More for those bit by the Corona-Induced Homesteading Movement: today we’re talking about how to access
Beg, steal, or borrow it — three farm examples:
One small family farm we know intimately grows pretty much all its food, and makes a big chunk of its income, on land more than half of which is borrowed. How? They asked the neighbors. There was land sitting idle, and they got permission to begin using it. Some investment was made into (mostly temporary) improvements, but it was a lot cheaper (and faster) than holding out for land they could buy. So what if the land they are building fertility on isn’t theirs by deed? They could have waited a long time to get started if they had to have ownership first.
Another local family raises beef, poultry, their vegs, and sometimes pigs on their own few acres supplemented by another twenty neighboring acres that lie unused because the local electric company owns them. They use temporary electric fence to pasture half a dozen cows on grass that was previously rank and weedy, but now is green and lush. Don’t ask, don’t tell —
Our own home farm was such a wreck when we bought it that its sixteen acres and a house had gone begging on the market for six months before we bought it, even though the asking price was just $11,000. Our friends thought we were crazy, but if you’re not too proud to buy something really ugly, there are lots of rejected acres that are just waiting for someone to dust them off and give them some polish.
Ultimately, we need to remember that 1) there is land all around us and under us, and that 2) a whole lot of it is only valued as a speculation — as potential money some time down the line. Meanwhile, there it sits. Use it. Ask if you must, but if it’s just empty land and the owner is far away, unknown, and probably just mythical anyway, where’s the harm of improving the fertility of the soil with some judicious composting adn grazing? Our largest farm orchard is on a piece of roadside actually owned by the township, but only accessible from one of our pastures. Sure, the trustees could decide to cut them down, but meanwhile we’re harvesting apples, pears, peaches and berries that no one can take away.