Category: Community

Following up…. and finally, an introduction!

A while back, quite a while back I am ashamed to say, I posted about what it means to be a homesteader and whether or not you are one and don’t even know it…. you can read about it here.

In that post, a comment from one of our vendors and fellow homesteader, @bobydimitrov a vendor behind @bghandmade said this:

What I’d really, really like to see is a follow-up post in your own context – which one of the points you can check off your list, your daily or seasonal life and more photos of what looks like a great garden!

I am going to try to answer that question over a few posts, in no particular order of the first post, but as I am able based on the seasons and when I can photograph what I need to for examples.

But firstly, I believe I also promised to introduce myself in this post.

Who is Thistle-Rock?

My real name is Heather. Hello there!

I chose to call myself @thistle-rock here on the Steem platforms as it incorporates two things I do. “Thistle” because of Thistleworks Designs, the name of my shop at Homesteaders Coop and under which I have always marketed much of my work, and “Rock” for some of the art I create under rockAdoodle Art.

My husband and I live in north central Canada on the border of the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

A little confusing to some, while we live in Saskatchewan, a province that does not follow Daylight Savings Time, but we and the two nearby communities actually follow Manitoba time because most of the population around these parts works in the Province of Manitoba, who does follow Daylight Savings Time. This makes for interesting travel scheduling and conversations with people in other provinces or around the world.

photo © Heather JohnsgaardWe live on the Precambrian Shield, a place where it is not uncommon to find vegetation growing out of the nooks and crannies of the rocky earth, and which I wrote about here.

Our home is on the outskirts of a fairly remote community which is based around a mine, the product being zinc and copper plus a little bit of gold.

On the Saskatchewan side, the nearest major community from us is about a four hour drive each way.

Neither Calendar nor Dates Make the Seasons it Seems

photo © Heather Johnsgaard

Winters here appear long, usually very cold with lots of snow, and summers short. I cannot say we have very noticeable Spring and Fall seasons because by the time the snow melts, summer heat is upon us, and the snow usually hits us again by October before all the leaves have fallen from the trees. All this makes for a very short growing season outside of a heated greenhouse if you are lucky enough to have one.

Our small acreage is mostly covered with pine, spruce, poplar, birch and willow trees. Our soil is mostly clay. We need to do a lot of soil amending if we want a decent garden, or build raised beds.

Sometimes raised beds seems easier because even though we have cleared land for gardening, the roots of the poplar trees spread far and long and make hard work for tilling.

As our home is situated on the lake shore of a small lake, we draw our own source of water with a pump system (I will show that in another post in the future). We have beautiful clear water. A filter system within the house allows us to utilize the water for drinking and cooking with no chemicals required.

We do not live off-grid, and are fortunate to have power right to our house, we are not without basic necessities unless the power goes out. If the power should go out, this of course affects our ability to get our water which requires our electric pump, and also means we cannot flush toilets or run water during that time. Our heat is forced air, with a wood stove for backup or secondary heat source.

photo © Heather Johnsgaard

We try to follow a lifestyle which includes, as much as possible, zero waste, recycle, reuse, refurbish, and repurpose. I am saddened with how much waste the human race produces. The only thing I can do about it is to live a lifestyle of which I feel I am doing as little harm as I can upon the land we have been granted use of for the time we are here, and to share what I learn with others.

We try to grow our own produce, canning, preserving and freezing for future use. We make things we need when we are able, which may include tools, clothing, food, home decor and craft supplies.

Self-sufficiency with as little reliability on others as possible is a motto of our life. Sharing when we can our abundance of food or our talents and skills, and helping out our neighbours when needed.

I love the life we live, it suits my personality… I can’t imagine life any other way.

I’d love for you to follow along as I attempt to show you a few things we have done which allows us to live the life of a homesteader. Perhaps you will find some things of interest that will change the way you live too, perhaps you are a homesteader yourself and didn’t even know it!

~@thistle-rock

Introducing @Wildhomesteading – Monthly Wild Homesteading and Business Advice Newsletter

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Hello! @wildhomesteading here and this is my introduction post as a new contributor to @homesteaderscoop.

My name is Daron and along with my wife I run the website Wild Homesteading and I post here on the steem blockchain Monday through Friday. Generally, my posts focus on what I call wild homesteading which is homesteading that is focused on working with nature.

My family and I live on a small homestead on just under 3 acres of land outside of Olympia Washington at the south end of the Puget Sound about a 2 hour drive south of Seattle. Our homestead is called the Wild Ride Homestead and we came up with that name because at times our life has seemed like a wild ride.

