We’re Evan and Judith, a husband-and-wife partnership living in a small house in Portland, Oregon. We are trying to grow and make things and carve out a good life for ourselves that hopefully doesn’t hurt or impede on the lives of those around us in the process. Together we have created a little urban homestead that we love and hope will produce a lot of healthy food for us. Though we each currently maintain fulltime jobs in the city, our goal is to someday work a modest piece of land in order to provide as much as we can for ourselves using our own capabilities, time, and effort.
How did you get started with your blog/Instagram page/etc.?
We started our blog and Instagram account in June of 2014, about one year after purchasing our home in Portland. Our goal was simply to document our attempt at learning to grow some of our own food and live a more self-reliant lifestyle. We created our blog to join in a global community of homesteaders and their useful and inspiring conversation.
For as long as we can remember, we’ve each been interested in living a slower, simpler existence where we are actively involved in the process of growing and making more of what we need to subsist. When we bought our home, we finally had the space we needed in order to begin doing these things more regularly and, as we worked together to renovate and put infrastructure in place for gardening and homesteading, we realized that we wanted to find a community of like-minded people to exchange ideas with around homesteading and self-reliance.
Have you always been growing your own food? If not, what sparked your passion?
We haven’t always grown our own food, but we have both had an individual interest in gardening and farming since we were very young. We both have roots in farming, and each participated in a family garden when we were growing up. As we each have gotten older together, our interest in growing our own food expanded beyond our individual family pastimes to include the environmental, social, health, and philosophical aspects, as well.
We fail at things all of the time, and we’re beginning to realize that failure goes hand-in-hand with doing more things for oneself. We can’t be experts in everything, or even many things, but homesteading has given us the opportunity to try to do a lot of things on our own. The first time Judith tried to make fermented pickles with our cucumber harvest last year, for example, they turned out to be a mushy mess of mold. When Evan started out trying to construct a simple chicken run for our future hens, it took him over six months and a couple different iterations to finish it. Then there was the time we remodeled our own bathroom, which took us just shy of seven weeks due to some serious trial-and-error and watching of YouTube how-to videos (it really did turn out pretty well, though). We just try to learn from our mistakes and try to make better decisions going forward.
We haven’t yet, at least not to our knowledge, but we’re prepared to encounter this eventually. Most people are incredibly supportive, and are interested in learning more about growing food and homesteading. One of the reasons we are committed to living as we do is that it doesn’t much threaten or impede on anyone else’s way of life. We know that there are flaws in what we do, and this lifestyle probably won’t appeal to most people, but we aren’t living this way to convince anyone else to do what we’re doing—we’re just living in a way that feels best for us.
What are some of your greatest rewards with a lifestyle such as the one you live?
The greatest reward for us is being connected to our daily life in the most physical and basic sense. Our food tastes better when we watch it grow from seed or forage it in the woods; transportation feels truly remarkable when our bodies are the engine; heat seems hotter when we have to chop the wood and nurture a spark. There is enough detail and beauty in the most fundamental and biological cycles of life to entertain and educate us for a long time.
This is going to be a boring answer, but to be honest, one of the best tips we have for transitioning into a more self-sufficient lifestyle is to keep an overall family budget that everyone agrees upon and that you all consult often. One of the biggest challenges we have faced from the onset in conceptualizing how to live a more self-reliant existence is figuring out how we’re going to support ourselves financially. We want to do more for ourselves, but this requires an investment of money for infrastructure and personal time for labor. We sometimes feel like we’re stuck in an ongoing game of tug-of-war with our day jobs and accomplishing what we need to do around our homestead. We still have a long way to go before we can rely on the homestead to support us in a way that would allow one or both of us to leave our jobs, but having a budget has been critical in moving us in that direction. What we have realized is that homesteading takes a lot of time, but also has the potential to significantly reduce our monthly expenses. As we begin to make the shift away from a system where we work for cash and then trade cash for goods and services, it has become very important for us to understand the resources we have to work with and what we are obligated to pay each month. Once we started to identify (and really think about) what our household expenses are, as well as what we want our lifestyle to look like, the easier it has become to make decisions that are in line with our overall vision.
For as much hard work and planning go into living an intentionally more self-sufficient life, it’s a truly fun and exciting way to exist in the world! We look forward to every evening and weekend, when we can turn our attention back to the simple, basic projects we need to complete to live well. When we’re working on projects around the house and garden, it requires us to employ our intellectual, creative, and physical selves, which truly feels fantastic.
What are your favorite plants to grow in the garden?
We love growing plants that seem to thrive in our space and climate: a wide variety of greens (kale, chard, arugula, lettuces, et cetera), carrots, beets, peas, beans, and all sorts of summer and winter squashes. We’re also very excited to be growing many different kinds of herbs and flowers, which add color, texture, and aroma to our garden. We’re studying the value of pollinators, too, and love adding new plants that will attract them to our yard. Someday soon we want to take a class or classes about soil science, as well, to more fully understand the value of good dirt.
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