We started on this adventure four years ago when we purchased 35 acres in the finger lakes area of New York state. The area had what we thought was important at the time … affordable land, big clean sky and no predisposition to breaking up farms for building housing developments. The property we found also had what we thought we wanted. Barns with a concrete floor (but no house), a potential for a pond (there was evidence of what used to be a pond) and a wooded area. We didn’t have a pre-fixed idea of size but it felt right. However the funny thing was what we thought felt right was based on a misconception of the property lines. It turned out to be twice as big as we thought it was.
That was sort of how it continued to work out. We seem to keep finding unexpected bonuses on the place. An early and delightful discovery was that our land had been certified organic by the farmer who keeps his cows in one field and uses another for hay. Our intention for the use of the land was and still is developing, but one thing we did know is that our intention in buying the place was to create a place where we could live lightly. That meant that any growing we did would be done with organic practices. You have to have a track record of growing organically for three years before you can become certified and here we were with that milestone already achieved. It turns out that we decided not to certify although we do use only organic and natural practices. That is a whole other story. And right now I’m trying to quickly catch us up to the current place in the story where our planning, practicing and research are really starting to come together into something worth sharing. We just started building a house that we hope achieves two goals: a very light footprint at a very low cost. And we are really digging in (and I mean digging) to build a farm that can eventually depend heavily on perennials, trees and bushes for a diverse food crop. It combines learnings from agroforestry and permaculture research, as well as farming with annual crops, but it also depends on what our land can teach us. We are surrounded with bounty that was there before us and we are only just discovering how to make use of it.