, because of my previous post! I am inherently silly, and find that even the most serious topics are a lot easier to handle with a little humor thrown in.

Another thing I was thinking about was growing medicinals. I know not everyone 'believes' in them, and some find the topic a little bit 'woo woo' (love that description), but really, there are lots of plants that are proven to be very helpful to our health. So, I will definitely be growing medicinals in my gardens. It certainly can't hurt, and it might just be a life-saver one day.

Off to research medicinals that grow in my area . . .


I love your thought process.
Herbalism has only been practiced for around 50 thousand years and documented for 10 thousand years.
It would not have survived if it didn't work most of the time.
I am one of these for my people, do not ask what my position is in my nation for that is never spoken.
If one ask for help, they receive it, there is no "fee" or charge of money.
The mind, spirit and body are so connected that one can not separate any one portion and expect a real and complete cure.

I like this thought;
"When you feel the world closing in around you and nothing you know of seems to help the situation, come, sit in the earth mother's lap, let her nurture you through your contact with her skin, drink in her spirit with your eyes, smell her perfumes and listen to her children's voices in the night.
In the morning feel her warm love wash over you and bathe in the light of the sun, soon you will know you are healed." Luta ceta

Redhawk
 
Rick Valley
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Well. I'll be 65 soon; so far in my life every plan I've made has shipwrecked one way or another. By rights I should not have made it this far; I've been swamped at sea, done a forward 360 airborne on a bicycle after being run off the trans Canada by a double-wide, been stuck underwater in the lee of a monster boulder in a rapid, been held at gunpoint... I could go on... Last year I was reduced to gardening on all fours because of pain from 2 hernias... I took care of my second wife thru her passage out with lung cancer; now I'm in the most amazing relationship I've ever been in, with a little Jewish grandma who'll turn 70 next year; she's a double cancer survivor due to being a DES baby. I hope to make enough money this year to get back to Ecuador on a permaculture project and take a side trip to find a shaman who is a recognized ayahuasca guide; maybe that will show me a trail to follow.
So I figure anything I plan isn't going to make much difference. Judging from my family history, the money is on dementia of some sort as my end, as did one of my younger brothers a few months ago (Parkinson's with associated dementia) Fortunately Oregon went legal Cannabis last year and if it comes down to it, I won't care. I can only hope to continue to be such a bad example that some younger ones want to hang around with me and keep passing me brownies or whatever
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 2711
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I didn't mention this in my previous post but in September I turn 65, we have been living on our new farm for a year now (this week even) and still there is so much to do.

We went into this adventure with the idea of dying here, so everything is being built with old age (80's) in mind.
You have to think like an ancestor to get it all correct, at least that's been my experience so far.

Raised beds are our friend, dwarf fruit trees and small hogs that won't knock us around or down, chickens, ducks, guinea hens, geese, are the animals we have focused on for food.
I hunt with a compound bow but I still have my sniper rifle for things like deer when I can no longer draw my bow with enough draw weight to be legal, hunt wise.
We love to fish too, so there is always that option for us both for food and relaxation.

So far all is working out pretty well except for the hiccups that wakantanka keeps throwing our way to test our resolve.
I am hoping he will soon decide we are sincere in our goals.
 
Nicole Alderman
gardener
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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My grandparents are in their late 80's (Grandpa turns 90 this year!) and they still live at the same house and tend the same garden that they have had for 60 years. I've watched them make changes, though, such as changing out their wheelbarrow for a lighter one (we got their old wheelbarrow).

They also have flat gravel/paved/mulched paths, to minimize tripping. Most of their plants are perennials, and the ground is covered by ground covers, so there's less maintenance. Their house is one story, so it's easier to navigate. They cut down and minimized the tall trees, because getting up on a ladder is a bad idea when you're 90 (Grandpa fell off his ladder when trimming vines a few years back.). Grandma wishes that she had made more raised beds, and had done so sooner.

Speaking of raised beds, I very much agree with having them! I've purposefully made most of mine at sitting height, and I wish I made them a little narrower. It's great being able to sit down to weed and plant. My keyhole garden is great, too, as I made it sitting height. It's great being able to have places to easily sit and take breaks! (I'm pregnant with really loose joints, so I need lots of breaks). To make the keyhole more accessible, I probably should have made it at least walker width, but it honestly wasn't something I was thinking of when making the mound. When I make my hugels, I also use at least a few logs standing upright and bare of the earth so I have somewhere to sit. Having places to sit easily throughout the property, with some preferably in the shade, would also be great, even if it's just a stump or log standing on it's round side. I often find myself overheating and having nowhere to easily sit down to rest and cool off.

