before you dive into my post please note that I’m taking this all with a grain of salt. I understand I’m young and owning my own farm and homestead isn’t something I can manifest overnight.
Long story short- I graduated from university not too long ago with a business degree and sustainability degree. I worked in the financial field (yes very different from homesteading!) for a bit before quitting it all to WWOOF and eventually work my way into a paid farming position. I’ve always wanted to farm and homestead but I wanted to do it the “right” way by saving money, gaining experience, and educating myself along the way before I took the leap of faith to start on my own.
I am now in my 2nd season and the farm I am on now has offered me a management position come January 2019. It’s a 57 acre organic produce and egg laying farm in North Georgia. My initial contract is to end at the end of November 2018. So I’m at a cross road- do I continue with this farm?. Good learning experience, but lonely and not my own- or do I take a leap of faith and purchase some land of my own and begin my own journey in homesteading and farming. Or maybe just maybe, I can meet someone with a similar vision and we can partner up (maybe romantically as well, or maybe just as co-owners/business partners/Best friends )
Life is always more exciting to me when I can share it with someone else. I’m not looking to make any decision overnight and really can’t make any moves until after November. I have a little nest egg saved up for some land but would be really interested in applying for loans and grants. I would prefer to look at the Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio areas because it’s close to family for me. Starting a conversation now with someone would be great, even if it doesn’t work out , I’d love to just get some advise or meet other young aspiring homesteaders in my area. If you live in the Atlanta area, I’d love to grab a coffee on a Sunday (my day off).
The ideal person would be an honest, hardworking, and down to earth individual. I’m not looking to completely isolate myself from society. I enjoy coming into the city every now and then to visit family, go to a restaurant, grab a beer and listen to music. I’m not radically religious or political but I’m definitely liberal and dislike Trump. Food is important to me and I enjoying cooking and growing and raising what I eat.
First of all, welcome to Permies! I wanted to share a few thoughts on your circumstances, even though I am not the partner you are seeking. I have, however, been developing my own suburban-scale homestead - not a for-profit farm - for years now, onto which I hope my own girlfriend will move with me one day and become a partner in my projects here, similar I think to what you are seeking. BTW, we are only a couple hours from you up I-85 - you should stop by for a visit! : ) If you'd like to, send a PM.
My thoughts are these, based on my own experiences. Setting up a functioning homestead is a big deal. It takes a long time, a lot of work, and preferably a decent amount of money. You can do it on the cheap, too - people do all the time - but that only takes all the longer. It is a big financial investment that you will not be able to take with you or liquidate easily. For these reasons, you want to make sure you get it right, or as close to "right" as you can, the first time.
That doesn't mean that your first attempt at a homestead is the only one you will ever have. Homesteaders can and do start over in life, just like everyone else. That will depend partly on the particulars of your own financial situation. Just be aware that when building a homestead you are putting down deep roots, and walking away from those, should you ever decide in the future that you need to, will not be as easy as just quitting a job and finding another. Regarding the financial side of things, I should point out that I am building my own place entirely for cash. That is one reason it is taking me so long! Being 100% debt free is essential to making my intended lifestyle here work, at least as I've envisioned it. I am not really expert on how trying to do this with a mortgage would change things.
Having a good partner will be essential, and surely you've come to the right place to find one. I've been trying to do mine solo, and it has taken years and years and much stress and heartache, partly because of that. But finding that partner will not be an easy trick. You will have to be really sure that you are compatible, that you have the same dreams, the same vision for your property, agree on the same methods, that he is a reliable and competent business partner, etc. And that's not even getting into the complications of trying to find the right romantic partner in the same person.
