Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Space of Love

Your first always has a special place in your heart.
I sometimes wonder if the forest garden I am building
in Minnesota will be the one that I will live in with my
family when Im older, or if I will build another with someone
and live there instead. I have such a strong connection to
this place in Minnesota though, and I am always thinking about being there.

I was originally going to build my garden in Woodstock NY.
I had the land purchased, I had the drawings made,
and had already started talking to excavators.

But then a massive wave of clarity washed over me -
"Why build a family food forest away from MY family?"
My parents live across the road from the garden,
and it really sank in that I not only need to do this for me
(and maybe my future family) but especially for my family NOW.

My parents choose to go to the grocery store to buy everything.
And when I say grocery store, I mean craptastic Wal-Mart.
And they live about 10 miles (15k) from town.
What will the world be like in 10 years?
Will quality food be available at grocery stores in rural america?
Is it even available now? Um...no, not really!
How much will gasoline cost in 10 years?
Or heating fuel? Will our whole neighborhood be empty
because people cant afford to stay warm in the winter anymore?

If you are thinking about planting your own forest garden,
you have tapped into the mentality of long-term thinking.
For starters..planting a Pine Nut tree that wont give you one tasty
kernel until 8-10 years after you lovingly plant it.
Or planting a hickory tree that will be only 50% its mature size when your
grandchildren are adults. Thats long-term, at least for humans.

So I had a shift in thinking. I have to do this for my parents too.
I want them to be able to save money on groceries and enjoy
the "fruits of thy labor" so to speak...we can't assume that things
will be peachy-keen in 10 years (as if they are peachy-keen now!).
And at least this way, they can use the saved money on food for travel
or saving up for a rainy day. Why spend so much on inferior food anyways?

After spending a week in the garden and eating food grown with love
& picked seconds before, the idea of going to whole foods (ahem...whole paycheck)
and spending hard-earned money on food shipped from California
and grown by strangers becomes WAAAAAY less appealing.

I still do it though, I have to. Because I didnt think about all these
issues until a few years ago, I still have a long ways before
I can be fed almost completely by my own space.

Speaking of that...here are some pics, and drawings for next year.

This was taken probably in early Spring 09.
Can you see the border? Click on the pic for more details.
I love that we are at a cul-de-sac. 1.8 acres, or .75 hectare.
That doesnt include the sides of the road, which I planted with
clover and wildflowers anyhow, so that counts of course.

So this is what Im hoping the place will look like in 20 years...LOL.
I have to dig a pond into the eastern slope next May,
and I have to plant all the big border trees next year as well.
KP= Korean Pine Nut Tree...ESSENTIAL.
SH= Shagbark Hickory
NP=Northern Pecan (im crossing my fingers that it will work here)
and W is for the good ol' Black Walnut.
You need nuts and seeds for long term sustainability thru the winter.

Im growing in a pretty cold place. It can get to -40 (F and C)
sometimes, but usually it will dip no lower than -20 or so.
Still, its cold, and it limits what I can grow outside.
But luckily there are great people out there pushing the envelope
with hardy species that make sustainable living in one place feasible.

There is no better time to start your own food forest.
All the online resources and online vendors like
Oikos Tree Crops, One Green World, and St Lawrence Nursery
make it totally possible to get whatever plants we need to make
our space of love thrive with food, life, and energy.

Im a little bummed that I have to cut down some poplars
(a pioneer tree that precedes oaks in a hardwood forest).
However, these trees will be replaced with very productive trees
that will feed wildlife and humans, and whatever I cut down
definitely goes right back into the soil so nothing is wasted.

I hate cutting down trees though, especially after learning that
they are each sentient beings. They are probably trembling right
now because they know Im thinking about them! Im serious!

Will I live here when Im 50? I dont know. At least its planted.
I will make sure that it stays in the family somehow,
and if I head to a warmer spot and build another, it is meant to be.

I LOVE this place though...words cant describe.
Who lays awake at night thinking about mulching and planting clover?

Im driving back there in 3 weeks so Ill be super excited to see how
everything is looking, and Ill be even more excited when I can see a
more updated satellite photo with more things done. Hopefully by next
summer there should be something new up.

An even older pic...but just imagine what this will look like
with everything planted and built.
See all those white trees? Those are poplars. Yikes.
I promise to only remove what I have to,
and will leave every oak and birch alone.

For the greater good....

Start drawing out your space of love...Like now. Like yesterday! NOW!