"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." Lao Tzu
Click here to listen to a recent interview I did with Urban Farm U about our self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyle!! Follow this link to read the accompanying article I wrote expanding somewhat on some of the same topics.
THIS is my happy place!
Besides foraging for wild edibles & medicinals, our gardens are an essential part of providing for ourselves. They require a great deal of work which is why volunteers are such a crucial part of efficient operation of the homestead. It is well worth every effort, though, as it is truly amazing what can be grown in this environment! We are rated as Zone 3, but through the use of hoophouses & raised beds, many plants can successfully grow even this far north, giving our diets increased variety & more nutrients than ever before!
Thanks to a grant from the Natural Resource Conservation Society two hoophouses were constructed on-site in October of 2012, giving us almost 1900 square feet of indoor growing space! Thanks to the wonder of alternative energy, we have FREE electricity running fans & lights in the hoophouses, & we hope to add an irrigation system on timers in the not-too-distant future.
Thanks to the efforts of my incredible gardening angel in 2013, WWOOFer Melanie G., & her super-cool sweetie, Matt C., we've done all that "AND a bag'a chips!!" Nearly 2500 square feet of outdoor beds have been created for things that do well enough outside that they don't need to take up precious space in the hoophouses, & we even added a chicken coop with 8 hens to the list of Mystic Mountain residents!
Over the course of the summer of 2013, we made SIX weekly visits to the native village of Port Lions, bringing coolers & totes laden with organic produce from the gardens, & home-made goodies like wheat bread/rolls, kelp pickles & jams/jellies. The local residents were incredibly supportive of our venture, we got RAVE reviews, & several of them placed orders for the weeks ahead, expressing a desire for establishing a CSA! My heartfelt desire was to inspire someone WITHIN the village to grow FOR the village, and in the fall of 2015 I received news that the village had applied for & been granted funds to build their OWN community hoophouse!
In 2014, it was necessary for me to be gone sporadically in order to go commercial salmon fishing with my husband on the F/V Woody, so our WWOOFers had the run of (& full responsibility for) the place! They did an adequate job at caring for the livestock, tending to the garden's weeding & watering, & sustaining their own basic needs & safety. There wasn't a whole lot of progress made over the course of the summer with regards to gathering amendments, however, so when they left the homestead a month earlier than they'd planned it was up to me to do all the harvesting & then prep the beds for the winter. Whew! It was a BIG job, but one thing I've learned about gardening is that you can only do so much.
Again in 2015 my precious gardens were terribly neglected when I had to accompany my husband to the fishing grounds in Bristol Bay. Having no-one there to open the walls when it was hot or to water on a regular basis resulted in many of the plants getting baked to a crisp or choked out by weeds. This has impressed on me the absolute necessity of installing irrigation this coming spring. Watering from the top has several downsides: it can lead to mold & rot issues, a lot of the water is wasted as it dissipates into the air, & perhaps most bothersome is the amount of TIME it takes to stand around holding a hose or re-situating sprinkler heads. In 2016 my helpers & I will also be focusing on incorporating a great deal of organic matter into the soil & establishing a nice layer of mulch, both of which will help the beds retain moisture.
To see diagrams of the garden plans for 2014, check out these links through the most awesome on-line Garden Planner program:
My long-term vision for this property includes developing a SustainabilityLearning Center. Our raison d'etre ("reason for being" in French--it's just so much more fun to SAY!) is to inspire others to become more self-sufficient; towards that end, guests will be able to attend seminars of various lengths on subjects such as:
Gathering Wild Plants for Food or Medicine Subsistence Salmon 101--How to set your gillnet, how to fillet/can/pickle & smoke the catch Organic Gardening & Composting (yes, it CAN be done in this climate!) Raising Chickens for Eggs/Meat Putting Food Up--dehydrating/canning/freezing your harvest Alternative Energy Yoga/Pilates Retreats & Fitness BootCamps Girlfriends' Getaways: Health & Beauty Spa in the Wilderness The Healing Power of Essential Oils & more!
I am wide open to suggestions regarding seminar topics, & would love to hear from anyone who thinks they have something to contribute to this venture. Have an idea for a class you'd like to teach or be a student of? Great! This unique property has the potential to function in numerous capacities, so let's explore the possibilities together!