Having a good plan will also really help. That takes time and experience, to create a good one. You can either develop a plan, and then find the land and the partner to fit it; or you can find the partner and the land and then adapt a plan to fit those. I sort of did the former. The latter is probably a better way, which you could be set up to do. And then I suppose there are those who let their plan "evolve as they live it." In my own case, I did not buy my current piece of land with the fully developed plan of building a permaculture homestead here. At the time, I didn't even know the word "permaculture." I intended to build a passive-solar house on it, yes, and I had a design for that house and how it would fit with the landscape pretty well in mind. I also wanted to have plenty of space for a naturalized yard in at least a semi-rural setting. And I planned on building for cash. I guess from these beginnings it wasn't too great of a leap to arrive at permaculture homesteading. Still, there are a dozen major aspects of my property now that I WISH I could do differently, and would have, except that my current plan wasn't in place when I started.
It may sound like I am trying to discourage you. I am not! Obviously I believe in the lifestyle you want to choose, since I chose largely the same lifestyle for myself. And it sounds like you're already off to a great start. Can you make your dreams of owning/working/living your own farm into reality? Absolutely you can! And you should. Can you be ready to do so between now and November? Sounds pretty ambitious to me. I would advise not rushing things. Find a compatible partner first and make sure you know them well. Assess your mutual goals and your combined finances. Look for a piece of good land. Start to sketch out a plan for that land together. There are a lot of questions to be answered, choices to be made. Then quit your job. That would be my advice. In the meantime, as you said, your current job is a learning experience.
If you choose instead to strike out somewhere this year, I would advise caution about whom, if anyone, you partner up with. Whomever they are, you will not have the chance to know them very well by November. Just consider very carefully how much the two of you will be entangled (in terms of investment, ownership, work commitments) in this new venture, and what will be your options if you find yourself in need of disentangling yourself.
Oh, and I forgot to point out: since you indicated you're open to involving yourself romantically with your desired homestead partner, you should probably specify if you are looking for a man or a woman!
I thought I'd respond to your post because I'm in a similar place in life, and can relate to some of the things I read, such as "taking this with a grain of salt".
It occured to me to post a thread here also, and I might, because it seems like the perfect venue to find someone with a compatible lifestyle, goals and ambitions. It seems more likely to meet a female interested in sustainable ag, loves soil, and who wants to write grants on a website like this, but it's actually REALLY unlikely that anything will ever manifest mostly because of distance, and age gaps.
I was at a similar place recently as I said, except I just turned 43 so that was a factor in it as well.
I had been offered a job as head grower at a licensed cannabis farm in southern California, but in the process of going down there I realized that a big part of growing pot for me was the freedom, liberty, and creative licence, and that through it I could afford to buy some land and start a veggie farm.
I realized that that job would not lead to that. I also realized I can't work for most people anymore like I used to because I've completely outgrown the norm, forgot everything I knew to assimilate new practices and new ways of thinking.
I've worked as a farm hand on organic pot farms, and organic produce farms in California and Hawii, but also dropped out for a while and lived off grid in the jungle and the wilderness where I started learning and practicing natural farming and probiotic horticulture.
Even while I was a farm hand I was growing all my own stuff no-till, KNF, style.
I've been doing it for almost a decade and in that time I've gotten really good at it, my cannabis plants reach over ten feet tall, yield several pounds.
But now I'm basicly over qualified and too disillusioned to work on any conventional farms and I see the conventional thinking associated with conventional farms as extremely abstract and fundamentally delusional; the farms themselves are constructions of ignorance.
As far as I know there aren't any Natural farms in my area, and if there are it's likely I have more experience than the farmer there and I'm sick of working for people who I'm not only more intelligent than but who I also have a more evolved and advanced understanding of farming than.
So Knowing I can do the labor and lay the irrigation on a regular farm, and knowing that I have developed a successful no-till planting system as well as becoming well versed with the KNF system I realized that if I combined the efforts I could easily run my own small farm and follow my own vision.
not only that but I've seen so little effort to drop the old ways for the new. I spent years arguing for natural farming with organic farmers who didn't want to let go of attatchments that have become part of their identity. They are just now all starting to want to get on the KNF bandwagon and acting interested in no-till but Havnt been able to forget what they know to assimilate a vastly different understanding because they've formed their identities around tilling and their nutrient regimens or whatever so their intuition is too locked up (and hampered) in what they've been rationalizing and idealizing to make the needed changes.