My parents are in their early 60s, and I'm also watching them prepare for old age. Their fruit trees are espalier and they're transferring their bedroom to downstairs.

I have a feeling that, as we age, we just have to be okay with more and more areas of our property and homes turning into zones 4 & 5. I plan on living on my property for the rest of my life, and I'm sure that I eventually will rarely be able to make it up to the top of my property, or walk through the uneven woods. And, that's okay. Those just become places for the animals. I will just likely focus on the acre around my house, and perhaps maintaining some of the easier trails.
 
Irene Bensinger
Posts: 3
Location: Near Mt. Rainier, WA
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I'll need to acquire a family somehow...



Same goes for us, aged 77 and 79. But how??
 
Josephine Howland
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Location: White Mountains of New Hampshire zone 5
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I am 58, my husband is only53, but he went on oxygen about 2 years ago. He has a collapsed lung, collapsed trachea, and a paralyzed diaphragm. He can't be near chickens or farm animals anymore, so we gave away our chickens. The last two years have been tough for us, but this year, we're still planting a garden and some fruit tree guilds. The long term prognosis for my husband isn't good, but keeping active is certainly better than not. So we continue to do what we can as long as we can. I am hoping to start some hugelculture beds as well as keyhole gardens to ease the bending. We move chairs around to sit and rest when needed. My mother is 88, so there is a chance, that I will be here for quite a while, and hope to enjoy it as long as I can.
 
Rick Valley
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Here's a more grounded posting I have 2 children, but the one who still talks to me left the state, my nephew and nieces are scattered all over and commencing careers that will have them careening about the world. So my partner and I are learning how to attract younger people to our places. My partner has 3 kids, one in-county, the one most sympatica to my taste is in the Bay area. Appreciating younger people and giving them room to grow is a major piece of the puzzle. But then I have always had friends of many ages.
 
Tracy Wandling
steward
Posts: 1650
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:

I love your thought process.
Herbalism has only been practiced for around 50 thousand years and documented for 10 thousand years.
It would not have survived if it didn't work most of the time.
I am one of these for my people, do not ask what my position is in my nation for that is never spoken.
If one ask for help, they receive it, there is no "fee" or charge of money.
The mind, spirit and body are so connected that one can not separate any one portion and expect a real and complete cure.

I like this thought;
"When you feel the world closing in around you and nothing you know of seems to help the situation, come, sit in the earth mother's lap, let her nurture you through your contact with her skin, drink in her spirit with your eyes, smell her perfumes and listen to her children's voices in the night.
In the morning feel her warm love wash over you and bathe in the light of the sun, soon you will know you are healed." Luta ceta

Redhawk


Thanks, Bryant; Yes, medicinal plants abound, as does the wisdom to use them if we look and listen carefully. And I do believe that just being in contact with the soil and growing things can have amazing affects on our physical health, and mental and spiritual well being. Working in the garden is a total meditation for me, and I come out of it feeling much more open and relaxed. It just feels good.

I am eager to learn more about medicinal plants and how to use them (just picked up an older herbal at the Free Store), and grateful that I live in a place where this lore is accepted and gladly shared.

I'll "go gentle into that good night", but I want to live healthy and strong as long as I can until that day comes. Got lots to do!

Cheers
Tracy
 
Devin Lavign
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Starry Hilder just recently posted this video suggesting the BTE wood chip mulch method to make gardening easier for when you are aging.
(she has been promoting and enamored with this method since she installed it at her place)



I think there are a lot of things one could set up similarly. Raised beds that are tall enough that you don't have to bend over. Hugles would be another decent idea. Pretty much anything Paul claims he does because he lazy would be worth looking at. The big thing I think though is make sure you set these things up early enough that you still have some ability to set them up and refine them before your body betrays you and doesn't let you do the work you used to be able to do.
 
Hans Quistorff
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I am 76 now. When we inherited the farm which allowed my mother and sister to age in place the old farm house burned down. We replaced it with a double wide and had a porch deck installed on both sides with ramps instead of steps. Some of my therapy clients come with wheel chairs or walkers so this is practical for them and us as we age.