From living in England for a year, living on opposite sides of the state from each other in order for one of us to keep a good job while the other went to school, studying sustainability in Fiji, and raising a family… it sure has been a wild ride.

But now we are settled on our Wild Ride Homestead. Which does not mean the ride is over. There are always new projects and challenges to overcome as a homesteader!

Homesteading has been a dream for us since before we were married almost 10 years ago. But we are also very focused on supporting our local environment and creating a space for wildlife. Wild homesteading is our attempt to create a life that supports both our homesteading and environmental goals and values.

I truly believe that by fully integrating the natural world with homesteading you can achieve a more resilient life that is truly free from reliance on unsustainable inputs. Nature can be your best homesteading partner if you let it.

Monthly Homesteading and Business Advice Newsletter

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So, what will I be writing about in my monthly Wild Homesteading and Business Advice Newsletter? Well the name kinda speaks for itself but here are some details.

The wild homesteading posts will be similar to what I’m writing on my own blog but with more focus on how working with nature can result in more freedom (time, food, financial, etc.) for you and your family.

Once in a while I will write business advice posts that will hopefully help you run a successful online business. Much of this advice will focus around what is working (and not working) in my own online business. These posts will also be tailored to the awesome @homesteaderscoop vendors but anyone with an online business or wanting to start one should get value from these posts.

My own business is only in its 5th month but during that time I have built an email list of just over 360 people and so far this month I have had almost 200 people visiting my site from search traffic (google, bing, etc.) alone. Last month in total I had over 1,700 unique people visit my site. In terms of getting traffic and building an email list I think things are going good for just being 5 months in!

I have been studying content marketing for a couple years now on a weekly basis and I’m happy to share what I have learned.

Thank You All!

So, I think that covers everything—I’m looking forward to contributing on a regular basis to @homesteaderscoop. The community here on the steem blockchain is really awesome and has really helped me get started. I’m hoping that by writing this monthly newsletter that I can start giving back to you all.

Also, each one of my posts on @homesteaderscoop will end with a call for topic ideas that fit within either wild homesteading or business advice.

So… what would you like to see me write about in my first full post? Please leave a comment with your idea.

Thank you all!

Recent & Upcoming Website Updates – Open to Community Feedback.

This is a summary of updates and milestones that have been recently made to our Homesteaders Co-op website, over the past month or so, followed by an outline of some of the upcoming work that may be done on the website in the near future.

We just had our first official Homesteaders Co-op open community meeting in our discord server voice chat on Wednesday. We had a lot of great discussion about the marketing challenges of our Co-op and how to address them. You’ll see more posts about that from us in the near future.

We’ve decided to hold regular voice meetings every other week for any member of our community to join and listen or participate that wants to be more informed or involved in our community effort.

In the meantime I would like to share with you a summary of website updates, milestones and goals that were covered in our meeting – with a bit more detail.

this is an update to our Fundition Project

Most Recent Website Updates and Milestones

Email Subscribers

We now have over 150 email subscribers, which is quite a lot considering all things and very telling that there is a lot of interest in what we are doing. I am being careful to send emails sparingly and reserving our emails for more important updates or announcements. Our more frequent messages are sent out in steem, our blog and social media.

If you are not subscribed but would like to, you can find our email subscription form at the bottom of our website: https://homesteaderscoop.com

Community Section

Our new community section has been created in the website. This is part of our steem onboarding program outlined in our Fundition proposal.

The purpose of this section is to: 1) provide an introduction to steem communities with real examples, 2) Demonstrates individuals of steem communities creating positive change, 3) Provides more context to our vendors as humans, and 4) Sharing a general pride for our communities.

We collectively put a lot of work into this community showcase. We are already presenting Homesteaders Co-op communityNatural Medicine community and ecoTrain community. A few others will be presented in the near future.

Logo Section

An Our Logo page was created in our website to talk about our logo and what it represents. Special thanks to @frejafri who designed our logo and can be commissioned in STEEM for custom illustrated designs!

Search Engines

homesteaderscoop.com is starting to be discovered in search engine results. In fact our store Seeds of Abundance recently had an inquiry from a customer that found our seeds from a Google search result. That is significant to me because our Co-op vendors are just starting to reach an audience outside of steem via search engines.

Steem Payments Improvements

I have recently made some updates to the WooCommerce Steem Payments Gateway open source plugin that homesteaderscoop.com uses to accept STEEM/SBD payments. You can read that update here. The plugin is becoming more robust over time and there are more updates planned in the future.

