Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thinking It Through...

We would need to plan carefully. Taking stock of our resources, we realized that we had a lot going for us. Our fully fenced yard was capable of keeping out stray dogs. We had a wonderful mix of sun and shade allowing us to grow most any crop effectively. The back portion of our property was shrouded by the foliage of several maple trees. Each autumn, our yard was filled with a prodigious amount of leaves for enriching the soil. Our Victorian home was equipped with a generous two story carriage house for storage and there was a separate fenced area that had previously been utilized as a dog run. We had been saving seeds for years and we already had an ample supply for several gardens. Of course as a seed junkie, I would be ordering more from my favorite organic seed catalogs.

On the down side, we also had groundhogs the size of Volkswagens, raccoons, skunks, the occasional stray dog, several stray cats and far too many crows and starlings.

We talked about what we wanted to have: chickens, tilapia, organic gardens, an orchard component, a greenhouse, mealworms, redworm composting, traditional composting, etc…It was important that we not only grow food to sustain ourselves, but to do so in a responsible manner. We wanted to replenish the earth so that it could continue to nourish our plants. We wanted to leave our little piece of the planet in better condition than when we first found it.

There were also local laws and ordinances to ponder. Hens were allowed in our area, but roosters were not. This put an end to any thoughts of breeding rare heritage breeds of chickens. Ducks were also out, but quail were a possibility. Gardening was allowed, but a structure like a shed or greenhouse would need to be smaller than 12 feet x 12 feet or a permit would be required.

We had to consider the amount of time that we were willing to commit to this endeavor and more importantly…How much money could we afford to spend?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Blast Off!

We've always been fans of science fiction books and movies.The idea for Mission: 2 Mars urban farmstead began with a single premise... a fictitious trip to another planet for scientific study. If humankind were to travel to Mars there would be many things that would be critical to survival. Strong shelter, capable of withstanding the forces of nature and sealed for energy efficiency would most certainly be a necessity.

The ability to replenish the food supply would be of great importance, too. A renewable source of power to propel devices and provide heat would be crucial to survival since Mars receives significantly less light than the planet Earth. Whatever vessel our fictitious space travelers pilot, they would essentially have to bring along everything that they would need, relying on little assistance from the dying red planet. Soil would need to be replenished in order to support the growth of crops for food. For city dwellers like us, this trip into self-sufficiency was just as foreign as a trip to Mars. We would become our own grocery store and our urban home would be the vehicle to help us to achieve our goals.

Most of our city friends probably think that we really are from Mars because we have ideas about how to green our lifestyle and want to do alot of things the old fashioned way. But it just seems that modern isn't really better if it means that you cannot function if the power goes out. It certainly isn't better when kids (and some adults) don't really know where their food comes from. It definitely isn't better when it creates conspicuous consumption with everyone thinking that they are somehow entitled to every gadget that is released on the market.

Our journey into homesteading was guided by many factors, the economy, the state of global affairs, tainted food recalls, the state of the ecology and abhorrent factory farm conditions. We are guided by our principles and led by a craving to be free of the materialism that is so pervasive in American society. Our story begins here:

We were ready to blast off!! Tired of the rat race of city living in the Northeast, we were completely engrossed in creating a plan to escape it. With the financial crisis and subsequent bailout of the banking and insurance industries, we found ourselves feeling really insecure about taking on another mortgage in a state with a warmer climate. With the high rate of foreclosures, soaring grocery prices at the supermarket, the increasing costs for fuel, high unemployment rates and two kids enrolled in college, my husband and I decided to try a different approach...If we couldn't find our own place in the sun, then maybe we could bloom where we were already planted.

Hmmm...It did seem a bit overwhelming. I mean, we had already worked out a plan for a mini-farm on five acres. We'd have chickens and ducks and maybe a greenhouse for hydroponics. We'd grow tilapia fish in tanks and we could live off of the bounty that we harvested from our land, rather than from the SuperWalmart. We'd reduce our carbon footprint where we could and invest in solar power on a small scale to supplement our need for electricity. The question was: How could we do this in the city on a 3/4 acre lot?