My brother-in-law worked the area dump and accumulated a lot of things for future projects. one of them was cement culvert sections that did not get the second lip poured so they could not be fit together. I used them to make planters along a bank. So they hold the 4 foot drop but have a key hole between them so I can step in between to reach the back side to pick strawberries. I can walk along the level ground that is even with the top and water with my watering wand.

Most of my vegetables are in wicking barrels so they are waist high and some knee high. I have hand trucks that I can move them around so that they can winter in the greenhouse which is zone 1.5 and then parked along the porch deck which makes them zone 0.5. Half of the berries, the peaches and the wintering spot for some of the barrels are in the high tunnels which i consider Zone 2. These have carpeted pathes which was mentioned above. 2.5 Is the carpet garden where the pumpkins grow with some corn and kale.and the chicken tractors move around. I will post the Google Earth picture which is slightly out of date more of the fenced area below the hoop houses is now carpet garden. The small white rectangles are the chicken tractors.
2-acre-field.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2-acre-field.jpg]
The right side is my zone 1 & 2
snap-dragons.JPG
[Thumbnail for snap-dragons.JPG]
Some of the wicking planters along the deck
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Sunny Baba wrote:... So.... if you own your own property.... and you need help maintaining your home place... gardens, orchard, animals etc... why not start sharing this Now, with some young people who don't have the means to own their own land... it is simply sharing what you have with others of LIKE MIND, LIKE HEART and LIKE INTERESTS, ( such as gardening and permaculture, homesteading, being self-sufficient, living simply on the land, etc.).....
I think that if we care for others, and give to them, and share with them what we have.... in other words ..Love them up, as if they were our own... then it all comes back full circle.... when we are in need of help.....
Of course this requires a lot of Faith and Trust.... and DISCERNMENT in picking your 'land partners....' We just built another (8 so far) complete Homestead from bare ground up... these past 3 years... on someone else's land.... and now... because of the Harsh growing season, (90days)..... and lots of summer hail storms... we are thinking of moving to a more gentle climate... hoping to find folks to share their land with us.
Of course if you have a lot of extra money.. as you got older .. you could hire someone to care for your place (maintenance), cut your fire wood, and garden for you.... But if you don't have the $$$ .. then share and teach, and help each other out...... that is what we are counting on........

Sunny, I don't own any land (I garden in the front and back yard of this rented ground-floor apartment). Maybe I could follow your advice ... the other way round: find a young family with land, large enough to provide the needed food for their family and me. Now I can still help them, I am in good health and shape. If I am like my mother I can go on gardening until I am over 80 (I am 60 now). But one never knows ... If am not able to do hard fysical labour anymore, I can still do something to help that family: making and mending the clothes, helping in the kitchen, baby-sitting and later on teaching the children, etc.
 
Susan Taylor Brown
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Tyler, what a terrific topic. Thanks for getting this conversation started. I am going to be 58 next month. We moved from a tiny lot with a large two story house in a busy city to a single story, smaller house on half an acre in the country. Our goal was to find our forever home as a fixer upper and fix it, and the land, up to age in place. I didn't know about permaculture when we went looking (I might have tried for more land) but I did look with the idea of aging in place and now, the more I learn of permaculture, the more I think we nailed the spot for us. Right now the property is on two levels, the house and deck up on the flat and the future wildlife garden and food forest, down below. There are three ways to access the lower property - one, the steep steps going down right from the house. None of us, not even the dog, want to use those stairs but we do, very carefully. I can see an elevator there in the future. At the other end of the deck there were stairs going down to the yard but I have had most of them taken out and had the slope smoothed out to a more gradual one with a thought toward walkers and wheelchairs. The first few steps can easily be removed when the time comes. I have plans for a railing that will go down that side as well. We also have a big gate street side to the lower property so I could picture getting a little scooter to drive down to that gate and then around the yard.

The house needs everything which means as we fix a room, we can fix it with the idea of aging in place. The new shower has the blocking in place for grab bars, that sort of thing. In the garden I am doing a lot of raised beds because even though I am mostly okay now, I have bad knees and a bum shoulder so I appreciate not having to bend over as much. I am not supposed to squat. hahaha...like that's going to happen. We are terracing the slopes in the back yard so that I can have easy access to them. The front slope, well I have decided that is a wild zone. It is too steep to do much to and I attended a class once where the teacher was encouraging people to put their design energy into the parts of the yard you would see all the time. He said the front yard was just a postcard to the neighborhood. If the deer won't let the manzanitas and other things grow there I will just start tossing all my blackberry canes on the slope and let the berries duke it out with the deer and the gophers.

