My Dream: Becoming a Self-Sufficient City Farmer.

This post was originally published in September of 2011, and documents my initial thoughts on living  a self-sufficient lifestyle. Essentially, this is the beginning of The Sustainable Couple as you see it today.

I know what I want to be when I grow up: A farmer.

(Ok guys, just go with it. It's my pipe dream, so hear me out!)

But not a farmer like my parents. I'm talking self-sufficient, urban farming. What this basically means is; I want to grow and raise enough food on our property (a double, corner lot in the city) to reduce our need for commercially produced food, and have enough to sell to the community for a small (very small) profit.

What I call "self-sufficient farming" is sometimes called "urban homesteading" - and one of the best examples of a self-sufficient lifestyle comes from the Dervaes family in California. Visit their website. It will only take a few second to get an accurate impression of the possibilities one has with self-sufficient farming, but you'll want to spend a few hours on their site. Especially reading their blog. Seriously. You'll know exactly what I'm talkin' 'bout.

But before I talk more about what I want to be, let me tell you where I'm coming from.

This whole teaching gig is starting to wear on me. I have no free time. None. I leave for work each morning at about 6:45 a.m., and return home at night around 5 p.m. or later (if I have any after-school meetings or obligations, which is regularly). I want to start a family and spend more time focusing on my personal goals. I have my Master's, and while that was an awesome accomplishment, it's only brought me more work!

When I do get home, I have a mountain of papers to grade, e-mails to send to parents, teachers, administrators, etc. If I don't arrive home with a bag full of papers and actually have some free time, I'm too exhausted to do anything and wind up vegging out for most of the evening. I've also begun to lose faith in public education (at least at the secondary level), which only compounds the fact that I've become unhappy with how my professional life is dictating every single move in my personal life. And frankly, this is the short version of my opinions about my career in education.

If it were a perfect world, money were no object, the stars aligned, and the gods smiled down upon me, here's how this would all work - -
  1. John and I would pay off as much of our consumer debt as possible before June of 2012, leaving us only with our mortgage and utility bills. We would also have about 3 months of "Emergency Fund" money, so if something happened we could cover all of our monthly expenses. (Yeah, I know this is a LONG shot, especially considering my student loans from my undergrad. But it's my dream...lay off me.)
  2. John and I would adopt a child from foster care sometime before June 2012 (or at least be in the process of doing so).
  3. I would not renew my teaching contract for the 2012-2013 school year. 
  4. I would spend the entire summer of 2012 gardening and transforming every square foot of our backyard into usable space for produce. I would plant, tend to, harvest and preserve as much produce as possible, occasionally selling or trading produce to friends, neighbors, etc. Hopefully during this time we would also be adoptive parents, and our child would not attend daycare. 
  5. I would substitute teach about 2 to 3 days a week in the winter of 2012-2013, while being a stay-at-home mom. Occasionally our child would attend day care. We would live frugally - VERY FRUGALLY - on John's income and make conscientious, careful decisions regarding all purchases. This will be hard. Really hard
  6. Depending on our situation and if we were able to adopt a child from foster care, we will continue to be foster parents during this whole process. At the very least, we would continue to provide respite care for foster parents who need a little break. Being a stay-at-home parent would allow me to meet the needs of a child more readily. Also, due to the high costs of daycare, staying at home would save us money. (We figured that if I were to continue teaching and have 2+ children, 100% of my income would go to daycare. Crazy.)
  7. By the spring and summer of 2013, I would prepare my garden for full-on self-sufficient farming. I would sell produce from my home, at Farmer's Markets, online (like Craigslist, etc.). I would continue to be a stay-at-home mom and we would continue to be foster parents. John suggests I also provide in-home daycare, but I'm not keen on the idea.

Things we haven't worked out yet? A lot. Those are just the "big picture" ideas.

Some of you might be thinking I've lost my mind. Many of you are wondering who the hell I have become since graduating high school, college, or since I started teaching 5 years ago. I laugh, because now you know what John has to deal with every day. 

Love you, Johnny boy.

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