Monday, 8 April 2013

The search for Eden

Yes folks, this title sounds like something we would normally reject. But in this case (as usual) we are focusing again on more earthly realities, than divine salvation or other dubious lost histories. The reality of this world has already pushed wildlife and nature to the brink of existence by displacing them from their natural habitat. In our opinion, the same thing is happening to us humans. We are not made to live in a concrete jungle that is lit up 24 hours of the day by yellow sodium lighting and Neon signs. At least the two of us are not.

So we decided that we will try to find a place where we can push nature into the opposite direction and try to build a system that is of ludicrous abundance. A Garden of Eden, so to speak,  for ourselves and the animals around us.

Since we currently live in beautiful New Brunswick and have lived through several winters here, we had the fantastic opportunity to observe life in one of the most extreme regions where proper gardening is still possible. There are quite a number of "Cold Temperate Region" gardening books out there. What sucks about them is, that when you get all excited, leaf through it and then find references to Northumberland, England as examples of "Cold Temperate". Well, what on Earth do you call New Brunswick then, where on March 31st the ground is still frozen solid an inch under the mud line, if the ground is clear of snow at all. No offence meant to the English country men and women, but New Brunswick is just a little further down the scale.

So in other words, there's a far shorter growing season (last frost date for us here is Full Moon in June, first is Full Moon September, no lie), mostly due to the ground needing to thaw out. Also, maybe to counter this, the summers are hot, hot, hot. The sun gets pretty powerful and the plants do suffer under it. There are also few specific learning resources available other than David Jacke's work (Edible Forest Gardens) and specialized Maritime gardening books , but since the majority of these consist of the "add fertilizer, pesticide and lawn seed" school of thinking, they're also pretty useless for our purposes. 

The opportunities of this climate have made a few truths very clear;
The main one being: Self sufficiency is EXTREMELY hard to achieve. Greenhouse, cold frames, trees, and livestock without them, you're going to be struggling. The purpose of the greenhouse and cold frames should be fairly obvious, the season is just too short to seed everything out. Perrennials will cut down on the work and are more guarantueed to throw off some yield. Without the livestock your food storage might last until December, or maybe even into January, but then you are still looking at 5 month before the next bit of edible stuff comes your way.

In light of this we have realised that we should rather be going with nature then against it and given in. We decided to move south (not by much, but still a little) to wonderful Nova Scotia.

We have been involved in Permaculture for a while now and feel that this way of living will at least part of the answer to surviving climate change and an increasingly more devastated world. We want to share our knowledge and experience  but also put our money where our mouth is and show that this type of living is not only possible, but also of much better quality than what is standard in the so called modern world.

We therefore want to start a Permaculture and sustainable living education center, starting with the purchase of the land this year.
Our plan is to start small by holding and hosting workshops while we start building the first parts of the infrastructure like the main house built from natural materials or the initial garden parts. Later then we will add accomodations for guests and 'students' and hopefully host full length Permaculture Design and other multiple day long courses. 

After long deliberation and brainstorming we decided that the property should be at least 10 acres in size but preferrably bigger (when it comes to land more is always better. The quality of land can always be changed, the size can't.) The cheaper the better of course. The plan is to have the land paid off completely within the next year before we start building on it. Fiscal security is a must and no debt is the best security.

This blog will inform you of what is happening and how we get along. Feel free to share any experiences with us here on the blog. If you want to take part during any stage of this 'experiment' please let us know and we will see how you can help and what we can give you in return.

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