I do wish we had started on this type of garden adventure when we were younger. I don't know that I will get to enjoy nuts if I plant them now, but I will plant what I can while I can while, at the same time, planting for wildlife habitat. Over time I imagine the lower yard will become my wild zone as I will give more and more of it over to nature. The good thing about this is that we can view it all from the deck and upper yard so it is like an observation deck. Instead of trying to look up and see what is going on in the oak trees I can look right out, eye high, into the branches.

I don't have chickens yet. It will be a while I think. But I saw a coop idea that I think will work for me - building the coop onto the side of deck so I can walk into it, deck high and the litter/compost can be swept out of the coop and down the slope. This would also help with compost so I could easily feed everything to the chickens. Right now I have little compost pockets all over the lower yard, trying to revive the dirt, but that will get harder to do as I age.

Right now I am trying to get all the hardscapes in place and there is a lot of rainwater diverting to be done for those rare times we get rain. I have two raised beds with plans for more.

I love the idea of sharing labor and land. We have a neighborhood mailing list and there is a gal who loves to can. She offers to come pick your fruit and then she brings you back some of it once she has canned it.

Our front yard isn't very big but it is full sun and is perfect for my herb garden. I should be able to stack other edibles into this space as well once we fence it off from the deer and bunnies and other critters. The back deck is huge and I have some large half barrel planters there now. I could continue to garden in containers but that doesn't allow me to use swales and rainwater, etc, the way I want to. I think it likely that over time, as the tired deck begs to be replaced, we will reduce its footprint so there can be a larger, one level planting surface.

We have a grey water system that is ready to be installed (as soon as the plumber has time for us) so that should take care of a lot of the water needs. I am also putting in a lot of hose bibs so I can have access to water wherever I might need it throughout the yard without trying to drag 100 feet of heavy hose all over the place.

I look forward to more discussion on this topic.
 
Laura Johnson
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Location: Georgia, USA
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If you live long enough - you get old! 😊 Plan for it. Don't create TOO MANY garden areas - too hard to keep up. Mulch, perennial plants, raised beds and ground cover are your friend! Advice from a 74 year woman old that is still gardening.
 
Tyler Ludens
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All great things to think about. Our forever house is two storeys, and rather high off the ground, so we will need to make some modifications for old age. These will almost certainly be cheaper than starting over somewhere else with a one storey house.
 
Jeanne Wallace
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Location: Cache Valley, Northern Utah (zone 6a, 4,900 elevation)
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Awesome topic: we're 52 and 61 and have been planning for future for a while. We've incorporated use of many strategies cited above.
We had the (now-recognized) GIFT OF INJURIES over the past 2 yrs (rotator cuff shoulder injury, torn ACL, and herniated discs in lower back).
This gave us a chance to see how our plans for remaining sustainable as we age might work. Here's what we did/learned:

