I'll be 57 in April. My general health is fairly good (no heart disease, no diabetes, not overweight...OK, not more then 10 pounds overweight), but I do have a connective tissue disease that limits my ability to do heavy work, or to work for long periods. I know from experience that, in general, nothing gets better as we age. At best, you try to stay in place. I'm on disability, and I have no money to speak of. I'm also sort of a loner, and don't do very well in groups.
I grew up in the city, but all my life, I've wanted to be some kind of farmer or orchardist. Then I discovered permaculture a few years ago, and it was like, "That's it!" I have a small plot at the community garden that I've been rearranging along PC lines, with mostly perennial vegetables in it. But it's only 40 square feet. I want more. I want my own place, where I can do what I want, and experiment, and see the results.
I'm becoming really depressed over this, as I feel like I'm getting too old, and I have no prospects at all in sight. Some people have a green thumb. I have 2 green arms. I can make almost anything grow, anywhere. But I'm at the point now where I'm wondering if it would be better to just give up on my dream, stop reading and watching videos, stop thinking about it, and move on. But for the life of me, I really can't think of anything worthwile to move on to. At least, not anything I'd be good at.
I wrestled with reality for 36 years, and I'm happy to say I finally won out over it.
I can't be of practical use, but I know that "hitting a wall" feeling (another part of life entirely, but a wall, nonetheless), so I'm quite sorry you're experiencing that in this area of life, and I hope you find a way to somehow break through to contentment. ((hugs))
I'm sorry in advance for skipping past the "shoulder" part to the "coming up with solutions" part
So you have a passion for permaculture and you can make anything grow. On the challenge side, you can't do heavy lifting and don't do crowds.
I'm thinking there are a lot of people in your city that would love to have guidance in making their plants grow. Or redesigning their yards to be a bit more environmentally friendly. Maybe you can spread the permaculture goodness by helping others make it happen. They can dig the swales, plant the trees and mulch the berms. You can tell them where to put them.
I'm not necessarily suggesting that you become a permaculture consultant with a couple PDC's under your belt. But just being an environmentally conscious garden "consultant" could be a way to go. Or helping with the school garden. Or any number of other places that you could practice/promote permaculture with your brain and other people's labor.
That may not give you your own land but you never know. Once you beam your intentions out into the world you never know what might happen.
"Hundreds of years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the type of car I drove... But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that it becomes a tourist destination"
Don't give up!
I am also disabled, but I never let that stop me.
Not having your own piece of land is hard, but there are lots of ways to get your hands in the dirt even without ownership. Look around your community, and see who has undeveloped lots. Churches, schools, small businesses, etc. Offer to take over landscaping and maintenance of said lot for free or for the cost of materials only. If you build a little portfolio of awesome plots, you could turn this into a small business which could help you save for your own piece.
As for the parts of the job that are too heavy... Find a teenager in need of some pocket money to do some heavy lifting, or barter with someone to do that work. Thats what I do.
You could give up, but you'll never feel satisfied. Permiculture is kinda like "hotel California". You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
I was mid 50s when I moved to my 20 acres......in a totally different state that I knew very little about. All my life I wanted to be a farmer and never even got close. A lifetime of living by society's rules and desires. Then in 2001 I thought that I was going to die without ever having even tried. So I took the plunge. Sold 99% of everything we owned and bought land. I thought that even if I failed, at least I could say when I died that I gave it a try....rather than never trying in the first place. No regrets, I said.
I knew very little about how to make my homestead, but I gave it a go. Yes, I made lots of mistakes. I still am! But I either back up and try again, it change my expectations and learn to live with those mistakes. I had to force myself not to fret or mentally beat myself up. Somewhere along the way I changed. Changed my diet, changed my wardrobe, changed my expectations about life.
I don't believe it's ever too late to chase one's dream. I watched my mom die with lots of regrets of things never done and I swore I wouldn't die that way. I'd rather try and fail, than never try at all.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
My son has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, so I'm familiar with the ballpark of connective tissue disorders. I have fibromyalgia and degenerative joint disease, and I'm about your age. So I do feel your pain.
Any my theory is ... go for it. There is no reason to give up on your dream.
I think you do need to be realistic about what you're able to do. Unless you can find help, it's probably not wise to plan on developing a 20 acre food forest and raising large livestock. You probably won't have the strength or energy to do what needs to be done in that situation. But nobody said your place has to be that big.
There are people who are building a little permaculture homestead on a suburban lot, with a couple of fruit trees, some garden beds, and chickens or rabbits. There are people who have an acre or two, and there are people who have hundreds of acres. The smaller plots are no less satisfying to develop than the larger plots. You still get to plan and design and experiment, just on a smaller scale.
So find your little piece of land and start. You might only get a garden bed or two done this year. You might only plant one fruit tree, or put a little coop together and get a couple of hens. That's OK. It's not a race. And in the meantime, you can scout out places for cheap or free materials and find ways you might barter for help. Next year you might be able to add something else ... or not, depending on how much you are able to do. But it will be yours, and you'll learn to enjoy what you can do and stop worrying about what you can't do.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was a tiny ad.