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davidburkey
By davidburkey on Sun, Mar 30, 2014 - 11:22am

My wife and I are in our mid 50's and still have very busy and well compensated careers.  Our kids are both in college and can see a time when we will want to transition out of our demanding professions.  We envision joining and supporting a community with younger people in a farming/outdoor/educational type environment.  We fully recognize, although in very good health, that starting and maintaining a farm is beyond our physical abilities and we don't want to transition into a 70 hour/week job(we already have that). We have the idea of supporting younger couples in their dreams of a resilient lifestyle while benefiting in being surrounded by a younger group and more dynamic group.  Beyond financial resources, my wife is a master gardener and we have actively moved ourselves towards this kind of lifestyle for years.  Any experience or insight about this approach?

10 Comments

Jim H's picture
Jim H
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 8 2009
Posts: 2379
An intentional, farm centered community

David,  My wife and I sound very much like you two...  and I have talked at least peripherally about this kind of idea here before.  It would be my dream to someday become part of a small group of investors who have a similar vision.  My own mental meanderings include the following thoughts;

1)  A location, possibly but not necessarily in the US, in a State that is at least reasonably balanced between economic freedom and Gov't/regulatory/tax/gun tyranny.  No doubt I will be leaving NY State someday...

2)  Land carefully purchased in an area not too close to any urban center, with good access to water, etc.

3)  A design that includes free standing individual homes, not large ones, but green ones, that circle around some shared utilities, possibly to include:  tools and equipment, shared heating utility (could be geothermal, wood burning, etc), solar, aquaponics, banquet facility, etc.

4)  Adjacent farm plot, areas for chickens and/or other animals.  

The idea I have that really coincides with your thoughts David would be that some of these houses would be built to offer at low/no rent to young couples interested in farming, as you say.  Profit sharing could be worked out.  Were some of these folks to be ex-military, and able to add value on security issues.. all the better.  

Feel free to PM me if any of this sounds interesting.. Thanks, Jim

     

davidburkey's picture
davidburkey
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: May 4 2012
Posts: 2
An Intentional, Farm Centered Community

Thanks Jim for your quick and positive reply!

I suspect their are a lot of people like us that are looking for alternatives to the next phase of our lives.  We have are committed to an area Fryeburg, Maine for a multitude of reasons including living and working in Portland and have a camp in that area. We are actively looking for land and do have some younger couples that are interested in joining in on a project if we can find an agreeable site.  I can't believe we are the first bombers who have thought about doing this and wondered if there is any experience out there in this regard.  It is impossible to be the first bomber to do or think  anything unique simply based on the mass of bomber humanity that has come  before us!  

Your ideas sound similar to ours.  I grew up in NY and know what you mean about not wanting to retire there.  If we were to retire anywhere outside of the US it would be Costa Rica.  Very stable, no military, Ex pat friendly, lots of water and natural resources and the most eco minded economy in the world.  

Lets see if there are other responses.  We can't be alone.

Dave

 

jtwalsh's picture
jtwalsh
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 1 2008
Posts: 263
Future Neighbors

            Having tried intentional community life before I am not sure my wife and I would want to go down that road again.  However, we would have some useful information about the same and some experiences to share.  Intentional community life is certainly possible and can be a very good thing.  It is a lot of work and is not for everyone. 

            We are a little older than you folks and already have five acres with a house. Our place is in New Hampshire about thirty-five miles away from Fryeburg.  We are still working full time, living mostly in the city, but I am in the process of attempting to create a garden that could support us,  as well as setting the place up to be able to operate off the grid.  I am hoping the New Hampshire place will eventually be a combination retirement/homestead.

            I would love to meet and/or have online discussions about the future in northern New Hampshire/western Maine.  Even if we are not up to joining an intentional community, having like minded  neighbors in the area would be a wonderful thing.

JT

Jim H's picture
Jim H
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 8 2009
Posts: 2379
Intentional community

JT.. thank you for your post.. I recall someone here at PP.com writing about their experiences in intentional community.. not sure if it was you.  For the project I outlined above, I would imagine something more like a condo association... the idea being that residents would have a high level of autonomy, while enjoying the efficiency of some shared infrastructure/assets.  I don't imagine going full commune/co-housing where folks cook together on a shared cycle, etc... just sounds too difficult. 

What do you think comprises a happy medium in terms of shared vs. separate?  Thanks, Jim  

   

greendoc's picture
greendoc
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 23 2008
Posts: 131
In the same boat....

My husband and I are in a similar place to...early 50's demanding work lives, looking to shift to something more sustainable, but still have a freshman in high school at home.  We were involved with a cohousing group almost twenty years ago for three years and left 17 years ago when the piece of land we were to build on fell thru.  That community eventually did build something, but it took ten years and meanwhile we got established on almost 1/2 acre in a small rural neighborhood three miles from town and did not want to leave.  I think the co-housing model has a lot going for it, but does take a certain temperment and level of expectation many would not be cut out for.

