Hum... my permaculture story. Oh well, I might as well spill the beans. I’m turning seventeen in four days.
I was born in Warrenville, Chicago. I had one older brother at the time. When I was four, my parents really got into gardening on the little plot in west Chicago that we owned. They turned every square foot of the tiny backyard into vegetable garden. By then, I was number two of four boys. Mama and Papa liked gardening so well that they moved to New York to start a farm and make a business out of it. Boy number five was born just before the move. We were a rough-and-tumble little homeschooled gang, and perhaps a touch of superiority complex, because our free-spirited, boisterous family culture, avid reading, and competition with each other made us strong, smart, and knowledgeable, while those we called “school kids” around us often seemed disinterested and boring. We first rented land, had a greenhouse for microgreens in the backyard, and puttered along that way, then we bought a cape cod house on five acres, and started a CSA. In 2012. Known as “the great drought”. Yeah. The CSA failed. We were irrigating around the clock, we had bare soil under the plants, we were doing a lot of things wrong, but we got soil amendments right. We sent soil samples to a lab, and ordered a soil amendment mix tailored for our land. The flights of Japanese beetles ate... the weeds. Didn’t touch the crops. Our veggies were amazing. But the drought was too much. The CSA failed, and we had to refund a bunch of people, losing a lot of money in the process. We never did another CSA. But that was far from the end. We raised sheep in what’s called a Lamborghini, a rectangular, portable, four sided box that we moved our two rams around in before butchering day. Most of the time we had chickens, later on we put chickens and sheep together in poultry netting, and to say that the sheep got out “a lot” is an understatement. For at least a year after our last sheep slaughter day, a call of “The sheep are out!” was enough to make everyone jump and start to rush outside before remembering, with a sigh of relief, that there were no sheep. We planted a small, mixed fruit orchard in our front yard, and that was probably the most successful venture we made, besides the sheep. It was very productive in peaches, the apple trees produced sporadically, and we got the occasional pear, here and there. A few years after that, Papa took his PDC. It was an online PDC with Geoff Lawton. I sat in for almost (if not actually) every single lesson. I loved every bit of it. I already had this disgust for waste, and for relying on outside resource streams to live. Permaculture fulfilled my wish for a way to eliminate both waste and dependency in one, self-regenerating system. Papa started to apply his PDC to the property. I loved to help out that way. We got up at five in the morning and headed out to the field with a borrowed transit level, and we would take turns holding the measuring stick or operating the level. We put in several quite long micro swales on the goldenrod-dominated hills, and planted a few trees. Maybe one or two survived. I’m not sure. We dug raised beds in the front yard, inside from the swale that we dug just above the orchard. We had an extremely diverse garden, with berry bushes, and comfrey, and kale, and all sorts of weeds getting mulched in place, and amaranth, and clover absolutely everywhere, and more, and more, and more. There were about two or three years in which we almost fed ourselves... and then everything kind of faded away. We were tired, and worn down from extremely antagonistic neighbors, and code enforcement officials showing up to tell us just how horribly prohibited our most recent earth-healing projects were, and so many other things. Our last years at that house were so depressing, but it was during those years that a new idea sparked in our lives. Something that seemed so obvious, and yet totally, absolutely insane. “Let’s move to Russia!” we said. We had many, many, very good reasons to do so. So, long story short, we did, and so we are now in Russia. We are renting a house, growing potatoes and onions, and we built a keyhole hugulkulture bed. I have some good friends in a village nearby, and I am doing my PDC design exercise on their property. I have it all mapped out in my head, and we are implementing it, but I haven’t written it down yet, which I have to do so Papa can certify me. I will figure that out eventually. As you can see, my permaculture story is just beginning. I have so many projects that I want to get started. I need some land and a wife. We’ll raise a family, and create abundance around us. That’s my dream.