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Help me rethink outside my box--quasi-community, urban, shady, 40" rain yearly, zone 6

Posts: 1539
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, suburban, nearish coast, 50x50, full sun, 40" year-round even distribution
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I'm getting ready to do my PDC (yay!) in July, reading Ben Falk's Resilient Farm and Homestead.  Some of the thinking part is really great--getting better thinking about your goals at the start of things, coordinating self and site rather than overreaching.

So, I had an impulse to post a thread and seek input.  

I've been actively focused on making improvements to site for 4 years now, and lived here 5 (did a bit of experimental growing the first year too).

My sectors (outside influences) (Too long, don't read?):
--housemates (varying levels of goofiness about permaculture/"eco-scaledness", all at least care about the planet)
--ownership/power structure is uneven: one landlord, the rest of us rent, but one of us is partnered with the landlord
--government: laws forbid open compost piles and (I believe) graywater or blackwater systems (poop and waste water), but permit up to 6 chicken, selling of agricultural products, and beekeeping and require all water that falls on the land to be captured within the land--in other words, a strange mix of progressive and not
--neighbors fairly friendly, somewhat disposed to communal gathering and most have some kind of garden, but not sure my idea for putting a trellis over the street will be met with enthusiasm or looks of terror.  (It's a dead-end street, very quiet, and a private drive technically, so we could do whatever we wanted as long as trash trucks can still get under it, or else we'd have to roll our trash bins down to the corner)
--square footage of land is 2400 square feet, minus the house
--lots of shade in the back yard (northeast side of house) where the growing space is about 25'x40': sugar maple, white pine,
--slight slope, some of it toward the house, a bit away; and now, a berm in the back yard that mostly keeps water on the land but has a bit of a gap at one point (my lack of understanding at the time I built it)
--2 fruit trees (paw paw) planted 3 1/2 years ago from saplings, 2 hazelnuts from saplings ditto, and then one paw paw planted one 1/2 years ago from more mature sapling
--landlord's friend has agreement to use of front garden (southwest side of house).
--landlord's family member when visiting has strong opinions and expressed criticism about the use of the space
--one house member wanting to have barbecue's and gatherings in back yard, and landlord to have it be a playspace for grandchildren
--lead in soil (between 450parts per million and 640ppm, depending where you test.  Years of compost on top of it have perhaps mitigated this, and soil has not been retested in those areas.

I realize this list is getting really long, and maybe less is more.

My goals:
--to have fun
--sustainability (if I'm destroying tomorrow that's not fun today)
--to live by my values--ecologically, especially.  have carbon and water footprint be less than or equal to my share of the pie of what's sustainable.  To produce no waste.
--locally, hyperlocally grown food
--to be involved in my food production and my output management
--to learn
--to leave the place more ecological than I found it and pass on what I've learned to the next person who lives here after me, whether that means after my lifetime or (seems more likely) after I move out to a place with more land-to-people ratio.

Also, I had a big (4') hugel bed, in the back yard, badly made, too much wood to dirt, and under the pine tree (kinda the only place it would fit, since I'd made a mini one over on the other side), and so it got too little rain and mainly served the function of housing squirrels rent free.  This did not completely resolve the Somerville housing crisis.  I did manage to save the comfreys' lives this way (they'd been dying, and I always thought it takes a nuclear weapon to kill a comfrey) with the elevation it provided giving them a little more life.

I can see Sepp Holzer saying to Paul Wheaton, "Get out!" which would make a good theme for a horror movie, wouldn't it? but I am not Paul Wheaton, my goals aren't as clear as his--at any rate, even if I were that clear, I'd want to be making the best use of where I am that I can.  Ideas welcome.  Thanks, team!

Joshua Myrvaagnes
Posts: 1539
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, suburban, nearish coast, 50x50, full sun, 40" year-round even distribution
kids purity trees urban writing
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A little Provocative Operations super-brainstorming thinking:

PO way of using my time here in this site is regenerative.  (Picking a random word out of a permaculture book may not be the most random.  Good thing I hvae a book by the OTHER Ben Falk here, a celeb bio of Robert Downey Jr.!)

This does give me the thought that I can focus on regenerating more than on producing--and that means healing the soil for the next folks...hm...I think i've been doing that, but the woodchips were a really mixed blessing...I think letting the weeds (mostly fat hen/lambsquarter) in theback grow and then mulching them down would have been better, but I did the wood chips and they're now a few years old and they certainly have helped retain some moisture in that water.

PO way of using my time here in this site is to foster.  (other book).  Still too abstract, but gives rise to the question, What can I foster? what can I encourage for the future of this site after I'm gone? what can I teach my housemates of what I've learned? what creativity or critical thinking they're doing can I plug into and foster? can I observe their permanent cultural choices and foster those, vs. trying to "fix" them?

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