We are several years away from making any dramatic change, but in my spare time I do troll the farm real estate listings in Northern CA/Southern OR.  Most farms way out of reach and too large anyway or tooled for monoculture/traditional big Ag style farming.

I know there are definitely agrarian minded millenials out there looking to partner up with older folks with money/land but not necessarily the time and energy to develop property. 

There are some resources online to help link retiring farmers with no descendants with younger farmers with no land. I see the current farm opportunites are for the midwest, as this program is adminstered thru Univ of Iowa.  But there are individual state programs to explore as well.

http://fieldguideforbeginningfarmers.wikispaces.com/B.+Access+to+Land

This is probably attractive to younger farmers since alot of the infrastructure (barns, fencing, irrigation, etc) already established.  If you had bare land to develop from scratch might be more difficult to find a good match. 

And there is a growing movement to match urban/suburban landowners with farmers.

http://www.wbur.org/npr/164955205/kind-of-like-efarmony-matching-farmers...

 

As for finding farmers,  we have here locally (sonoma County, CA)  the young farmers guild. http://www.farmersguild.org/index.html

It seems to be a great organization partnering with Grange Halls and local farming community to help pass on knowledge, skills, etc. Hopefully it will catch on nationally.  You could also try the local Transitions Group if you have one.  Best of luck with this one, keep us posted.

http://transitionus.org/.

Claire

 

 

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 1148
Farming anyone?

we've farmed for generations, all our family's history. I farm almost 3 times the state average in VA, and slightly above the national average. we have time,tools, experience and equipment. No we're not selling any land but would thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to help anyone anyage of  "PP'r" attitude and world view.

send a PM, robie,husband,father,farmer,optometrist

Oliveoilguy's picture
Oliveoilguy
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 29 2012
Posts: 578
Growing from the ground up

Our model is different in that we are building what we can on a scale that my wife and I can manage. I am 62 and she isn't far behind in age, but we are both in great health due in part to hard outdoor work. 

I guess my point here is that it might not be necessary to have young people to do physical labor for you if you work smart and keep your scale manageable. We are starting small, and first feeding ourselves and trying to plant slightly more than we need to see if a market will develop. 

I have a successful construction business and work 30-40 hour weeks, but on the side I am building our commercial micro-farm which will be my retirement occupation. We have a 1/4 acre garden high fenced for deer, and another smaller patch plus an aquaponics greenhouse that is 40' x 32'. We have started local sales. Right now we have four 100' rows of asparagus in full harvest. We get about 5 lbs per day.  Potatoes are up, we have salad greens, broccoli, and green onions ready,  and blooms on the two 100' rows of sugar snap peas. Since we still have outside income, I actually don't hesitate to give away produce to our neighbors if we have extra that doesn't sell.  People are starting to request our products and we have an email letter that we send out with our weekly harvest.  

I don't plan to kill myself doing this. We have a 5' tractor mounted roto -tiller and use other tools like a seeder and wheel hoe. We plan to do more in the aquaponics house since it is more efficient and less labor intensive, and we can extend our lettuce into the warmer months.

Our community is our neighborhood but we choose to have privacy on our place. We are members of WWOOF and we still take apprentices, but we like independent living. 

thc0655's picture
thc0655
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 27 2010
Posts: 1513
We're interested

We're interested, but if it was not in New Hampshire we'd have to be dislodged from the choice we've already made about that.

Tom

ferralhen's picture
ferralhen
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 151
hi i've lived in a condo for

hi

i've lived in a condo for 20 years before i build my homestead. the thing about community livng of any sort is just one person can make the whole lot miserable , so keep that in mind.if you know 3-4 other couples that you have know for over 40 years, then i think something might work. unless things are real dire, i don't see people coming together all that well.  you might have a starting group that works but down the road people move, die...remarry ....ie changes. then the balance might not be there as it once was.

i have 14 acres, and  am a single woman, 61, even with the cancer, i rototilled a 50 x 50 garden yesterday. so it can be done. hindsight suggests maybe 2 acrea is all that is necessary.it's alot of work. but i love it here.

i hear a lot of what others are seeking is a retirement community. i live now in a farming community (a small town not an actualgated commuity)and when the farmers get old, they either farm til they drop in the fields, or they sell out and go live in the retirement center.''

it still seems like wishful thinking that all these young folks are going to take care of us. i see paying for help as the answer. someday i will hire the rototilling done for me. and eventually i will just shop at the farmers market.

that said, i enjoy hearing what others are thinking and doing.

ferralhen

 

jcat3022's picture
jcat3022
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: May 9 2012
Posts: 78
One of the other PP posters

Turned me on to this place in WV - www.broomgrass.com.  I believe he's purchased land there & is building.  My wife and I are in our 30's and are expecting our 2nd over the summer.  So for now we're renting but keeping our options open.

i find the whole concept of the planned community fascinating & something I could see myself in for decades.  My wife on the other hand would need some convincing.  Any way, check the website out.  Just pristine in every regard.

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