Homegirl Homesteading

Reader Contribution by Amanda Wunderlich
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If you would have told me ten years ago that I would be living on a farm in Arkansas and making my living that way, I would have told you you were crazy.  Growing up in California, I had no idea where Arkansas was.  True story, before looking at a map, I thought it was further east of Tennessee.  My partner Paul volunteered on a CSA farm in Northern California, and always dreamed of doing that one day.  With land prices in California so high, it was more of a pipe dream than anything else.  

We went to Arkansas with our infant son Oliver in 2005-ish to visit some of Paul’s family.  Little did we know then that within the next six to seven months we’d be selling everything we couldn’t pack into suitcases and moving to the Natural State.  At our first rental house, we dug two rows for planting food.  We over planted it, but did it ever produce.  That was all it took, Paul and I were hooked. Our second rental was five acres outside of town.  From there we expanded from two rows to over 2500 sq. ft. of garden space.  We sold items such as lettuce mix and basil to local restaurants, and tomatoes and okra to our neighbors from a table in our driveway. Now at a different farm again, we really dug in and are taking our farming exploits to a whole new level, starting with our lifestyle change. Our house is less than 600 sq. ft.  It has no running water, and solar electricity.  Now, it’s not to say we are without modern conveniences, there is a shower with hot water next door in an out building that was just built, but our toilet is a composting toilet, which is a nice way of saying outhouse.  

When we were first moving here I was nervous about it all, but I have to say that being “Off the Grid” and living on the edge of the city limits has been a very freeing experience.  Farming has made me appreciate the simple things, like fresh air, and seeing a hawk fly by. Amazing things that too many of us dismiss because we’re too busy.  Hopefully the pictures I share will make you hop the first plane out to come and volunteer with us, and learn to enjoy the simple things too.

This is a portion of the field we work.  

This is our youngest son Isaac holding some of his favorite things in the world.

Why WWOOF works, well because without the help of the volunteers from the WWOOF program, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.  Starting out in a venture like this, money is some sort of fantasy object, so free help is the best kind of help!  Over the 2011 season, we had over 40 volunteers through the WWOOF program, dubbed the WWOOF-pack.

Could not live without the straw bale solar greenhouse that we constructed in Fall 2010.  This is a picture of the WWOOF-pack applying stucco to the inside of it on a cold winter/spring day in 2011.

Gotta love heavy spring rains that flood the new greenhouse!

This is Grace, more affectionately known as G-Hock.  She was one of our first WWOOF’ers of 2011, and has come back for the 2012 season as our intern.  She was on a WWOOF tour with her dear friend, and when she got back to the realities of New Jersey and a job, she realized that farming had stolen her heart.  We’re really lucky to have her.

WWOOF’er Shiori harvesting carrots.

We’ve had a interest from several different local education programs who have brought students out to work in the fields.  We are really excited to share with the community what we do.  It is so wonderful to see students enjoy this kind of work.

Not only do we want to inspire the youth, but the more experience as well.  Our garden guru came to teach a class to a group of master gardeners.

Our oldest, Oliver helping with the harvest.

To make a long story short, we LOVE farming!  Want to know how much?  Visit my blog www.2greenthumbs.wordpress.com to see more pictures, and more organized thoughts.