As of this writing, MotherOak permaculture centre houses one permanent resident(me, alex), and also has Anna, my daughter who is also market gardening, living directly adjacent(we divided the property with divorce) in the older farm house and sharing some of our infrastructure and services. Our community so far has been a transient one, consisting of interns and friends visiting and volunteering, mainly during the growing season. Though we do have local friends who pass through, and a few local customers who come by for produce, due to our proximity to Halifax(55minutes) this is by and large a ‘bedroom community,’ and so has few working farms, and therefore few opportunities for alliances in that regard. It is a sad reality that many of us farmers and market gardeners have unfulfilled longings for community, but that is what happens when most people live in cities.
It has been my feeling for some time now that forming community is both one of the most important and most difficult tasks facing us all. Important because the only way we are going to transition to a more resilient and sustainable future is in groups–i.e. communities, and difficult because cheap and abundant energy has allowed us over the last 60 years or so to develop a sense of individualism and love of privacy that undermines our capacity for communal life. i’m not referring to sleeping in the same house here necessarily, but simply helping each other with domestic tasks, farming type chores, sharing tools, building together, gardening together–that kind of thing. Anyhow, the good news is that many of us are waking up to the fact that community will be a key to our well being and perhaps survival in the challenging times that are clearly coming. In the transition movement it is said that top down/ government efforts will be too little too late, individual efforts will be too little, but together community efforts may be just enough. As someone who has been living an agrarian lowish impact lifestyle for over twenty five years now, and intensely into permaculture for over five, i couldn’t agree more.
My first conceptions of how to arrange land tenure here involve some kind of legal organization that allows others to buy into the place–i think a sense of ownership is essential to establishing responsibility–but buying in of course involves money. Not surprisingly, what i’ve discovered thus far is most of the types of people–especially the younger ones– who might want to jump into this type of venture don’t have much money. Logically enough that’s not how they’ve been spending their time. The upshot here is that it’s become very clear to me that finding “a good fit” in people for this place should have money as a quite secondary consideration, so with that finally said, here is what we’re looking for:
A youngish(there is flexibility here of course) couple who are interested in partnering here on this permaculture homestead combined with a small scale market gardening operation. Of primary importance are shared values and objectives: a willingness to cooperate in learning to work with others responsibly, to live low impact/planet friendly lifestyles, a healthy sense of goodheartedness and good humor, a willingness to let go of fixed ideas and stubborness, recognizing that there are almost always multiple perspectives. A commitment to basic virtues such as patience, generosity, exertion, and kindness, just to name a few. Along with these is a willingness to stay put for a while—the idea at this point is a trial run(6 months?), followed by a minimum commitment of two years.
With that said, the financial aspect is negotiable–there are various possibilities (and we remain open to suggestions). We are not necessarily looking for just workers who want to live here– more than that we are looking for a couple who are somewhat self-directing, creative, flexible and imaginative in helping us weave this arrangement. There is of course work to be done, and sweat equity and sharecropping are among the possibilities. There is also the potential around the teaching of permaculture, which is very dear to my own heart. What is offered is good shelter, good food, good company, good work, and many possibilities along the way. And we want to do this consciously–eyes wide open, yes? So disclosure at all levels is quite important.
There are of course many more details to cover and discuss, but if you are interested in exploring possibilities, please write us an informative inquiry and we could move on from there. Thanks! alexdenicolaathotmail.com