Due to their unique life off the grid, this intentional community has had to be extremely clever in how they can make money to support their homesteading. Here are some of their small farm income ideas:
Along the side of a gravel road an old farm wagon advertises pizza! Wood fired pizzas every Friday from 5-8 pm, May through October. This is just one of the homestead based businesses this family runs to make ends meet without an outside income.
The building behind the greenhouse is used on this evening as a restaurant. Note the wood fired pizza oven centered on the back wall. The player piano provides music and a chalkboard is used to announce the pizza menu available. “Bring your own plates, utensils, and beverage,” is clearly written on the chalkboard. A pizza picnic!
Al fresco dining is also available at two levels to take in the view of the gardens and pastures against the backdrop of limestone bluffs and deciduous forests.
Community Supported Agriculture
In between the indoor dining and the outdoor dining is a certified kitchen which is not only used for the pizza business but also the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from the extensive gardens. And when interns and workshops are given at the farm this is a communal eating and gathering area.
The gardens occupy perhaps two acres of land. Besides the families that live here, this garden has supported up to 30 CSA families as well. However, even though demand is increasing the cooperative has decided to cut the CSA families to 15 to not only better serve them but also to balance lifestyle desires with financial rewards for the members working the CSA.
Loft Turned Theater
The loft of the old barn has been converted to a theatre for local actors and comedians to ploy their trade on Friday evenings. It is also used for a “movie night” for the families who live on the farm. And in the winter, it again becomes storage for hay for the working animals on the farm.
Handmade Goods and Curiosities Shop
The Curiosity Shop houses the only telephone on the farm. A landline that is hooked up to an answering machine and checked daily. It also is a retail outlet for the various crafts and wares that the members of the cooperative create.
Classes, and Workshops
The cooperative also provides internship opportunities for people interested in CSA ventures. Workshops are held for horse farming and solar energy.
I asked about workshops were being planned for next year. The wife just smiled and said that they would be planning that over the winter.
Winter Is For Looking Back and Looking Forward
Winter is a time for this family to recuperate from the hectic three season schedule of greenhouse gardening, planting via horse cultivation, the intensive work of gardening for multiple families and the CSA, pizza nights, theatrical productions, workshops, interns and guests, putting up wood, and the harvest. It is a time to think about what worked and what didn’t, and to plan for the new year.
The silence provided by the great white blanket of snow that covers the north country can be therapeutic, not only for individuals, but families. Homeschooling provides a closeness that is enviable in today’s fast paced society of after-school activities and both parents working outside the home. This family revels in that quiet time of winter.
I have been invited to revisit this cooperative farm in the spring. They will know then what their venue will be for the summer. If you have questions or comments, feel free to email me and I will try to answer them now, or then.
This is part of an off grid series, where I take you on a tour of the off-grid home without solar assist and a walk around the farm.
My hope is that you will enjoy the experience as much as I did and perhaps learn, or remember, a bit of an older/newer lifestyle.