Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Recap from my first week in Minnesota

One of the cherry trees...we planted about 45 trees this weekend.

After a long, LONG, time without any real postings, I'm back.
I was due to come back to NY on Friday, but there was just so much
to do still, and the weather was so great, that I had to stay.
I feel like a bum for telling everyone that I would be at the chocolate
party last friday...but we must make hay while the sun shines...

My mom and I planted every tree, and ended up buying
4 more to fill up some extra space that I had made.

I did 6.5 days of full work, starting around 9am
and finishing around 8-9pm. I was outside mostly the whole
time and got a lot of sun on my face.

There was actually snow on the ground during the first 3 days.

Not very enocouraging, but I wasnt going to sit around.
There was a MASSIVE pile of branches and dirt that had to be
picked apart for wood-chipping and burning,
so with the help of my two friends Aaron and Stu, and my dad,
we had that monster of mud, snow, and wood totally dissected in 2 days.

(This pile was about 15 times bigger than this)

We are going to to use the wood chips for mulch, and then
I plan to build trellises with some larger, straighter branches.

The spring is so behind there right now...
its not usually like this in may. Coming back to NY was like
transporting myself 2 months into the future.

I had excavators with bobcats (skidloaders) come
over and shape the land to build swales (pictured below)

and dig out the spot for the dome greenhouse.

Many purists out there (most who havent actually done any
real landscaping or large-scale permaculture projects)
would be tempted to give me a hard time for using
machines that run on fossil fuels to create my garden.
From what they have READ, we should be working without these machines.

As romantic as it sounds, spending MONTHS digging out land with
a copper shovel when you have other things to take care of,
is not a wise or enticing idea. Hire the guys with the skidloaders and be done with it.
Before I started I dreamed of doing the whole thing totally pure,
but after realizing the time constraints and other factors, reality kicks in.
So before someone talks to you about clearing land by hand,
or anything similar to that, ask them what they've actually DONE.

I say...
Use the tools of the fossil fuel era to free us from the fossil fuel era. Get it?

I think that is what every civilized society in the universe is supposed to do.

Hear me out...we start with fossil fuels that were stored up for us long ago,
and in the meantime we develop technologies and use the machines powered on oil
to liberate us from ever having to use it again. We have to use fossil fuels to build
solar panels and wind turbines, but I think thats the whole point to the game.
The fossil fuels are our freebie...gave our society a boost. Now we have to be smarter
animals and develop something on our own. Look into implosion technology.

But in the meantime -

Use the non-renewable energy to create machines that run on renewable energy.

And besides...would you want to dig this stump out yourself? Look at those roots!
This is where the deck would be, so it would totally have messed up the footings.

We all have ideals, but in reality we have to...um...be more realistic?

And also...one of the main points of this project is to show people in the mainstream
(suburban households, young people just getting started) that we can build a permaculture
site in a very short amount of time and free ourselves from the food-energy
matrix of the present day system.Telling them that they have to devote months
of hard labor to this cause will not get many people on board, will it?

We then started conditioning the soil with worms, compost, peat moss,
sea minerals, and used straw for mulch.

Straw keeps the moisture in, and keeps erosion WAY down.
If you cant get your hands on straw, what else could you use?
What does nature use to keep moisture in and erosion down?
LEAVES! Gather up leaves and have about 6 inches covering your soil.
Dig out little spots for your seedlings and youre all set.

We also built a retaining wall that will keep the back garden raised up
and create a walking path between the wall of melon/tomato/cucumber vines
and the fruit trees just below them. The garden is where the straw will be.

This is the back slope of the land, going back away from the road.
I know it looks like a desert right now...but soon it should be lushy green.
There are two rows of fruit trees with the swale in the middle.
I threw the seeds of wild greens in every spot I could find too.

Ill draw some diagrams to show what I hope it turns out like soon.
I consumed mostly brazil nut smoothies with ridiculous amounts
of bee pollen and vitamineral green and honey.

