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another interesting land situation

Posted: July 29 2009

Editor's note: As always with these types of opportunties -- all land comes with baggage--sometimes its toxic legacy, sometimes is family drama, sometimes its degraded soil.
Thomas Jefferson himself got onto a plantation that was fiercely degraded- he spent the first four years building back the soil, supporting his efforts with off-farm income. So, land-beggar beware. Do your research, don't burn any bridges behind you, and keep your exit strategy in case things go sour.
In any case:
I'm a 54-year-old artist woman living in central Minnesota with roots in coastal NC, and with a small farm, a ragtag trio of aging or crippled broodmares, a half-broke but kind-natured work horse, a falling-down renovation project of a hundred-year-old farmhouse, a nice Arctic Cat 500 ATV, a brand new beautiful horse barn with art studios and workrooms in it, some stocked with basic woodworking tools, ten acres of decent hayfield, five acres of oak savannah, four and a half acres of farmstead, a half-acre of organically grown garden on top of what had been a cowyard for a century, a stunningly beautiful 10-day old Friesian crossbred colt.
I'm in a peculiar and not particularly pleasant situation with regard to farming, but I'm still full of hope and zeal that this place will work out and become wonderful one day. I've done a lot, but it's just coming too slowly, considering my advancing age and what it's bringing along in that package. I am on my own trying to get this place up and running, which I've been working at for nine years now, with minimal success.
I'd ultimately like to have Sparrowcroft become a CSA producing organically grown (uncertified!) strictly heritage and non-GMO vegetables, collecting seed and working the large plots with horses. I'd like to do poultry as well, using chicken tractors in my horse pastures and to keep the ticks and grubs down in the yard. Unfortunately my health keeps getting in the way, and solo, this is just not working out very well. There is just too much to do for one person and the occasional reluctant teenaged boy or visiting dude husband unwilling to take orders from a woman.
I've been thinking more and more that I need to get some other person or people living on this farm with me. I've come across what's known as the guerrilla agriculture movement,which seems to be biggest where you are in my home state of North Carolina, where you have initiated this cool new way of building agricultural community known as Crop Mobs. I can't find anything like it up here where the Yankee way of doing things is "grit your teeth and bear it," and "don't let 'em know if you're having a good time."
If I were a real CSA operating from a platform of great experience and were a master gardener, I could offer internships etc., but that is something I am far from qualified to do, as I am a beginner farmer myself although my hair is going grey.
Nobody can tell me, though, that there aren't several young people without land someplace who wouldn't love to be farmers and live on a farm and work their own or shared plots and help out in a collective way, sharing equally in the products and taking over the care of the place when I have to be in Canada or off on a mural-painting job somewhere.

Do you have any ideas of how I might begin trying to locate these mythical people? It would be so nice to share this place, its work and its produce, with a few like-minded others and not be so hopelessly isolated. It would be good for my boys, too, to interact with hip young people interested in sustainable agriculture and everything that idea carries with it, and I have fantasies of cooking breakfast for a gang and sitting around the woodstove making music in the evenings. It would also be nice to have someone to help me train my horses and to go for horseback rides with in the cool of the evening. I'm afraid to go alone as I snap bones like kindling every time I fall off.
I'd sure enjoy some input if you have any to offer.

dee.vriesen.studios at gmail.com