• We shifted our eating patterns toward perennials and didn't bother with an annual garden (instead of tomatoes, we made BBQ sauce, salsa and such with lycopene berries (autumnberry), nanking cherries, elderberries, hawthorn, and plums). Instead of peppers, we made hot sauce with perennial arugula/rocket. We were grateful for salads gleaned from trees coppiced to keep harvests at chest level.
• We foraged on our own property: We expanded our knowledge of wild edibles and found many of our vegetables needs could be satisfied with "weeds" growing right outside the door. It's been a year of eating dock, salsify, nettles, purslane, lambsquarters, dead nettle, arrowleaf balsamroot, mallows, and milkweed. We now collect seed of these "former weeds" and broadcast wherever there's been disturbed soil on our site.
• We attached a berry-rake to a long handle to reach to harvest items without bending or straining shoulders upward.
• Traded pick-yer-own fruit (our 1-acre food forest has 75+ varieties of fruits, berries, nuts) for raw milk, meat, fish (trout), bones for broth, cheese, and other goods from local artisans. (reduced our expenses further)
• We didn't prune or thin fruits one year. The next we offered a "pruning class," put tools in the students hands and walked them through what to do.
• We grazed (walking around and eating what we could reach) more than harvesting and preparing full sit-down meals. Wow: that frees up a lot of time, and nothing is fresher than food you eat before it needs to travel to the house.
• Rather than canning (too much standing!), we dried fruits in the solar dehydrator.
• We were thankful for our many high berms (hugels) and terraces. The "retaining walls" for our terraces incorporate benches, so we can sit and harvest.
• We've been offering 2 internship spots each season (Apr-Nov) and get enthusiastic able-bodied young persons to assist us in exchange for a share of produce/fruit/eggs and mentoring. Having INTERNS was invaluable!
• We offered tours of our site and got more of the community involved in what we are doing. This summer, we're offering classes. Great way to give the gift of skills and gain the assistance of many hands (and backs!)
• We saw the immense value in systems we had set up for low input, limited mobility or STUN. Things like poultry watering nipples off a 5 gallon bucket filled via rainwater harvest from the coop roof, trestle feeder, light-sensor coop door, eggs box at chest level...these really pay off.
• Our home has a city-permitted attached apartment we can rent out to students (local ag university within 2 mi). Extra income is wonderful (highly recommend others consider this!) We considered that it might be an option to offer this apartment in exchange for assistance when we need it (e.g., a caretaker).
• We asked for help (probably the hardest thing to do!!) and were stunned by all the support we received.
• We traded nutrition/herbal consults for heavy lifting!
• We slowed down and discovered how much nature provided for us...without our drive to always be GSD (doing stuff!!!). This was so eye opening. We accepted the gifts that came instead of exerting effort to obtain others. Yes, when life gives you milkweed, you make garlic roasted milkweed spring shoots, curried milkweed bud brocollinis, greek stuffed milkweed pods...

It's been an incredible eye-opening year. I agree with Mae West: "getting old is not for sissies!" We provided our own health care [my career is in integrative medicine (nutrition, herbalism, lifestyle medicine]. We're happy to report: INJURIES HEALED! and we are back to our active selves and blessed to have had a chance gain some eye-opening perspective.

BTW: superior nutrition and activity CAN slow the aging process. Modern diets are deficient in the nutrients needed to maintain and repair joints and prevent cancer/heart disease/autoimmune disorders. replacing many of these can get at the root causes of many symptoms of premature aging. Key among these: GAGS (glycosaminoglycans) and related glyoproteins like glucosamine essential to joint/cartilage repair. vitamin K2 (from animal fat, bone marrow, natto), not K1 from plant foods which has other roles. vitamin D3, probiotics and dietary constituents which quench excess inflammation (key trigger for many chronic diseases).

Our main discovery: all the work we have done over the years to set up good systems and nurture and create a community of support was essential. While our physical abilities were temporarily impaired, we leveraged our knowledge, wisdom and expertise. We welcomed interns and young people (without land of their own) to come, learn, share in the harvests and be mentored. We'll keep nourishing community support and hope that can carry us forward when the time comes for our bodies to slow down.
 
Kate Muller
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Location: New Hampshire
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There are some very good points and ideas in this thread. Taking to design things so they are easier to do is worth doing. Not only think about how to make your life easier today but what if you need someone else to do it for you. If your daily routine can be managed by someone who is smaller and weaker than you it will be easier to deal with sickness, injury or being able to travel. I know of far to many homesteads where only one of the person can do all the daily jobs and it can be a huge problem if that key person is can't do it. For example don't build your garden beds so wide that only 6 foot tall people can reach the center of the bed when you have kids who want to help out. Try to avoid anything overly complicated. Anything that is super fussy to use will make getting help when you need it difficult. Simple easy to manage systems are also easier to do as you age.

I am 43 and when we bought our home 2 years ago we made aging in place one of the main requirements for the purchase. We bought a ranch house 15 minutes outside of a city and an hour outside of a major city. We are on the edge of suburban and rural and we are zoned agricultural. We did a good deal of research on the town, permit requirements, and zoning when shopping for our place so we could turn it into a farm. The homestead is on 2.5 acres and we chose to get a smaller place closer to shopping, work, and medical care over a large place further out in the country. We may not stay here for the rest of our lives but I wanted a place I wouldn't have to leave as I age

The ranch style house is big enough for the 2 of us and has plenty of room for my in laws who may or may not move in with us as they age. When we redo the kitchen and bathroom in a few years I plan on making them as wheel chair friendly as possible. Friends of ours did this and you don't even notice other than the lack of upper kitchen cabinets which makes the kitchen look more open and spacious.

