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How sustainable are you?  RSS feed

 
Steven Baxter
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I would like to create a piece of land that is as sustainable as possible. I do not think I will have enough money until I am about 36 to buy land and start this. My main concern is my age, would starting a sustainable permaculture based farm at 36, be too late? My experience has been spent some time living and WWOOFing on farms and homesteads, volunteering on farms, being part of a community garden, taking permaculture courses, etc..

How sustainable are you, who have gone in this direction? What are some of the general obstacles to overcome?

Thanks in advance for your input, thoughts, and suggestions.

 
                      
Posts: 19
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My two biggest obstacles are reusing and recycling. It takes a lot of energy when you first get started because of the restrictions of recycling and fear of becoming a hoarder. Many days I don't have the energy for it, so I have to put it in a bag and save it for when I do have energy. It will get easier though, once we start getting in a routine of it.

Those are my biggest obstacles right now.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I'm hardly sustainable at all, I'm afraid.     My paying work uses a lot of plastics and creates a biggish amount of waste.  We're reducing our need to earn so we don't have to produce as much stuff and trying to come up with an alternate business which uses fewer materials.  But I think we're a long way from making a living sustainably.  In the household, we still produce some non-recyclable waste but if I can get to the point where we produce most of our food, that will decrease considerably. I need to be more diligent about handling recyclables.  Sometimes I frustrated and just throw things in the trash that could be recycled or composted.  So for me, it's a matter of overcoming poor organization of our waste stream so that it becomes a resource stream.

I should mention we're still connected to the mostly coal-powered grid and still drive conventional automobiles (but we don't commute, so that's something  ).


 
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
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I am far off from a sustainable living. I compost everything but I don't can food a lot in summer for the winter time. I freeze some fruits and can a "Soffritto" (basic element of every italian tomato sauce, containing tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and celery) but that's all. I have to work on that one.

Normally I walk or use public transportation (which is awesome in Germany btw).

The energy mix of my provider has a ratio of 20% renewable, 15% nuclear power and the rest is coal, mineral oil and mineral gas. Not that good. But at least I am connected to the community heating net, which uses natural gas to heat up the water for space heating and tap water.

I still buy bread, potatoes and all the "normal" stuff in the supermarket. But I always buy paper bags and compost them, haha! 
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1095
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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I would suggest buying land as soon as possible. Until you have land you don't have the sustainability of making long term investments in the land and it takes long term planning to do it. Leasing or renting just don't cut it. Yesterday I was talking with a group of farmers and was amazed to find that all of them lease their land. They're all just getting started and haven't bought land yet. That puts them in a precarious position where it isn't worth making long term investments in the soil, etc. First thing I did was buy land. Other things develop later.
 
Steven Baxter
Posts: 258
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Zero, I know what you mean about being a hoarder, its like you know you could put some things to good use but not now. But when you need the material now and go look for scrap/un used you just cant find any.

pubwvj, you are so right. Land is the first step. I wish I did own land right now, I just do not have the funds right now to purchase any. Like you said leasing is not really something I am into either.

My vision is a low cost "house," something made from natural materials, already made materials (like a cargo container), or recycled materials. Maybe a kit cabin. Or build a yurt.

Have water catchment and tank. I am reading more about the Jean Pain method and creating my own biofuel.

As far as food goes, I think protein and grains would be one of the only items I would need to buy from an outside source. Although having animals on the farm as a source of protein is also an option.

I think the one thing that could slow down process would be permits and all the legal stuff. I am not to familiar with all of that.
 
                      
Posts: 26
Location: Burbank , Washington (south central)
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If cash for land purchase an obstacle you could use this guys methods.

http://earlyretirementextreme.com/

He and his wife are currently living in a motor home, no debt and banking 80% of their income, in CA, yet.
 
Instead of a motor home , you could build a tiny/little house on a trailer, park in a mobile park or someones back yard until you save enough cash to buy property.  Then move your house to the land , instant homestead.  If you park close enough you could walk or bike to work so you wouldn't need a car.



 
                      
