Hej dear friends!
Before we tell you what we’ve been up to in the last few months, we’d like to wish everyone a (late) happy new year and hope that it will be one filled with happiness and good health!
The last few years have been extremely challenging for most people on this little blue globe of ours and with ever increasing control over our lives from governments and their overlords around the world, we are happy to be doing what we’re doing. We moaned about the state of the world and where it was going for long enough and bored many friends with it, until one day finally one of them said “well, how about you do something instead of just talking about it!” (thanks Hods). He was so right and it certainly helped trigger something within us that had been stirring for a while, but didn’t dare to come out and express itself. We are humans and humans have their limits and that limit was well and truly reached in 2019.
The path we’re on is perhaps not for everyone, but for us it was the best choice we’ve ever made. Sure it wasn’t always easy and things certainly didn’t always go the way we wanted it to, but the decision to close up shop and take a drastic turn in our lives has turned out to be better than we could’ve ever hoped for.
On the homepage of our website you can see the quote of Ghandi who said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world” which is what we try to remind ourselves of on a daily basis. For example, growing healthy (aka natural) food. We’ve known for a long time what toxic chemicals, many of which are carcinogens, get put in the food we eat, whether directly (preservatives, artificial sweeteners/colouring etc.) or indirectly from practices such as insecticide/herbicide sprays. The obvious alternative would be organic food right? Most of you will know that this usually comes with a hefty price tag, mainly due to the reason that organic food growers have to put up with much more rules and regulations than say a company like Nestlé. Not only that, but there’s actually a silent war on these types of farmers for doing the right thing and trying to stay true to natural products as nature intended them to be. We highly recommend the film Farmageddon if you’re interested to find out more about this.
And even if you ignore the price of organic food, how organic is it really? If you sell organic apples with a plastic cover over the box, is it still organic? Not to us it’s not.
The more you learn about the state of the food industry, the more you get closer to the truth, which is that if you really want to know what’s in your food and make sure it’s organic, grow it yourself!
We’ve already touched on what we did this summer regarding growing food and now the plan is to expand, expand, expand! We don’t have a huge piece of land (about 820 m²) which is partly covered by the house and garage and not all of it gets the sun, so we have to be smart about it. We already have a nice large greenhouse and have started to extend our outside growing patch (more digging!), but we’re really getting to the stage of thinking to ourselves, ‘do we need all this grass, or did we come here to be self-sustainable’?
The decision was made quickly; we have a big field of grass next to our land owned by the commune where we can lounge all we like (and get eaten alive by mosquitos), so the grass on our own land will get dug up wherever we feel we need to for more growing. Or we will build raised beds, which would be preferable, but more costly as we need to buy wood (unless we use pallets, but it’s much more work) to build the raised beds and lots more earth to fill them. It would save some backaches though and also keep some veg/fruit from spreading their roots all over the garden (strawberries, mint, some root vegetables etc.).
The insulation we plan to have in the greenhouse during the cold months is arriving in a week and in the meantime we have started to use one of the spare rooms in the house as a growing room. The first things we planted were the herbs. It’s quite pricey to buy fully grown herbs here and there’s also not that much choice, so most of these that we’re growing indoors will stay indoors under our full spectrum LED growing lamps throughout the year, especially the sensitive ones. But others that are more hardy to low temperatures we’ll let grow outside during summer and take some cuttings inside for the winter months (do you see how we don’t talk about spring and autumn? They’re pretty much non-existent. There is definitely a huge difference between say December and March, but it’s still winter to us).
There are also several chili and tomato plants that we started growing inside (very early!) as testers to see if they will be able to withstand the conditions of the soon to be insulated greenhouse. There they will be growing under HPS lamps since these also provide heat when switched on, thus adding to the warming of the greenhouse. They don’t have full spectrum bulbs like the LED lamps do though, so you have to have different bulbs for the seedling stage and for the ‘flowering’ stage. We’ll find out how that goes soon enough, but for now everything is super happy inside under the LED lights.
Speaking of light, our plot of land had quite a few large trees surrounding it, blocking a lot of sunlight. This really affected some areas on the growing patch since the summers here are rather humid and some veg just rotted away. We got these trees taken down by a pro, since they were close to the house and didn’t want to take any risks. It was a good decision, since one of them was dead and a good storm could’ve blown that over and caused a lot of damage. Another was starting to rot on the inside which meant it would’ve died eventually and wouldn’t have provided much firewood. Now there’s a large pile of wood under an even larger pile of snow to be chopped up, as we were too close to winter to get everything done. But that’s ok. According to the pros, if we chop the wood by Easter, it’ll be dry before next winter.
We also paid a visit to our commune to ask about raising chickens. If we don’t take a rooster, we need to make sure that we have approval from our neighbours that live directly next to us. If we do take a rooster we would need the approval from neighbours living within a 100m radius. We’ll also need to fill out a form showing a drawing of where the coop and it’s surrounding fence would be on our land and what we would do with things like faeces (there are special ways of storing this and can be used for fertilizer if done correctly). This is all because we live in a town. If we’d been in the countryside with no neighbours nearby, you can do what you want.
It’s quite pricey (SEK 2000 per hour) to have the commune verify all the information you provide them in order for them to give approval, so you better make sure you do it right the first time around. It hasn’t put us off having chickens, but it certainly isn’t going to be as straight forward as we thought it would be.
We must’ve have had nearly a meter of snowfall up till now and the outdoor winter activities are truly kicking off. Vince is in the process of getting his snowmobile licence and Caroline hit the cross country skiing tracks yesterday for the first time this year. Ski lifts are opening and outdoor ice-rinks are popping up around the area. The sun has started poking out it’s head a little bit longer each day and you feel life coming back to the town after it’s holiday season slumber. We’re off to visit some friends and have burgers on the fire in their garden in -12 degrees. Yes, it’s grilling all year round here!
Till next time!
Love from us all,
Caroline, Vincent, Amber and Fraggle
P.S. We’ve now upgraded our blog to our own official web domain https://www.destinationselfsustainability.com/
If you know anyone that might be interested in our endeavours, feel free to share it with them. Thank you!