More website Backups and Better Security

I recently consulted with @eco-alex who generously offered to help us add more redundancy to our website backups and increase our website security. Thank you so much for offering us a hand and helping us achieve more resiliency for our community website. I would like to note that @eco-alex is available as a website consultant and if you are looking for help with your website you may consider his excellent service.

Our website homepage featured products are now updated on a weekly basis to match our new weekly featured products post. See this week’s featured products here.

Upcoming Website Features

Following is a list of updates I am considering making to the website in the near future. I am putting this out there now and before doing the work in an effort to be more transparent about this process and will consider any feedback from the community.

Donations Page

I plan to create a new page in the website to ask for community donations. Initially this will be through our Fundition project. However I would like to transition to pursuing donations on a regular ongoing basis as part of our effort of reaching financial sustainability. This is one option I have come up with as I consider interacting in a gift economy, which is more attractive than forcing our members to pay. You can read more about that idea my recent Funditon project update titled Why Donate to Homesteaders Co-op?. This approach is likely to evolve as our community and our marketplace evolves – anyway it would be interesting to hear your thoughts here.

Ethical Advertising

Ethical advertising is an idea I have come up with and coined as a way to pursue relationships with ethical businesses that offer value to our audience. Ethical advertising is advertising space in our website that will be gifted and/or traded to the advertisers we choose. This is in direct contrast to the dominant style of advertising we are all used to and tired of that pursues profit instead of real value and meaning. I will share more about this idea in a separate upcoming post.

Steem Onboarding Section

This upcoming page or section in our website will define steem to an audience that has not heard of steem before and is likely not familiar with blockchain. This task can be quite lofty or simple depending on the approach! I will likely be asking community for input on the approach in the near future. We will also use this area in our website to offer free accounts to anyone that wants to join.

Homepage Updates

I would like to see our homepage better represent the categories of products that are offered now by our vendors. Things have changed a lot since we started with just 3 main categories. We now offer Handmade, Natural Health, Organic Gardening, Services, Books, Food and Children related products and services.

We will also be updating the featured vendors regularly to correlate with a new featured vendor curation effort that @senorcoconut is working on.

Other Cryptocurrencies

A few folks have mentioned interest in either accepting or shopping with other cryptocurrencies. While for the most part we are pretty happy just to accept STEEM/SBD I think it is worth exploring other crypto options here, especially if we wouldn’t have to rely on a third party that charges some commissions or fees. At the moment this limits us to WooCommerce plugins that are already existing that accept cryptocurrency payments that we can modify to work in our multi-vendor marketplace.

Gift Economy

I would like to explore other ways of interacting in a gift economy via our website including: Tipping, Delegating Store Space to other vendors, Products by Donation.

Vendors Page Improvements

As our vendors page grows with more vendors it will be nice to sort and filter vendors by location, etc.

What Would You Like to See on our Website?

This is the perfect opportunity and time for you to share what you feel our website is lacking or what it could really use! Is there something important we haven’t thought of yet? Is there something on the list above that is WAY more important than anything else? Please let us know.

@nateonsteemit just posed the question a few days ago what products would you like to see in our Co-op and we got a lot of great feedback there.. thank you Nate and everyone who shared their comments there!

‐ @sagescrub

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We Wanna Know!

Hey y’all, I posed a question in our HSCO Forum the other day and it was suggested by @sagescrub that I make a post on the blog. (short original thread) Y’all know we’ve been working on growing our social media presence in a marketing push lately (thanks @porters and @diggndeeper.com), and we all wanna know something from you:

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What do you want to see for sale at Homesteaders Co-op?

There’s a bunch of implications in that and a bunch of subsequent questions, but it all boils down to “what will you buy if you see it for sale here?”

What products will attract customers to this market? What can you do to supply the products you see recommended in responses here? What can we do to supply them?

  • Vendors (and everyone really) would all do well to pay attention to answers here. If you see something recommended here, that’s a quantifiable demand that you may be able to meet.
  • Contributors, we should be watching these responses and bearing them in mind. We may encounter someone out there in our journey that can help meet these market demands.
  • Customers, we need you! Without you, this place is literally worthless. What good is a grocery store chock full of goods if nobody is buying? You are the economic engine. You provide the demand and the market and we need to hear from you! Pay close attention too! Someone may need something that you could list here at the Co-op and sell.

