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Mike Patterson

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since Mar 02, 2013
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Currently building up a 10 acre homestead in northeast Missouri. Put in a pond and some hugel-swales, planted 100's of native trees, and building a roundwood timber frame with trees from our forest. Originally from outside of Cleveland Ohio on Lake Erie, spent many years traveling and working on organic and permaculture farms in Oregon, Hawaii, California, Arizona, Missouri, and Ohio. Was also exposed to different natural building styles; cob, strawbale, quecha, post + beam, bamboo-y stuff. My partner, Julia, learned timber framing and other skills at yestermorrow in Vermont, and also spent many years doing natural building in Thailand. We now have a 3 year old daughter and infinite homestead projects ahead...
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Recent posts by Mike Patterson

I've attended a number of elderberry presentations by Terry Durham from River Hills Harvest at the Mid-America Organic Association Conferences. Last year (this year's conference starts this Thursday) he informed us that when they independently tested the American Elder, Sambucus canadensis they found extremely negligible quantities of the pre-cyanide or whatever it's called compounds. Like, less than apple seeds. And if I'm remembering correctly it was also not really present in any parts of the plant, not just the berries. I can't find my notes at the moment or any links to the studies, but what seems to have happened is that there was extensive research on European varieties like S. nigra which are much more toxic, and everyone in North America just assumed our elderberries must be the same.

Please don't go out and start eating American Elder leaves based on this, but I'll keep looking for some citations and maybe I'll get a chance to ask Terry about it this weekend at the conference.
2 months ago
Hello! You'd be more than welcome to come visit our community here in NE Missouri, Bear Creek Community Land Trust.

We're in the planning stage for our 2020 workshops and programming, but we welcome visitors at any time!

Good luck with your search and travels, and feel free to ask any questions you might have.

2 months ago
I'm pretty sure that's what we did for our cistern. I think we used cement, lime, weird glass fibers, and calcium sterate? We built it 4 years ago and it doesn't seem to leak atm.

Just a couple months ago I emptied the cistern in order to install a submersible electric pump, so I also got to clean it out. The top of our cistern is exposed above ground, and often in the winter the top 6-10" will freeze. I noticed some cracking and flaking of the plaster in those upper regions of the cistern, and I'm guessing it's from that freeze/thaw pressure.

7 months ago

George: I would love to know how to search for the intentional communities that seem to be working well, any suggestions?  The reason for the land is that we would like to do a large garden and raise animals both to sell and to eat ourselves.  In order for us to do that we would need the space.  I wouldn't mind sharing these things with others but to do so we would need to increase the amount of production which would mean more land needed.  Our final goal is to be producing 80% of our own food and then offsetting the other 20% with the income we would be making from the sale of our produce/animals.  If we could make enough that my husband could work freelance outside the home occationally that would be a dream come true!  I will definitely look into getting that book!!  

Hi Sami. I'm assuming you've been to already, but I guess you can't really tell which ones are "working well" necessarily. You can find communities that have been around for a while, and I guess that is one way to define working well or success. I'm sure you can find folks who have lived at long standing intentional communities and they might argue the community isn't working well, but I think it's also a matter of finding the right fit. Once you go visit somewhere I'm sure you'll leave with plenty of ideas about where to visit next.

One community that I could confidently direct you toward is the one I've helped start, Bear Creek Community Land Trust! We happen to have a few 10 acre leaseholds available, as well as some smaller options, and are actively seeking families with children. Let me know if you'd like to come for a visit or had any questions!

Good luck with your search! There's a lot of options out there.

8 months ago
So when people read or hear stories like this it seems very tempting to lament all the ways "organic" isn't the rainbow permie-dust we all hoped for. Maybe someone would hear this story and think, "I guess buying organic isn't worth it... etc." which would feel like a real shame. Until there is a well regulated alternative that is "better" than USDA Organic we don't have a lot of options at the local grocery store (if you're lucky enough to have a grocery store that stocks organic produce). I do believe the main reason the majority of farmers who are certified organic are doing it for the financial premium they get for their crops.

That being said, according to the NOP, 205.206(c)(6)

(c)Weed problems may be controlled through: (6)Plastic or other synthetic mulches: Provided, That, they are removed from the field at the end of the growing or harvest season.

the plastic needs to be removed at the end of the season. Whether the farmer recycles, reuses, or chucks into the ocean this plastic is not the issue here. The issue is whether or not we're willing to pay an even greater premium for produce that is more aligned with our superior permie values. Would a more fitting yet less click-baitey title be "Organic farmers being forced to abuse plastic resources to even attempt to compete with conventional farmers"? It's a lot easier to spray sevin or whatever, but if we want carrots for <$1/lb. we shouldn't expect them to come from a hugel-polyculture.

In other words, you get what you pay for. I guarantee you could purchase certified "plastic-free organic" produce as long as you're willing to spend a lot more than what you're already paying for certified organic produce. The failings of commodity crop economics is not the fault of the NOP, more a symptom of the bigger agricultural/economic challenges we're facing. Know your enemy.

9 months ago

Rebecca Amstutz wrote:Hi Mike! My husband and I are super interested in visiting soon. Could you tell me approximately how much are the leaseholds that are available for rent/sale? We're curious if they are within the range of possibility for us or not. But we want to visit regardless!

Hi Rebecca, thanks for the question. At the moment there are larger leaseholds (~10 acres) with buildings and gardens etc that would be more expensive due to the valuing of the improvements, but there are also some raw land leaseholds that would just be priced by the acre with a potential contribution to commons. I don't actually know the exact pricing for the available leaseholds, but if you do come for a visit I'd be happy to break down all the options. Were you wanting to start from scratch or did you need some infrastructure in place?

9 months ago
Hi Jeanne! If you ever find yourself passing through Missouri you're more than welcome to spend some time at our Community Land Trust. I made a post about it a few weeks ago, it's called Bear Creek CLT, and our website is here!

Good luck with your travels!
10 months ago
Oh man, my good friend Best Chainsaws is gonna be so pissed when she tries to sign up...
10 months ago

Timothy Markus wrote:Looks awesome, Mike!

Thanks, Timothy! Feel free to visit anytime!
10 months ago

Deb Stephens wrote:Sounds interesting! I see you have links to the other communities but not one to your own website -- could you put one up so we can go look at your new place? How many acres do you have (it looks huge!) Also, are you accepting new members?

Hey, thanks Deb! The link to our website is the one near the top that says "More info HERE", but here it is again Bear Creek Community Land Trust

And yes, we're accepting new members! That's 98% of why I'm making this thread.. we have leaseholds available! Some have well established infrastructure and some are raw land. Pretty soon the website will have all the listings clearly laid out for what's available. They range in size from 10 acres to 1.5-3 acres.

We've been living here for about 7 years now, and it's been at least 3-4 years of working out all these details. Considering all the communities that have failed over the years there is plenty to think about while establishing something new. We've been wanting new members for a while, but wanted to make sure we had all the details worked out before we really put it out there.

Thanks for your questions! Let me know if anything else isn't clear.

10 months ago