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Random acts of self-sustainability

Without meaning to, I’ve made this blog mostly devoid of thoughts and happenings here on our happy urban farm. Time to stop that.

Last September we closed a deal to be tenants-in-common on the property next door, with the part under our control approximately 2350 square feet/218 square meters of raw backyard to garden. Since then, it has been work preparing the land, planting, weeding, controlling pests, and making sure we can pay the additional mortgage. 🙂 In other words, the same plight of all farmers, large or small, for millennia.

This is all part of a multi-year effort toward self-sufficiency. Is that a strange thing to be doing from the middle of an urban center? Typically one thinks of self-sufficiency as something you save for living remotely from people, where it is you, the steel, and the land. Here we have solar, but it is tied to the grid — when there is a power outage, we lose power, too. Our water and sewer are hooked into city services, we pay the taxes and bills to prove it.

On the other hand, the city can bring me fresh water and remove my black water more efficiently here with all these other people to share the costs and benefits, as we all gain from living close to other people. We walk downtown all the time, bicycle around everywhere, and fill our gas-guzzling Volvo station wagon once a month or less. Our power doesn’t go out here nearly as much as it would in the country, and we enjoy the opportunity to light a candle and be in the quiet.

Self-sufficiency is more than a way to save money. It is recognizing that we cannot live apart from our essential humanity, which is very agrarian. There is a natural inclination to be a steward of the land, rewarded in the literal fruits and vegetables of our labor.

At the same time as increasing our own self-sufficiency, we are experiencing a monumental increase in community around here. First is being such close neighbors with a family where we are all new to each other. Still learning our way around our relationship, it is forming as we work through the interesting, challenging, PITA issues of owning land together. Maybe it’s to our advantage that we weren’t friends first, instead we’ll be friends despite the challenges.

Along with Micah, Akiko, and Tamara (“I’m two ana haf”) come their myriad friends and their housemate and her friends. Micah and Akiko are well-connected activists, and we increasingly know disparate people in common. Then we added Melinda living in our studio apartment, who is a great addition to the family and thankfully offsets more of that new-land mortgage. Soon we’ll add a shared flock of hens. Much more musical around here.

This image shows where the new gardening space is. Our house with garden is in the green box, and the new land is in the blue box. Our neighbors/partners are in the red box.

Picture of side-by-side properties showing how they are divided for use.

Finally, some garbage at the end for the permanent record …

To get this nonsense off my chest, there are two reasons I’ve been resisting writing about micro-farm life. One is because I don’t have an audience. The parts of this blog that have to do with open source are hooked in to a well-watched feed, the Fedora planet. But that is just a part of this blog; I don’t send all my work there, and that is by design. If I want to write about homeschooling or farming, I’ll do it here and not make all the rest of the open source software world read it without wanting to. If they want to, they can come read more here; otherwise, why increase the noise and make people want to read me less?

The other reason is I want my wife, Debora, to start writing on her urban farm experience, and I guess I was saving the fire for her. Obvious nonsense, not like we can’t both write about the same things, same events. Anyway, them were continued excuses as to why I don’t get out farther on the writer’s tightrope. Meanwhile, she is going to start writing from her domain, and we’ll see if she does write about urban farming.