Friday, May 27, 2011

Farmer Brown

I have had this post running through my head for several weeks now, and figured I should get it written down before long. It is funny how the little decisions you make along your life path can lead you to a totally unexpected place. When I was growing up, my great grandmother, Omi, used to grow her own veggies, make her own sausage, medicines, and liquor. She was born of the Volga Germans, and brought her daughter and grandchildren to this country in he 1950's. She was one tough lady (and quite crazy), but she lived a remarkable life. I wish she were alive today, because she would have been such a tremendous source of knowledge! Sadly, she died when I was in my 20's, before I was fully on this path of being self-sufficient. But I will always carry the memory of sitting in her kitchen, smelling her fabulous foods, eating her amazing desserts, and drinking her very potent cough syrups as long as I live. She planted a seed, which eventually terminated into where and what I am today.

When I was in middle and high school, there was a boy nicknamed "Farmer Brown." He was a small fellow then, quiet and pretty unassuming. Yet he had a passion for growing things. We were never really friends, but were among the same group of kids who had gone to school together since elementary school, so we knew each other well enough. I remember he once came to my house (I think he had a crush on me at the time, but I could always be wrong), and he gave me a gift of some of the peanuts he had grown. It seemed so surreal at the time, this boy farmer living in the middle of suburban Florida, with a penchant for growing crops in high school. Oh well, he is probably a corporate attorney or accountant by now. But I wanted to say thank you, Farmer Brown, for your peanuts and your strangeness way back then. I'm not sure it influenced this path I am on, but you were on my mind as part of a greater strangeness as to how one decision or piece of information can lead you on a different path than our ever expected. I really want my own farm and homestead in the woods. And I'm sorry for any teasing I did towards you. Apparently the gods have a sense of humor.

Land Shares and Homesteading

I found a great article on recently that really highlighted for me the problems we (as a family as well as a society) are facing right now. I'll try to pull up a link, because I think it is important to share it. Essentially, we have been trying to figure out a way to buy property so we can homestead on it, without really having any extra money to put towards it. We DO already own a house, a decent enough one in the suburbs, but in a town we don't want to live in. With no room to breathe and space to call our own. We could sell the house, but would then be homeless, without the excellent credit needed these days to get another mortgage. But if we sold it, we might have enough to put towards the property we want. A conundrum for certain. Here is a link to the article. I think you will find it interesting.

One idea we had to resolve our dilemma was to put out essentially a wanted ad for a farm or land that someone had that wasn't currently using it. Does that make sense? We are farmers without land, looking for a farm without a farmer. I did a lot of digging around the interwebs, and discovered some promising programs for people like us, but there is no quick fix. We were hoping to find someone that had land we could use to grow some crops for the animals and veggies for ourselves and the land owner to share. This way we all benefit - their land gets used creatively and sustainably, and we get the experience and products of our labor. It has been variously called a land share or garden share, and is a great way to bring people together for their mutual benefit.

And in a roundabout way, we may have actually found someone to land share with us. We are currently working out the details, but I am pretty hopeful we will get something going in the next week. If I can find some other folks to form a co-op to help us out and work the land as a larger collective, it will be even better. This will hopefully (fingers crossed) be a good intermediate step for us while we figure out the monetary issues for funding our own homestead in the hills.