So I figure it's time for me to start my own farm. If I were to offer a suggestion to you at your cross roads, I would suggest that you start one too
I've been talking to a few people who have land and are interested in a cropsharing arrangement, who are mostly interested in having their land be host to a progressive farm.
But it seems like it would be more organic to just find every thing for the farm and life all wrapped up in the perfect woman
I am also not the partner you are seeking, but I live in the Atlanta area (Decatur) and am slowly permaculturing my property (when my two little ones allow). I would love to chat about what you are planning and exchange ideas. I am not from the area, so anything we can teach each other about the local soil, plant and animal life, terrain, etc. would be very helpful.
In addition, I am a business (accounting) professor at Georgia State and a CPA. Through my contact with Paul and other permies, I have become increasingly interested in the business side of the permaculture model. It sounds like you are already quite capable in this area, but I would be more than happy to talk about some of the challenges you might be facing as you get up and running, start to grow, and so on.
Hi Michelle! The farm management job sounds like a great opportunity to LEARN LEARN LEARN and develop your passions and save 10% of your income! Not just how to grow kale but also how to manage the finances, marketing, seasonal production fluctuations, etc. I would consider that job offer as a scholarship for a masters degree in farming. We all have to make the investment of years of sacrifice and struggle to get what we want in life and you are still plenty young to make that happen As any business owner, or beginning permaculture homesteader/farmer will tell you, it really does take at least 5 years to get things established above starvation mode. And most maintain full-time jobs in the city to support the homestead. You will need a solid financial foundation to create something by yourself and since you don't have a specific other option right now, I'd go with the job offer (only because you haven't stated a dislike for the job itself). And although you're probably a woman of integrity who doesn't want to disappoint the owners, keep in mind that ANY decision you make is reversible - you're not locking yourself into a lifetime at that particular farm. So give it a year and make conscious efforts during off hours to develop your dreams.
I'm intuiting that the feeling of isolation is the biggest negative for you right now. You might be able to fill some of the void by finding like minded people within a 100 mile radius to communicate with and visit occasionally. Western NC, ( Asheville area in particular) is a hotbed of old hippies with kids your age and young homesteaders who attend workshops like Justin Rhodes' farm tour movie debut. Reaching out here is a super start And other online forums and blogs can keep you stimulated. Finding your true love can be a long and complicated process no matter where you are and it will happen as you build your network. Look how Meghan Markle finally met her prince
You're obviously smart and hard working - you'll get there!
This has inspired me to create a proverb that applies to anyone in every walk of life (ahem, really a new take on "a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush")
"An opportunity in front of you is worth 100 fantasies in the head"
Hi Michelle, one more word of advice, you indicated two options in your original post - set out now on your own homestead or keep farming at your current location. Don't rule out finding another farm to work on. I apprenticed for five years at one farm before starting my own and I learned an unbelievable amount in the process, but looking back, it might have been a better idea to move on to another place at some point before setting out on my own. It amazed me how differently crops grew on my own land just thirty miles from the spot where I apprenticed, and working with someone new will help you get an idea what the range of management possibilities are rather than what might just have been your original teacher's quirks. So many farmers have a few tasks that they just always do on their own because they enjoy them and that they then forget to teach their apprentices. It really is helpful to get a range of ideas.
If that's not an option, see if there's any sort of farming network group in your area that you can use to go to classes, workshops, or field days. That'll help you get to see what others are doing and maybe help you meet some local people doing similar things too.
I have been looking to find someone to homestead with but had no luck yet. I was thinking of buying land in the south colorado, or north tennessee area. Im very good with my hands and work pretty well with ducks and chickens. Was considering even getting some goats but i figure buy some land, build a small home then build a garden and barn for animals. Im a 39 white fit male with good skills with tools and repair projects. If anyone wants to team up with me email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Open to ideas. Thanks.