I have a good deal of arthritis and damage to my joints that will get worse as I age. I had both knees replaced at 39 and they will not be the last of my cyborg replacement placement parts. I am trying to grow nutrient dense food and gardening is my favorite way to get the exercise and sunlight my body needs. My husband and I have been designing our place so I can do the day to day chores to manage it.

We are on a east side of a hill made of of glacial sand on top of granite. We have installed swales and are working on a pond and roof rain catchment system to reduce watering. Eventually drip irrigation will be added to this system for my main annual garden beds. Our raised beds are 1 to 2 feet high with 18" to 3' wide walkways between them. These make it easy to navigate when one has trouble walking. We are working on leveling the pathways and mulching them with free wood chips from our town to reduce wedding and mowing. The pathways allow for easy accesses with a garden cart and we planned vehicle access for bulk deliveries such as mulch and compost. The trees near the house are all dwarf and semi dwarf so I we can stand on the ground and harvest. Currently we have a larger focus on fruit and nut shrubs due to the lower height. Grapes and hardy kiwis are being trained on cattle panel fencing we have set up around the garden. The cattle panel fencing is on 8' t posts with wires across the top to deter the deer. I love that it is easy to move and change the configuration of the panels as needed.

I am a huge fan of long handled light weight tools and I have a large assortment of them. Once your joints start to go having the tool that makes the job the easiest becomes really important. I want to be sitting on a 12" stool working on a raised bed or standing up straight. I can't squat or kneel due to complications to my knee replacements and the extensive damage I did to them before they were replaced. The ergonomics of the handles and how you use a tool become more important as you age. Paying more for the comfortable tool that is designed well is worth the extra money. I also prefer fiberglass handles for the lighter weight. We are also avoiding own gasoline powered tools so we do not have to store and maintain them. Renting or borrowing them when needed is working for us and saving us money and space. We do not have a garage or barn and we are not planning on adding one. It would just get filled with stuff and increase our property taxes.

We have chickens and they free range to reduce our tick populations. The main garden is fenced in and birds only have access when they are needed for bug control or fall cleanup. My bee hives are all in Langstroth medium frames hives. We stick to small easy to care for and manage livestock. We know we can't do it all and we don't have to.





 
Eben Campbell
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This is a timely topic.  My partner and I are also focusing on how to live well on our place as we age.   We are on a south facing rolling hill site,  converting a tradional house/barns/ornamental landscape into more perennials, nuts and fruits. Though we sometimes fantasize about living in the local town, riding adult size tricycles around to visit the local pubs , we know that it would depress us to pay power/water bills and lose our wildlife neighbors. We also feel a sense of responsibility regarding the protection of the large zone 5... And we just put in Asparagus 2 yrs ago, so I guess we are here to stay!

  The barns are at the bottom of the hill...so that involves moving chicken and other manures up to gardens. We are chalking that up to exercise. To better facilitate that we need to grade our paths better to accommodate wheelbarrows/garden cart...in our locale, we need to time earth sculpting to early winter or late spring. I am also converting some lawn areas near the house to perennial and self-seeding herbs to cut down on mowing. I am loving letting kale,chard,celery, dill,parsley reseed and always looking to add more such plants.

We are still vigorous in our early 60s (I find Miranda Edmonds whites,Classical stretch a great warm up for the day) though have been thinking of getting some help to get some projects done. We have an extra living space that we just used to try out a live/work trade situation...um, went ok at first then devolved into a verbal threat of bodily harm....so eeek. Took a week and a half of locking our doors, not engaging and staying on the property to unwind that situation.  Phew.  Our next and saner idea is to form a work crew with friends to accomplish projects for each other....just forming that idea so we'll see. Either way we know that us two can accomplish all we need to do, no rush.

Live long and prosper
 
Eben Campbell
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My previous post became quite optimistic- due to recent relief of stress, I suppose. 
Upon more reflection, I realize that we are one illness or injury away from requiring the system to be maintained easily by one person.
I have found as I age, the need to give up on some of my previous goals. Such as raising a small breed of pig, tho a worthy goal - the amount of infrastructure and learning curve required causes me to decide, instead, to focus on regenerating our existing chicken flock.
So concentrating on improving and simplifying our present systems narrows the focus and already sounds easier to accomplish than adding more to the mix.
Luckily, we have a lot in place - berries, fruit trees, hazelnuts, raised beds, chickens etc.  definitely want to focus on grab bars and shower with bench seat and no lip entry.
And find a family 🙂!   From our preliminary talks with friends....we may be able to form work crews to help each other out.  Super, back to optimism!
 