So what do y’all wanna see here? What would you spend your money on? What products would motivate you to be a buyer?

@bobydimitrov says he wants more seed vendors in the EU!

@sagescrub wants to see more seeds, more natural medicine, more homemade clothing, basketry (someone tell @mountainjewel), leatherwork (where’s @armadilloman?), knives (@digitaldan, you see this?), and other handmade goods!

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Can you provide any of that? There’s clearly a demand for all of it. What do you want to see here? What can we do to earn your business?

We wanna know! We need to know! We love you all!

Be blessed.
Be fruitful.
Stay relevant.

Nate


@nateonsteemit is a budding permie in North Texas. Family man and welder by trade, his goals inside permaculture are the advancement of Liberty and saving a few bucks. Check his intro to the Co-op here.

Homesteady Helpers: HSCO Plankton Support and Curation Initiative

Hey y’all, Nate here with a new project we’re developing. Lots of stuff going on at the Co-op here lately as you’ve likely noticed! Let’s get to it!

This is an update to our fundition project.

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Part of what we’re doing here at Homesteaders Co-op (besides trying to rethink the internet retail economic model) is focusing on new steemians and helping them get established. We put a lot of stock in supporting people in our community because we understand that more active people on the chain makes it stronger, more valuable, more sustainable, and more appealing to other potential users. While we’re particularly supporting people in the#homesteading#permaculture#sustainability, and related communities, these actions will benefit the entirety of Steem.

Our grassroots efforts here started organically and early in the Co-op’s story. At first it was just a simple “hey, how are ya, check out what we’re doing” campaign, and has morphed into a more organized community project with more formal welcome comments from our contributors, dedicated discord channels, and movements that are nothing short of community rally cries where we all swarm lovingly to support new folks. It has also meshed into our efforts to make delegations to new folks and to offer access to free and instant steem accounts that we can provide to folks.

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This newsletter is an update and explanation of our mission and progress on that front, as well as a curation of the accounts we’re supporting.

At the time of this writing, the newbies we delegate to are @nancymoral@rainbow.snake@thunderox@homegrownstables@ekawaediw@stanmr@warfsterveld@tarahgreen@sinikka@circulartimes@hippygirlco@lizablove@bluntcrypto@winslow-home@dansgardening, and @celestethebest.

Our standard delegation is 30 SP, so there’s a total of 480 SP currently delegated from @homesteaderscoop to help new eco-conscious people on steem because our mission focuses on community, not money. We at the Co-op understand that without people, economics doesn’t work.

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That said, here’s some posts by people to support. We hope you see value in these new steemians like we do!

@nancymoral has a new son-in-law! In her post, is the short and sweet farm wedding ceremony and a montage of photos of the happy couple! Congrats from the Co-op!

@hippygirlco seems to have dug herself in on steem, and is embracing actifit! Check out the cute baby goat from a recent farmers market trip!

@lizablove is finding her niche integrating with @share2steem talking about the nine things that help her through challenging experiences! What a meaningful topic, y’all check it out here!

@dansgardening uploaded a video of Dan gardening! Today he’s growing peppers! He also talks about some of the other things he’s growing this year. Good to see new folks embracing the video aspect of steem, keep it up Dan!

Also noteworthy is @celestethebest‘s post on her rare butterfly sighting. We’ve just missed the opportunity to support it as the post has just paid out! Bummer! But she has been posting some more cool stuff, so we’ll likely get another chance to support her. 🙂

The rest of our minnows haven’t had any posts recently, so we’ll be reaching out to them to see if they’re doing okay here, and it looks like we may need to make a Co-op policy for the event that a newbie goes inactive.

So that’s what’s going on here on this end. We’re always brainstorming and developing this idea and seeing how it grows. Thanks for reading our first newbie curation and for helping us in supporting these young steemians!

Be blessed.
Be fruitful.
Stay relevant.

Nate


@nateonsteemit is a budding permie in North Texas. Family man and welder by trade, his goals inside permaculture are the advancement of Liberty and saving a few bucks. Check his intro to the Co-op here.

Voluntary Exchanges on the Homesteader’s Co-op – Interview with Ben, The Liberty Hippie, of Homesteads and Homeschools

In January I recorded a podcast interview with Ben of Homesteads and Homeschools and it was just released this week. Ben is also known as @bpangie, The Liberty Hippy, here in steem. I really enjoyed the interview with Ben. He is a good guy and a smart fellow and his podcast is doing a great service. I recommend subscribing to his podcast if you like this interview.

