Good phrase...California dreaming ! I got hooked back in ealy 1970's with a few good movies. Lived in NJ and worked in the Big Apple (NYC) for 7 years total with a good consulting job, wife and 4 young kids. Had my first business trip to LA in early December 1970 and found warm sunshine and magic. But it took me 8 years to quit and go out there to find my place. I did. Life finally intervened and I went back east, got divorced. I did return again in 1991 .
I started thinking of a simpler life that had more meaning than chasing the carrot and saving big corporations millions. I started rethinking what made me HAPPY. It was driving through the NJ farm land most of my young life; I just loved seeing it! I realized so much of the rolling hills with corn and dairy cows were gone or going fast as I grew into my teen years, paved over, as the song says, never to be again.
The point got me that it was important to save the small local, family farms where my family would buy our year round needs for fresh eatables. AND precious for my children and grandchildren to see, enjoy, and value!
That feeling led me to joining groups to fight land sprawl in Ventura county and run a demonstration garden. It also led me to learn with Jeavons, Ableman, Salatin, and Master Mollison in the late 1990's. When I did move back to NJ in 1999 I continued to feel that 'get a farm/do a farm' itch thing. I had little money and so looked to find people that had a farm or land and didn't know what to do with it. I went to land trusts and soon found several farms an investor had just bought just to save them from NJ sprawl!! But the owner was not a farmer but had substantial income and money . We met and in 30 minutes wanted to back my ideas for a 'model ' farm. We both wanted to showcase all the 'better/ smarter' ways such as working with nature, Permaculture, sustainable and organic methods. We strongly believed in community and schools involment. We did a lot before the owner's world fell apart and we had to downscale our dream vision and move on. It was fun, and we learned a lot.
Some years later now, I still have the urge to find a place to make it work. To take a rough property with POTENTIAL in a mild 4 season climate, for an older me, DO IT from scratch and open the door to others with similar passions and values.
I have been looking in CA , North to Mendocino county, Sonoma county , Santa Cruz, Monterey ,Ventura and down to San Diego county. Along the coast to 1 hr inland and within 2 hrs of a major city. I have found many places that fit with 1 to 20acs, and under $500,000. Unfortunately, I did not have the financial heath to acquire them. I now have those limitations that many have. I, as a veteran have been taught 'where there is a will there is a way' and so I continue to look and dream.
I have recently found 3 properties (5,10, and 20acs) that I consider workable and am investigating the details (soils, weather, cities, markets ,etc. ) as well as money sources to help bridge my ability and finances to make one mine. I'll up date this site to help others in how it might be done to make your dreams closer to being a reality. I also want to note that I have also had two farms offered to me with pay as you can terms to keep the family farms going but they were in cold winter areas I could not accept to live in. The point being is some old farm families do want their family farms continued in memory of the heirs and not sold to commercial developers!
Suggestions to make them healthy and financially feasible is another topic for a future day. For now as a young 72 year old dreamer, "KEEP DREAMIING...and believe..." Crazy Bill