And is it possible that anyone who reads this blog isn’t dreaming of 5 acres?
But if you had the chance – would you? Uproot your family, leave the secure real estate of the city with its conveniences and many friends and activities? Trade it all for isolation and the unknown?
The risk of gardening at 400 feet in elevation? (I know, you in Colorado at 6512 feet are scoffing but the sun actually shines there!)
The risk that bears will break into the henhouse or come crash your marshmallow roasts? That deer will eat all your vegetables?
What would you do with 5 wooded acres?
And how could you use 5 wooded acres to strengthen food security back in the city for others without access to 5 acres?
Is 5 acres enough? Too much?
If things work out I will be finding out. Sometime late next week I should know for certain that we will be leaving the city for 5 wooded acres at 400′ past Ames Lake, populated by bears and deer.
This last year I’ve swung back and forth on this decision. It’s not possible for everyone in the city to leave it and we can’t all afford to. That pains me just as much as the argument that real food is too expensive, that locavores are silly, and that this food movement is elitist. It’s urban sprawl at its worst – the idea of 5 acres per family, or even 1 acre per family is part of why we have lost so much farmland in the last 50 years.
But here’s what I’m thinking: On that 5 acres I intend to start the first COA (community owned agriculture for those who have joined me since last fall). It will be small, maybe 4-5 other families who live in the city. I won’t grow produce for you, I will demand that you do that in the city and I will provide as much knowledge and hand-holding as possible. What I can do for you is prove this model and provide you with what you cannot do in the city – a home for livestock. A place for community. A retreat. Staycations. Hopefully a template that can be recreated anywhere despite political or economical climates.
I don’t want to farm 5 acres by myself. I want to go on vacation every year and spend more time with my family. I want to get back to blogging. I want to grow old gracefully, and not the haggard, sleepless aging of someone with too much to do and no support. I’m looking for those families who are interested in the COA but have more time than money. I’m especially interested in those families with small kids who need support. Those families who sacrificed a second income in order to raise a family. If this is you please let me know.
Here’s what I’m not interested in: Commercial farming. Spending all my time growing annual vegetables. Selling raw milk products when the FDA has mandating they will shut down X number of raw milk dairies per year. Naysayers.
What does this mean for this blog? More experiments, especially in early variety vegetables grown in part shade conditions. If you read Cliff Mass’ blog you know we may well be in for a 30 year cooling trend in the Pacific NW so these experiments will benefit us all! More experiments with perennial or reseeding vegetables so that I don’t spend much time gardening. More cute baby goat, rabbit, chick, duckling and perhaps some turkey and pig pictures. More permaculture, vermiculture and compost. In short, more poop. And hopefully more whimsey because I’ve missed it this winter.
You will also be seeing a new template as soon as I can figure it out. Easier access to old posts that probably contain gardening or cooking or philosophical content that is highly relevant to those with small city lots.
And you’ll be seeing new content from my co-author, Joshua McNichols who lives on a small city lot in Ballard and has no plans to leave it. He rocks. He remembers to focus his camera. If he says something you can rest assured he has thought about all sides of it for a long time, interviewed, researched and mastered it. He’s jiggy like that.
As for me, I’m ready to kick up my bloomers and maybe even do that in the course of a cartwheel or two. I’m ready. Are you?