I'm a prideful person (runs in the family), and being unemployed with covid has meant learning to accept whatever help is offered, even when that help comes from strangers on the internet... which was really tough for me. But I've gotten so much help from people here at Permies that I just hope I can pay it forward over the next few years. I want to respect their privacy and not name any names, but they're welcome to chime in if they desire.
My plan out here was also to develop as much of the 93 acres I'm stewarding into forest garden as was practical and then work out a way to get that food into the hands of people for free. The church up the street is the only place on our road that's safe to pull out and park, so I wanted to talk to them about setting up a free produce/plant stand with the option for donations (of money, labor, tools, plants, their own surplus produce, etc.) No strings attached. If people want to try something new but would be discouraged by having to pay for it, they can just take it. If they don't have the means to buy food, they can take it. Even if they have the means and just don't want to pay anything, then that's fine too. The way I see it the world is being destroyed by commercial agriculture, so the more people I can feed with food grown in the right way the more people I can take out of the commercial system. Most of the commercial world as a whole is destroying the planet... either by the pollution it creates or the resources it overconsumes, the families and communities it destroys with our insane work schedules, or the uneccessary traffic jams and the ensuing carbon
emissions created on a daily basis by commuters. If I can reduce one of a person's major expenses while increasing their health and creating a sense of community
, then they are able to work less and contribute less to a toxic system... or at least enjoy more stability so that they can make better decisions about how they spend their money. I like to give, but it's not entirely altruistic. I'm creating the kind of world that I can tolerate living in, one bite of food, one seed, or one cutting at a time.
Even though we're in the middle of nowhere, we live on the main road connecting two counties and so we get about 3,000 cars a day. Not a lot city
standards, but that's 5 times what the population of this town was when I was growing up here. I think
I could reasonably feed a third of that many people all of their food every year once the food forest is established and systems are in place to harvest, etc. I'm kind of imagining setting it up like the local
gleaning groups where people who preserve can pick for themselves for an hour for free, and then pick for the produce stand for an hour. I've had boy scout leaders ask about volunteering out here, and there are probably opportunities to work with local non-profits and churches. Plus, we'll be moving friends and family out here as we have the food production and infrastructure to support them, so that's more hands on deck to run things. Everybody spends a bit of time working on food production (or whatever needs to get done in a given day), and everybody spends some time working on whatever they're passionate about or to create whatever income they feel they need. One of the guys is a programmer and I've been talking to him about building little weather stations that record historical data that are actually useful to people growing food... historical air and soil temperature, rainfall, etc. right where we're actually growing (the last frost is about a month apart between the three cities nearest us, so it makes it difficult to make good decisions about when to plant certain things.) If the deer
end up eating most of it, that's fine, but I hope we're able to eventually hammer out the logistics so that we can feed a lot of people for free, both directly and indirectly through propagation.
It's a far off dream at this point, but the beginnings of it are starting to come together.