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Tracy: I spent some formative years as a young adult on a back to the land commune. I learned we don’t really need as much in material things as my middle class family background would have had me think. I was fine with no electricity or running water, built my own house, sewed my own clothes. We created our own cuisine based on the garden, the milk cows and the bulk food coop in town. Culture is what matters and we made a lot of our own which meant everything.
I wonder what skills and priorities did you bring from your experience? Do you have enhanced social skills, or more practical knowledge?
Wonderful idea! However, beware of taking too much responsibility. I would ask neighbors to also provide indoor and outdoor space so as to rotate the venue. Have liability waivers. I agree academic study is not the point, especially with mixed ages. Make it about games and stories and running around. Show clarity about what these activities will consist of. There are so many things you all could do! If I were a parent there I would love this. Set some standards about participant interaction based on non-violent communication ideas. This could be mainly by example and holding a clear intention, rather than by making overt rules. Great community-building plan! Also will help to hold an intention of always listening and being flexible. Then the intelligence of the whole group, adults and children, can emerge in amazing ways.
This is a permaculture holy grail. For chickens the best thing I have seen is to plant a fruit and nut orchard for the birds. It takes about 5 years for your Elderberries, Hazelnuts and other trees and shrubs to mature. Chickens are forest birds and do not like an open sky above them, so a food forest is perfect for them. I have seen another good trick done on the ground between orchard trees, and that is sowing grasses and ground covers like clover just before a rain or under irrigation to quickly grow fresh greens for the birds. You can shift the birds between several enclosures to allow the greens to grow big before putting them in there. Also putting chickens on pasture works well, and is excellent for soil. They have to be in a moveable enclosure, so when an area is exhausted, you can quickly move the chickens on to fresh forage. They eat a lot of insects as well as grass. Breeding black soldier flies is another technique for chicken feed. Also spoiled or leftover food from restaurants can be collected and piled up for chickens to eat. Grass clipppings from mowing are good. The same sorts of feed can keep pigs, along with other spoiled or extra foods, like excess milk from a cow dairy. Holistic planned mob grazing is a way to keep cattle without bought-in feed of any kind; but it has to be carefully planned on a yearly basis; and the cattle have to be moved frequently. Overall, planning, attention and time are required to substitute for dollar bills at the feed Store. If animals are processed on site, or in the neighborhood, lots of healthy pet food can come out of that. Not everything has to come from one farm. A group of collaborating farms in an area offers lots of great efficiencies.