The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Homesteading Qualities, Part 4

IciclesWhile not essential, ties in a community will really help you out as you head back to the land.  I grew up an hour and a half down the road from where I eventually settled, but my parents are from out of state and my initial forays into the local community were met by a steady stream of "You're not from around here, are you?"

My parents moved to this area during a spate of back-to-the-land migration in the '70s, so I did end up making inroads into the ranks of back-to-the-landers of my parents' generation.  Mark --- even though he grew up in Ohio --- seems to do a much better job of gaining acceptance by normal locals though.  In part, I blame his acceptance on his parents' roots in the area --- they and their ancestors lived an hour away from our farm for generations before fleeing the mountains just as my parents were moving in.

Roots in an area are great, but I really chalk Mark's acceptance up to his ability to make small talk.  He's able to head down to the little hardware store in town and talk about the weather at great length --- the sign of a true local.  If you have to settle outside your home county, it's worth taking a little extra time to shoot the bull with everyone you meet for the first year or two.  "Sure was a cold winter, wasn't it?"

This post is part of our Homesteading Qualities lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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It also helps if you live in a community where "things" are going on. We just got back from a trip to Floyd, VA and have pretty much decided THAT is where we want to be. One look at the local free magazine with a calendar of events revealed a host of activities and opportunities to meet people. From the week-long Floydfest and the weekly bluegrass jams downtown, to sewing workshops and green building classes, there is something or other going on every weekend all summer long.

We had been fearing that we'd get lonely in a new town when there isn't a "city" to visit with lots of people around, but it seems there will be no shortage of ways to meet people in this part of rural Virginia. And, after thinking about it, sometimes it seems that it's more difficult to meet people in the city. Here we're just one couple among millions of people. We don't "talk about the weather" when we go to the hardware store because I don't think the 18-year-old clerk at Home Depot really gives a sh*t to be honest.

Have you ever been to Floyd? It seems like lots of folks like your parents moved there during the "back to the land" rush in hippie days. Most of them all left when they found out life in the country isn't as "simple" as they'd thought, but the ones who stayed are less hippie than they are farmer after 30-40 years in the country. It's the type of place where you'll see a goold ol' boy in bluejean overalls hop out of his old truck in front of the feedstore, while right next to him is a VW Jetta with a "Namaste" yoga bumper sticker. Very diverse and very friendly, so much as we could tell in three days.

Thanks for the posts!

Comment by Everett Fri May 1 15:23:03 2009
I think I've been to Floyd --- to Floydfest, actually --- but it must have been before I was driving because I'm not really sure where this memory I have takes place geographically. That could definitely be a perfect place for you two! I wonder what land prices are like there? The tradeoff I've often run into is that places with more likeminded folks have much higher prices (like the Asheville, NC, area.) For a more sociable person than me, though, the tradeoff might be worth it! I'm glad to hear you all found a community not too far away that has you intrigued.
Comment by anna Fri May 1 19:52:16 2009

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