This is a Homesteading Adventure Blog, right? So where is the homestead, you might ask? Well, we haven’t actually started our homesteading adventure just yet. As of April 2013, we are finishing up school and selling our trailer before we hit the road and move out onto the range. I attend Southern Illinois University in beautiful Carbondale, Illinois, and Aaron attends John A Logan College in Carterville, Illinois. We both graduate in May; myself with a Bachelor of Science in Geography and Environmental Sustainability, and Aaron with an Associates of Applied Science in Industrial Maintenance and Alternative Energies.
We moved here from Springfield Illinois, another interesting place, with the intention of getting our degrees, but not necessarily to learn about homesteading. We both had interests in gardening and non-interests in having traditional day jobs. The 9 to 5 lifestyle has its perks, but its just not for us. Now, its not easy to just give up that 9 to 5 mentality; its equally hard work because you have to be creative, determined, and disciplined enough to make plans. Planning is such an under-rated skill that requires thinking far in advance and having a back up plan. In my Geography course work, I took a class, my favorite to this day, called “Geography of Local and Organic Food,” taught by an amazing professor who has the enthusiasm of a high school cheerleader, and the pragmatic backbone of a salmon swimming upstream. This class introduced me to some of my now all-time favorite progressive thinkers: Vandana Shiva, Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin, Miguel Altieri, and Jamie Oliver, to name a few. It was during this time that I began to realize that I could eat a lot healthier for me and for the planet. From this point onward, I felt an overwhelming urgency to grow my own food, can it, cook it, and teach others about it. So much so, that I’d be happy to make this my life mission, if you will, to be able to live on as much of my own home grown food as humanly possible, while taking the up-most care of the land and soil, so that future generations can have the privilege of doing the same.
Aaron has a similar enthusiasm, however his is more sustainable-infrastructure-minded. He introduced me to the concept of the Earthship; an incredible home structure made from waste materials, such as tires and glass bottles. More info on that at earthship.com. Essentially, its about as eco-friendly as you can get for housing. He’s also interested in making biodiesel, biochar, vermicomposting, and renewable energies like solar and wind power, all of which will likely appear on our Projects page in times to come.
So, we both have this drive for self sufficiency and sustainability and when we heard about a local organization’s Beginning Farmer program, we jumped on it! Through the Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings Program, Food Works helped us to create a realistic set of goals and a fairly elaborate business plan for our ventures. It also helped us to realize our core values and narrow down our multiple pages of ideas into more realistic concrete plans. After we started searching for land at a reasonable price in the Southern Illinois area, we got a proposal from Aaron’s father; 10 acres in Southwest Oklahoma. At first it was a flat no, because Oklahoma is known as the dustbowl region, where it is above 100 in July and below 30 in January, and always windy. Why on earth would anyone want to homestead in a place like that? Well Aaron’s dad must have been thinking clearly, because he showed us the land on a beautiful, clear, green, spring day, when the creek was flowing and the trees were full of life and we saw not dustbowl, but a place of amazing potential for a self-sufficient homestead. June 2013 is just around the corner, and with it will come a new school for Julius, and a new life for our little family. And that folks, in a nutshell, is an introduction to us.