Posts: 9
Location: Spearfish SD
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The word obstacle is a tricky thing. It means different things to different
people. Your first question is : No 36 is not to old to start. Don't be afraid to get creative when it come to buying land, owner financed, or work trade. A lot of old timers would rather get a check every month from you than a bank (no middle man saves everybody money) Start collecting things NOW!! The risk of becoming a hoarder is remote. Have you ever met an actual hoarder? It takes a lot of years to get to that point. When it comes to stuff, get organized, keep a list, take photos and keep them on your laptop. There are a lot of ways to do it. Sometime things come available for cheap or free and shouldn't be passed up. Wood stoves, stove pipe, cook stoves, lumber, electrical supplies (I once  salvaged 25 outlets and switches out of a house because the woman no longer wanted white, and had them changed to almond, I'm building a straw bale cottage this summer and don't have to buy any outlets or switches) plumbing supplies, cruise around on the weekends and look in construction dumpsters (the big dumpsters that load on a semi) sinks, toilets, doors windows, cabinets, tile, carpet. I took home a thousand pounds of granite counter top two weeks ago. You get the point. So much is available if you just keep your eyes open. Give it a couple of years and you could potentially have the majority of the materials you need to build a cottage of your own.  Shipping containers make great temporary housing and work shops. You can pick them up for pretty cheap. Put two of them 12 feet apart and put a simple roof over them and have covered parking, or an outdoor kitchen. The possibilities are limitless. Another sustainable option is don't buy lumber from the hardware store, go to the sawmill, most of them will sell directly to the public, and it's super cheap.  Check out www.pangeafarm.com  We have a three acre farm in Spearfish SD and were doing a lot of fun stuff. Hope this helps and if you have any questions let me know. Cappie
 
Steven Baxter
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Thank you DaBearded for the article.

PangeaFarm thank you. I am not personally worried over being a hoarder. Being meticulous in organizing clutter is a passion of mine. I plan on getting a diesel dump truck when first starting out. Use it for collecting reusable material, hauling mulch and green waste, side business to haul others trash to dump, and what ever else I think of. I am very excited about your straw bale house you will be building. Please do (if possible) take pictures of your progress. I have just recently found out about straw bale homes and wanted to know from someone who lived in one what the advantages and disadvantages are? What state do you live in, or country? I know oregon allows straw bales. Not certain about the other states.
 
                      
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If funds are your problem, look into a USDA Rural Development Loan. They will finance up to 105% of your loan, which covers closing costs. We used this and got a house on 2.5 acres for 115k and paid about $800.00 up front for it. You also can have a lower credit score than what would qualify you for an FHA loan.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
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oracle wrote:
I would like to create a piece of land that is as sustainable as possible. I do not think I will have enough money until I am about 36 to buy land and start this. My main concern is my age, would starting a sustainable permaculture based farm at 36, be too late? My experience has been spent some time living and WWOOFing on farms and homesteads, volunteering on farms, being part of a community garden, taking permaculture courses, etc..

How sustainable are you, who have gone in this direction? What are some of the general obstacles to overcome?

Thanks in advance for your input, thoughts, and suggestions.





I'm older then you, partially disabled, and I am doing it with hand tools.  You are only too old the moment you start thinking you are and believing you are.

Each day my property gets more and more sustainable. 
 
                      
Posts: 9
Location: Spearfish SD
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The Diesel dump truck is a great idea, all our rigs run on used vegetable oil, and I'm putting a dump bed on an old ford this spring.  Make sure you put a flat bed for the dump bed and just use side boards when hauling brush and things. They are easier to load with a forklift too. (sometimes constructions sites especially L.e.e.d certified projects they will load the salvage for you. As far as the straw bale they are great. We are teaching a workshop this summer (July 17-27) on code approved straw bale construction. It's on the web site you should check it out.  We live in Spearfish SD.  It sounds like your making a go of it and keep up the good work.  Cappie
 
                                          
Posts: 59
Location: N.W. Arizona
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I didnt start this path untill I retired at 56, until then all I had done is study up and saved money..  In the 12 years since then I have acquired the land, erected barns and out buildings.  Installed 6 kw solar and 1200 watts of wind and purchased and installed a diesel generator.  Converted the garage into an aquaphonics greenhouse.  Set up 6 raised beds to grow most of my veggies.  Learned to raise and milk goats and make butter and cheeses.  Set up collection, refining and use of biodiesel for transportation heating and generator fuel.  Convert the deep well to solar driven pump jack, and install rainwater catchment.  Learn to grow spirulina and make herbal tinctures.  Set up and learn to manage poultry and meat rabbits.  Convert to bucket toilet and learn to compost in the desert.  While I do have offsite income that made this all possible I am nearing the point where I can just let it accumulate while I live off my efforts.  Very close to sustainablity.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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It seams like living sustainably is very expensive, with all these vehicles and alternative energy systems.  Quite intimidating for the slender of bank account. 
 
Steven Baxter
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Spirit, you are very inspirational. May I ask where you live, you said desert? Sounds like things are going well for you.
 
                                          
Posts: 59
Location: N.W. Arizona
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Yes Ludi, it has been a large investment.  However, money in savings is not safe from the wall street manipulations.  For proof look at the multipule crashes in the recent years, each of which took a third or more of my capital.  Further, I do not have to worry much about inflation or other govenment interferance degrading and threating my life style.
By settling in the mohave desert, in an area that is economically depressed, I have been able to stretch my capital to accomplish so much.  This is Dolan Springs between Las Vegas and Kingman Arizona.  While building permits were required in the past, inspections were not.  That has all changed recently.  The wind generators that I have had up for 10 years now require permits and inspection.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I hope you can post more about your systems,spiritrancho, especially your aquaponics setup.   
 
