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How I Just Found Myself Transformed Into A Farmer…Overnight!

News Flash

I have suddenly found myself transformed into an Organic Small-Scale Farmer. Well, I’m not starting a CSA or anything…yet. But, an unexpected turn of events have occurred and my family just bought a farmstead in Northern California!

Somehow, I have gone from managing 1/10th of an acre in the city to managing 14 acres of organic land.

I KNOW!!! Right?!

Now this is not just any ordinary farmstead. It has been a fully organic farmstead  since 1892 but fell into disarray about 15 years ago. The owner was elderly and had not used it for production for at least 15-20 years. And although she let the place go a bit, she always kept it completely organic with her homegrown food. It has an interesting history which I will go into greater detail in a later post.

The farm (14 acres) was probably going to be broken up into pieces and sold for home building with no regard for the orchards and lovely edibles growing there. We didn’t want to see that happen because we own the property next door. So….My family bought the farmstead…and now I am the acting farm manager – coordinating all efforts from afar with lots of trips up to the property.

It is exciting and scary at the same time. This place needs a lot of work! Serious work!

We are taking it one step at a time and are planning on spending most of this year cleaning up, fixing, assessing what we have AND deciding what we are going to do with it. Lots of possibilities!

Our main goal?  To restore it to its former glory and enjoy the land and the food we can grow there. And this is a multi-generational effort which makes it all the more special.

One of the most interesting aspects of this project is discovering what is growing here.

The owner passed away and there are no records of what trees are there or what the perennial edibles are. In the small orchard alone are about 60 fruit trees (each different) which we have been trying to figure out. Upon first walking into this orchard (the end of winter), all I saw were gnarled trucks and years of neglect. These trees look about 100 years old (and probably are).

I thought there was no way this tree would bear fruit. But then…

It blossomed and is now covered in apples.

Who knows what stories these ancient trees can tell!

Each week it is like a treasure hunt as we first watched the leaves and now the fruit form. Soon we will know which are apples, which are pears, etc and we will begin testing to see which are for eating or baking.

With all these trees, we have a lot of experimenting to do! And just think of all the canning we will be doing this summer! I’m thinking of having a canning party weekend!

So our family summer has taken a different turn than we originally planned, but oh…what fun it will be to unearth the history of this place and see what we find. I plan on documenting our adventure and our trials here along with my regular posts on Urban Homesteading.

Stay Tuned! It should be a hoot!

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.