I ate more nuts that I would ever recommend last week.
BUT...I had no access to decent produce, and just stuck to my
smoothies mostly. I was active for about 11 hours a day though,
so I actually stayed in really good shape besides eating
way too many nuts. Activity really makes a difference.
I didnt eat breakfast though...just a big water with vitamineral
green and msm. I would work for 3-4 hours then have a smoothie.

I know this is a bit of a long post, but let me make one more point.
For one whole week, I probably looked in the mirror not more than
5 times. I was so focused on work and doing what I loved, that
I had no time to even think about physical appearance.
It was so liberating. I was covered in dust and dirt,
my lips were all chapped from the wind and sun,
I was exhausted and my muscles were so sore.
I went to bed so happy.

Start doing what you absolutely love to do,
and the more you do it, the more you will be shocked
at how good you feel. I was so disconnected with all the
nonsense of the city. People coming and going...having no idea who
they really are or what they really desire.

Im not going to dish out some lofty spiritual stuff about
finding your calling or anything like that.
Its very simple...DO WHAT YOU LOVE.
And if you have to, find out how to earn money by doing it.
If I was a doctor, it would call it a cure for depression.
Maybe pills arent the answer...maybe its doing what you really love?

Me with my parents and their dog Molly...
thanks so much you two for all of your love, help, and support.
I wouldnt be able to realize this dream without you.



Anonymous said...

It looks great! I just moved back home to be with my family during a challenging time (for them), and am excited about being in a rural setting again. We always had a big vegetable garden, and with that and the co-op in Albany (one of the largest ones in the nation), my access to clean and local produce is easier than ever!

Lovingraw said...

Wonderful post Anthony, thank you so much for sharing your adventures with us. I am so glad you ARE doing what you love. I believe that IS the way.

May your garden feed you and your family for many years to come... oh, and me to when I come to visit! : )

Anonymous said...

Anthony, this is beautiful! You inspire so! Your posts are intelligent and they teach me so much. Thanks for sharing your life with us here. It means the world.


Unknown said...

What a great post. It looks awesome A!! You parents are so cute!! I can't wait until it's done and I can come visit!!

Hope you get out west soon!
much love

Anonymous said...

So glad you're back Anthony! Job well done with your project; it looks so much bigger than I had ever imagined in my mind! You're very brave....

I've always like this quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer: "Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life." So true...and so many doors will open when you act upon your strengths.

:) Anna

Rebekah said...

Love it!

Keep us posted on your progress there. When are you going to start building the yurt?


Michelle said...

Hey Anthony,
Amazing, really really amazing! I envy you making a dream totally come true! I have many dreams but thats all they are right now. Just dreams. When i read your blog, i somehow think that my many dreams can come true! :O)

Anonymous said...


Congratulations!! Can't wait to see photos as your project progresses. My goal is to buy some land and do something quite similar here in New England, so this is VERY inspiring to watch.

Thanks so much and glad you had such a productive and wonderful time.


P.S. Your folks are super cute!

Anonymous said...

hi anthony,

congratulations! it looks like you're really putting your heart into it... well, that's the only way :)
my boyfriend and i have just had a conversation about moving into some remote area and creating our own paradise... totally jealous of you right now!
and really, i think the world just can't get any scarier and more absurd:

Anonymous said...

Anthony-I feel we have to live in the 21st century as it is. As far as using the heavy duty equipment, that is a realistic approach. I told my brother we make choices in this world as it is, not as it was. With our choices we make it better, it stays the same or we are part of the problem. AND.. Loving what you do... the number one key to a long healthy life.
So. Looked like it was fun in a good healthy way.....

Emily said...

\wow that's amazing, congratualtions on all that progress in just one week! You're inspiring.

Anonymous said...

beautiful post anthony :)
i'm working on an organic farm soon--this is helping me get through finals!

A California Girl said...

Wow- as always you are so inspiring. What a massively incredible project. It will be fun to watch this "come to life". Love your posts- keep 'em flowing!