Mariah Wallener
Posts: 167
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
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Well I was 42 when we bought our land last year, so don't tell me 36 is too old. 

My most important advice is get rid of all your debt first. I like Dave Ramsey for information and inspiration. He's funny, doesn't beat around the bush, and bang on right. Once you've got no debt saving becomes so much easier as every little bit then helps and you can live very very frugally if need be (especially if you are single).

There are so many people out there who know how to build things on a shoestring. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money.

One last note: in designing our farm we are not installing any food elements that will require fuel to keep it going. I firmly believe that the price of oil is going to keep rising and rising and soon become a major liability. I am researching growing our own food for poultry and pigs. Hay-eating animals concern me in terms of long-term sustainability (we have 4 acres, so not enough room to grow our own).
 
Steven Baxter
Posts: 258
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Thanks spirit for the update, much appreciated.

Bloomer thanks for the advice.

"in designing our farm we are not installing any food elements that will require fuel to keep it going."

What would be some examples of this, so I could get a better idea.

I would like to learn about creating biofuel for my farm. Like the Jean Pain method or similar to that.

 
                                          
Posts: 59
Location: N.W. Arizona
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Ludi, I learned about aquaphonics from the forum....backyardaquaponics.com.forum.  My system is posted there.
lbbloomer, there are few food elements that we can actually get a harvest from without energy input here.  It takes five acres to range one cow here in the Mohave desert.  Any crop takes more water than we get as rain or dew.  Our water is pumped from 360 ft or recovered from 1500 gal catchment.  We could not find affordable land in a location with running water, or utility provided water.  Even here we only could afford one acre so space requirement is as critical as water or energy.  The least energy required is in animals: goats, rabbits, turkeys,  pigs.  Even so when you harvest eggs, meat or milk, refrigeration or freezing help preserve that untill consumed.  The point of decreasing fuel supply and increasing cost is valid.  So I invested in 6 kw of P.V. and 1200 watts of wind power.  I constantly look for ways to conserve power or water without cutting yield in my systems.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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spiritrancho wrote:
Ludi, I learned about aquaphonics from the forum....backyardaquaponics.com.forum.  My system is posted there.


Looks like a really huge forum, could you give a link to your system posted there?  Thanks. 
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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spiritrancho wrote:It takes five acres to range one cow here in the Mohave desert. 


I'm not totally convinced of that.  It takes 20 acres to range one cow here in Central Texas, which isn't a desert. 
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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It takes near 5 acres to raise a jack rabbit in the Mojave...and they starve half of the year!
 
                                          
Posts: 59
Location: N.W. Arizona
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Ludi, In the backyard aquaphonics forum look under members systems, scroll to bottom of the page and select page 15, then look in the author column and scroll down to  "spiritrancho".  Pics are there and discription of the system, but I have not updated it in a while.
Sorry, I dont do cows, just repeating what I have heard. 
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Thanks.  
 
                                              
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spiritrancho wrote:
Yes Ludi, it has been a large investment.  However, money in savings is not safe from the wall street manipulations.  For proof look at the multipule crashes in the recent years, each of which took a third or more of my capital.  Further, I do not have to worry much about inflation or other govenment interferance degrading and threating my life style.
By settling in the mohave desert, in an area that is economically depressed, I have been able to stretch my capital to accomplish so much.  This is Dolan Springs between Las Vegas and Kingman Arizona.  While building permits were required in the past, inspections were not.  That has all changed recently.  The wind generators that I have had up for 10 years now require permits and inspection.


Ive been trying to tell my homesteading friends from my home state this for some time. It is a very valid point. Permaculture opens the opportunity for land to become arable that barely was or simply wasnt before. So homesteading where land is super cheap is now feasible.
 
Steven Baxter
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SILVERSEEDS wrote:
Ive been trying to tell my homesteading friends from my home state this for some time. It is a very valid point. Permaculture opens the opportunity for land to become arable that barely was or simply wasnt before. So homesteading where land is super cheap is now feasible.


Getting a cheap piece of land where it is less than desirable for plant growth is not as discouraging in this age. It will actually be beneficial to start to grow in poor soil and desert like plots. Only time will tell.
 
                                              
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oracle wrote:
Getting a cheap piece of land where it is less than desirable for plant growth is not as discouraging in this age. It will actually be beneficial to start to grow in poor soil and desert like plots. Only time will tell.


I agree. We can be growing foods or fuels, or pastures for animals WHILE beating back desertification where its an issue, or in areas that were always arid or poor for farming. sure its not as easy as more fertile areas, but humans already live in such areas, and hurt those areas often enough with poor practices.
 
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