Every few weeks, we hope to share the unique stories of the people, farms and gardens that are dedicated to leading a more self-sufficient and responsible life. As we know ourselves, it doesn’t take 1000 acres or a 5 acre garden to have a story. Sometimes we all get caught up with the latest technology, the newest, biggest, or greatest next thing – to wake up and realize no matter how much we have, we’re not happy. Mary and I are more convinced every day that it will be our commitment to simplify our life that will bring us true happiness.
Our first story comes from Linde and Rich in Northeastern, Ohio – and shares a lot of similarities with our “farm”. A 3 acre plot, gardening, canning, chickens and eggs – and their commitment to a live simpler life.
With that said…here is the story of their “farm” in their words…
I’m Linde (the blogger) and my husband is Rich. We live in a suburb in Northeast Ohio, on a plot of land a little less than 3 acres. We live here with our 2 dogs, and 3 chickens. In our area, 3 acres is a lot of land, which we’ve come to appreciate and nurture. In return, our land gives us food, entertainment, and the ability to live a self-sustained life. We fondly refer to our place as “The Farm.”
I’ve always gardened. I learned it from my grandmother, as a child, living in the mountains of Pennsylvania. When I moved to the city, having somewhere to garden, even in containers, was a must. When my husband and I decided to buy a home of our own, we lucked into our tiny house with the leaky roof, and a yard big enough to fulfill even my grandest gardening plans. And so it has evolved.
This past summer our garden was about 800 square feet. We had nearly everything, from sweet corn to potatoes, zucchini to beans. In addition to our annual plantings we have rhubarb, horseradish, red raspberries and blueberries. We usually have so much success that we give a lot away to family, friends and co-workers. This year, people started offering to buy it.
We also use home canning as a way to preserve much of our produce. We make applesauce, apple butter, tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, pickles… You name it, we can it. The goal is to have enough to get us into the next growing season without buying canned goods from the store. Having a pantry full of canned goods definitely saves us money. We don’t eat out as much; we save on the grocery bills, and eat healthier overall. No chemicals or artificial preservatives. We know exactly what we’re eating, and that’s a reassuring feeling. We find that even though canning is a foreign concept to a lot of people, everyone seems to appreciate the improved taste and quality, and lack of chemicals, so we give canned goods away as gifts and favors during the holidays. This year, people started offering to buy some.
We’re currently building cold frames, lighted seed trays and learning about season extension. Most people don’t know it, but you can have fresh greens grown in your own garden at Christmas, even in Ohio! This year, we’re increasing our garden to about 5,000 sq ft. (4 times bigger than our house!) I plan on growing things I’ve never grown before like leeks, and brussel sprouts. We’d eventually like to add a mini orchard with a few apple and pear trees, and maybe some concord grapes. We built a small portable pen for our newly inherited chickens, and hope to add a few goats to the mix to help clear out our wooded areas of the overgrowth of poison ivy.
My love of gardening, our mutual appreciation for good food grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, and other’s interest in purchasing our produce has strengthened our passion to live off the land. The goal is to start a CSA (community supported agriculture) business, but we plan on getting our feet wet this spring by taking some produce to local farmers markets.
Although we both have professional careers outside the farm, we find more fulfillment and gratification in working our small plot of land, or tending to the animals. One day we hope that the farm will bring enough profit to replace one, or both, of our jobs. Until then, we’re satisfied with a pantry full of homegrown goodness, a fridge full of farm fresh eggs, and sharing our passion for the simple, sustainable life with others.
– Linde and Rich