JADE LIGHT said...

Yay! So awesome, Anthony! Keep us posted on this exciting project, it's really inspiring!! : )

Kevin said...

It's amazing to finally see your project materializing. You must be very excited!

I can only hope to one day own my own little piece of land to my food and a family on. Your parents must be very proud of you.

I'm looking forward to future posts on the progress of the permaculture project.

Take care Anthony.

Kevin Park

Anonymous said...

Hello. This is the best post yet! I have been thinking about your permaculture home for quite some time as you have been talking about it. I love the fact that your land has so many trees! It's nice to see that your parents and friends have helped you out. It feels like such a pleasure that you share this dream with us. It's nice to hear your objectives in previous posts and now see those ideas come to life in photograph. You are such a down to earth person and I imagine that you felt even more ground surrounded by nature and putting your love, work and sweat into something so meaningful. The truth is deep down inside this what we all dream for, a paradise.
Great! - Rebeka- ps your parents are cute and cheerful like you

summer said...


Mind sharing where you buy your fruit trees from?

Anonymous said...

Tony....I had a blast helping out at your new spot! The poison ivy is still messing with me but just part of the game. I started all melon and tomato seeds too. I really think that your post was a very good one. To anyone reading this, obviously it is great to do these projects without major machines. One thing to consider is how much your time is worth vs. how important is it to remain natural as far as that goes. If you could work for 5 days to clear and level property but a guy can come in and do it in 2 hours with a skid loader then what is the better option? I think it is a balance.

Anonymous said...

hey, you never posted the 5 things we don't know about you. how about it?

prunus insititia said...

Sorry to ask questions, I do know you are busy, but what material is your yurt being made from? Is it good for cold and hot situations, and what if things hit the fan and we have to depend 120% on ourselves? Is it something that could easily be repaired? I was wondering because I was considering a yurt in the future. If I magically come across money and finally pick where on my land I would like it. I would like the most durable, yet easily repairable materials for a home. Also the safest. I'm just curious what you have done as well.

So proud of you and your project!!

Anthony said...

I think the yurt would be fixed easily...it has a very strong outer coating. The frame is wood...so you could always build a more stable structure around it. You can opt for insulation too...its extra but well worth it. Plus the space is much easier to heat because of the shape and size.

Even if you cant afford a structure like a yurt, I would still try and get some land and plant trees. That takes more time...ask some family members if they are interested...

Good luck...and there are no worries about asking questions! That is what we are here for.

:) Be well..


prunus insititia said...

I am working on adding more edibles, but the yurt...that will be some time. Which is well enough for now, as I have major planning(and planting) to do. I have a feeling it will come to me once I have figured it all out.

Thank you for taking the time to answer that for me. :) It did help. I suppose I've got to start some research right now. Thank you again.

Debbie Young said...

Anthony, this is the most fantastic adventure, I hope you are very very successful, what lucky parents you have too!
Can I feature you and this project on my blog?
Let me know, I love it!!

Unknown said...


how wonderful to read your 'letters from the front'.............

it all looks so good........
maybe as good as you!


Carrie Nicole said...

This is SO fantastic!!

You truly are an inspiration! I cannot wait to see how this project evolves and grows. Hugs!

Anonymous said...

t bone - I just found som posion ivy on my leg from last weekend. You can't hide from that stuff! Did you get any seed in the ground at the end, or are your rents gonna pull it off before you get back? Give me a call soon.

yardsnacker said...

Great work! Can't wait to see everything growing this summer!

brokenbrookesboringblog said...

you are true inspiration for us who want to live off the grid. this project has been exciting to read about. i'm glad that it has come fruition. you must be so excited to start this journey. are you going to open to vistors in the future--some of rawbies would like an oasis to go. i hope that someday soon i will have realized my dream to 100% raw. reading about this project has inspired me to move closer to my goals. it's time LET GO of my old life and embrace the new...
best wishes to this journey you are beginning!!!