Brie Robb
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Location: Central Oklahoma area
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Ok... try again via the edit button...(chuckle, my 2nd attempt at a 1st post)
We have 60 acres and have shared land before, now I am looking / hoping to find a younger couple to pass the land to, because our children do not want to live here.
but how to find someone ... (shrug)... so, I put the word out here and there, ... if we don't find anyone, someday a trespasser with find what is left of me after the animals are done with my body. 
 
Giselle Burningham
Posts: 94
Location: Australia, Now zone 10a, costal, sandy, windy and temperate.
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Hi I'm a social worker and in a powered wheelchair and I used to do aged care assessments (ACA) for clients. I'm 55 with a body of a 70 year old, so I'm experienced with all of this! And we planned for our lives in this house until they push us out. Lol.

So before we purchased our forever home I did an ACA for both of us. This consisted of:  #1 nearest hospital, #2 good community, #3 falls assessment of the house and garden... Put in ramps now! Remove ALL rugs, insulate under the floor boards. The quickest way into a nursing home is breaking your hip. #4 good local transport for when you are too old to drive. Ie local bus with wheelchair access as You might not be able to climb steps. #5 safe guard your house.. Ie hand rails in the shower etc, shower stool, etc, higher power points, anti scalding water meter.... Very easy to do as you get older. .

EXTRAS. if you can, put a leaf guard in all your guttering.. Climbing ladders is not a good idea! Put an air con in the bedroom so really hot days you keep cool, and keep the cost down. Plus LOTS of water.. Heat is a killer just as is cold!

Then...You have food produce, raised beds that you can reach across, and get a large wheelchair / scooter around.  I disagree with espaliering fruit.. If you are in a chair you can't get close enough or high enough for practical useage. .. This is where community is important. I agree with a previous writer.. Share the love and the load. Swap pruning for skills, picking for shared produce.. Etc etc. canning and cutting up bulk food for dehydration can be a community day. I use Dutch buckets for growing tomatoes, and automated watering for the garden.  The chickens have automatic doors for opening and closing. Very secure fencing!! Big door with no step to get in. Long lasting feeder and water system And a remote day/night camera so I can see if there any problems. For the paddocks which will be too big for us to manage in years to come, we are ensuring now that the fencing is strong, it should last 30 years, baring accidents. so we can rent them out in return for cash or in kind. We also have plans for WWOOFERS to stay and help with odd jobs.

As for fuel, we have lots of trees and we are building a huge stock pile with a very good hydraulic splitter, which we will maintain, and when we can't manage it, we will do a swap for free wood for labour, which is valuable around us.

re general health, wear a hat all year!, when gardening, put gloves all the time, wear long sleeves and use Calandra ( marigold) oil Whenever you garden, it's a great healing antiseptic ointment,  your skin will get thinner as you age and little scratches can turn nasty fast! Eat heathy and watch for diabeties. we follow a low carb, high fat diet, great for reducing glucose levels and weight! And see your Dr for regular check ups. Ie catch things early! It takes longer to heal as you get older.

Lastly have fun, enjoy life, simulate your brain and do what you love and laugh often! Seriously! Good mental health makes a huge difference, most older citizens, 80 yo plus I have met all have a great big smile on their faces! That the secret. Lol

This is the bare minimum to think about and i recommend you speak to your local aged care community nurse who will happily help you plan for growing old at home. It is a very sensible thing to plan for in your 50's so you don't have to think about it when it is all too difficult.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Giselle Burningham wrote:Put in ramps now!


I'd be worried they would decay and need to be replaced right about when we need them...

 
Giselle Burningham
Posts: 94
Location: Australia, Now zone 10a, costal, sandy, windy and temperate.
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We used plastic wood and concrete footings! It  sounds terrible, but looks exactly the same!  And lasts for ever..
we  too thought of the same issues.  Safety comes first!
 
Hans Quistorff
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Giselle Burningham wrote:We used plastic wood and concrete footings! It  sounds terrible, but looks exactly the same!  And lasts for ever..
we  too thought of the same issues.  Safety comes first!

Plastic boards are 95% recycled plastic; probably the largest volume of recycled plastic, so if we want  the plastic recycled someone has to buy the boards.
 
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