I have been an avid reader of permies for the past 3 years, but this is my first contribution. I am married with two kids and live in Michigan. For the past 3 years I have been struggling with the domestication of human society and the idea of permanent dwellings. I love permaculture, and have studied it well. I have 18 acres of wooded land, and I view my little patch as a paradise where natural abundance and beauty can be established and kept safe from the typical raping of land that happens in these parts. But at the same time, I feel like this is a cage, a beautiful and large one, but a cage none the less. I'm beginning to hurt, knowing that the abundance of the natural environment is gone. All the land is disturbed, or recently disturbed, species are gone or dwindling, and invasives litter the forests and wilds.
There are few old growth forests left; chestnuts—a primary source of fat, protein, and calories across the globe—have been eradicated here; wetlands and all of their abundance have been removed or polluted; and almost all knowledge of native living is lost. Because of this, it's next to impossible to live the foragers lifestyle. Yet, in these times, advancements in technology—as terrible as most of them have been—have created opportunities to reverse this and return to sustainable, fulfilling, free lifestyles. The internet has created a place of global information and communication. Solar power, bikes, electric vehicles, and the like, allow us to travel rapidly, efficiently, and lightly.
So the grand plan, that we're starting to work on, is a lifestyle of foraging and migrating, with a network of base camps across North America. With a band of folks we'll travel seasonally, spreading native seeds and plants all along the way. We'll camp and forage in state lands before settling at the next base camp. At our base camps we can have tiny homes, converted barns, lotus tents, wofatis, yurts, whatever makes sense for the location and land. We'll practice permaculture and establish food forests. It's a pretty radical social experiment, no rules, no hierarchy, no government. Just a bunch of nomads working together and sharing land, life, and adventures.
At this stage it's just an idea working itself out to a reality. My family and one other young married couple are planning it right now. If this sounds like something you may want to be a part of one day, join the conversation. In order for this to work we'll need people from all over willing to share there land for a season and join the adventure.
You see something like this now with the snow birds.
They have places in Alaska that they fish, hunt, garden.
Then they have places in warm areas where they also garden, fish, and hunt.
The merge permanent crops with annual crops.
Domestic animals only work if purchased to butcher.
If you have someone like a caretaker to watch the place you can do something like this.
The biggest issue I have seen is people stealing anything of value and destroying property.
Otherwise the land tends to take care of itself if you plan correctly.
Unfortunately, this has been done by those with money to travel.
Although I know of some who travel in old school busses.
Thanks for the input Alex, you bring up some good points. If I someone leaves his/her home for 6 months vacant, there is a high potential for break ins. Of course it depends on the the location, but having a house sitter would be beneficial. It's something I'll have to work out before anything happens for sure.
Not every property we'd travel to, or from, would have a house on it though. Living in mobile tiny homes would be an ideal situation. If we could use an alternative fuel truck, travel wouldn't be too expensive. I also really like the idea of traveling by bike, or electric bike. Also, we're all musicians at this point, so our travel could also function as some form of a mini tour. Either way, being able to travel the country on bike twice a year is quite an adventure; slowing down and experiencing all the back country, camping and foraging along the way, is half of the point. The travel would definitely need to be light, and as cheap as possible. If relying heavily on fossil fuels is the only way we could travel, we'll pretty much reconsider the entire thing.
Are families are both vegetarians, so having livestock isn't something we plan on. Domesticated animals tend to lock you into a location and demand permanent residence.
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I remember our family moving from California to Alaska in 1968
Eight kids in a old school bus that broke down twice. Everything we owned was in that bus. We lived in it for about a month as we made our way to Homer Alaska from LA California.
I am much older now and still see people traveling in old school busses. Some are farm workers following crops. Some are performers going from event to event. Some are people just going from place to place earning enough to get by as they explore the country. The old yellow school bus has been a mainstay for the traveler on a budget. I rember several in Alaska that had wood stoves like the ones hunters uses in tent cabins.
Living Cheaply: Converting a School Bus to a Camper
The "Grand Plan" sounds great! I'm looking into a van tomorrow so I can travel in a few months. I kinda like the idea of migrating like geese. lol Seriously, it makes sense - go where the food supply is abundant. There are other groups across the country that are doing almost the same things w/base camps. It would be really cool to get them together in a network where more people had access to them.
Keep us posted about your journey!
Thanks for the encouragement Jerry! I know there has to be quite a few groups doing something similar. I would love to create/join a network similar to WWOOF, where nomads can connect and share life, adventures, and resources. I haven't done serious research on what's been done, or being done, but I plan to this fall and winter season. If you find any similar nomadic groups out there on the good ol' inter webs, please post a link.
We definitely are considering the school bus thing. I'm pretty sure we can get beat up one from a friend for next to nothing. We'd probably convert it to run off of vegetable grease, and maybe create a loft sleeping quarters. My hope is get away from living most my life indoors and always be in an area where outdoor living is possible. The "home" will mainly just be a place to sleep.
It is amazing how being an avid forager could multiply the freedom in someone's life. You could travel light, cheap, confidently, and most importantly, freely. Mix that with today's technology, and you could essentially recreate the paleo lifestyle in a 21st century context. Nomadic/climatory/migratory. Then, of course, you reach the Garden of Eden that is the permaculture base camp, which is ripe and fruitful when you arrive, just as planned. After basking in the fruit forest in the south for a few months, you travel back to Michigan and experience the gorgeous Michigan summer once again, ripe and fruitful. It would take dedication, commitment, and hard work, but you would eventually create a tribe of people that no longer have to be bound by the mundane chores that is living in the contemporary American Dream. A tribe of people who live as humans anatomically, spiritually, and physically were designed to live. Permaculture really opens the doors for human beings to be relieved of the pressures of the social system in the United States. Nomadic journeys also meet the needs of human curiosity. The list is endless.
Tyler Ludens wrote:I'm interested in your project, Andrew, but it looks like you're staying up north?
For various reasons (zero property tax, zero building codes, big salmon runs, moose and small game hunting, access to huge tracts of state land, Alaska pays people to live here, etc.) our first property is here. However, our project really is about the network of clustered nodes of properties situated in various bioregions, and explicitly to foster nomadism (though voluntary nomadism, individuals can stay longer at a node for their own reasons.
We've paid off the first node, and we're still working on putting together the network, and have people actively looking across US/Canada. We have had a few people excited interest in rolling their properties/communities into the network, and we're still working on the mechanics of that.