This is the first interview that I’ve done whose audience is not folks on steem. Although inevitably some of Ben’s audience may come from steem, many do not. And so it has been a perfect opportunity for us to get our message about Homesteaders Co-op, as well as steem, to folks that may not have heard of steem yet. I believe this interview makes a good first impression not only of Homesteaders Co-op, but also of steem.

I shared more of the background story about how Homesteaders Co-op got started and how the initial idea was born. I didn’t leave much out – so you may just learn more about our beginnings! I also shared how our steem communities have inspired our project.

I’ve transcribe the interview below for anyone that would rather read than listen. It is also nice to have this message in text format that we can use in part or in whole for our outreach efforts.

This post is an update to our fundition project

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Voluntary Exchanges on the Homesteader’s Co-op – Episode #005

Direct mp3 download
Link to episode 5 on Libsyn.

Ben: Alright so today we have Noel who runs the homesteaderscoop.com. You’ll find him on steemit under @homesteaderscoop among another name he may give you here in a little bit (@sagescrub). He is out on the west coast getting this website setup for us and he’s to tell us a little bit about that today. Its pretty interesting. I think its something we can all take something from and learn something on top of the idea of community here. So Noel, welcome to the show here.

Hi Ben, thanks for having me.

Yeah no prob, thanks for coming on – I appreciate it. What are you doing now? What’s your setup right now? You got a little bit of a garden, homestead…

Yeah, so my partner and I are in Southern Oregon and we are doing a half rent, half care taking for the property we are living on in exchange for a home and garden space. So it allows us to garden while we are looking for our long term place. I grew up in suburbia so homesteading is not in my upbringing.

I grew up in the country. I’ve lived in country and city. Suburbia is one of those things I couldn’t get a grasp on it. You weren’t close enough to have the amenities you do in the city but you’re not spaced out enough where you can enjoy a little bit of quiet and solitude. Suburbia was always tough for me. So what are you guys gardening or how big of a garden do you have right now?

Well our garden is.. how would I quantify it? Its pretty decent size but its also not huge. We are in the same spot we were in last year and we grew pretty much a little bit of everything like potatoes and carrots and greens and a lot of herbs and my partner is into flower farming and I am into perennials. Looking ahead for our future property, or even just sharing with friends I am starting a lot of trees from seed because they take so long to produce. That’s my long term focus. Short term focus is growing and wild-crafting as much of our food as we can.

Very cool. Are you guys hoping to stay in that area or are you open to moving around some?

Oh yeah we love it here because there’s a lot of like minded people and a lot of older back-to-the-landers from the 80’s and 90’s that we look up to and respect. There’s a lot of modern day hippies that live around here. So there’s a whole wide range of community that we can relate to. Its kinda funny, because I went wwoofing for a few years and I was seeking out Permaculture homesteads that I could learn from and contribute to and a lot of places that I went I was used to being the weird person or one of the few that was into Permaculture or learning about that. Where I am now people don’t look at me funny when I talk about Permaculture.

Hey you know it works. That’s good stuff. I am sure there’s a bunch of knowledge that can be had from all those folks too. Definitely when you get out there and you’re ding things on your own, having people to learn from is easier to learn from someone than a book or a youtube video.

Yeah growing up I didn’t have this sense of community that I have learned now. And even outside of this community just in general I’ve found the farming and gardening communities are just really welcoming and loving. That’s what really drove me to go in this direction is connecting to people in an industry that’s just all about love and care and nurturing, for the most part. Versus working in a corporate or desk job and you’re helping the people at the top get fatter and its all about competition and greed and scarcity.

Yeah I definitely think there’s a sense of community in terms of the farming world or agricultural world. You’re relying on yourself to get the plants in the ground and at the same time there’s help there and you can help each other. There’s the self reliance and at the same time there’s a little bit more than that. Alright so moving on to the Homesteaders Co-op. Can you tell us a little bit about what that is?

Sure. And maybe I’ll just give a brief introduction how it started. And if you want any clarification just let me know, because in regard to the Steem blockchain which is a social community platform for blogging that’s rewarding cryptocurrency…

Actually I’ll rewind a little further because what my partner and I were thinking of doing a year and a half ago we were considering income opportunities for generating income on the homestead. Actually we’ve been trying quite a few. Last year we started four or five small businesses just to throw feelers out there and Homesteaders Co-op was one of them. A year and a half ago we were thinking about the possibility of doing a paid membership website where we would teach people what we are learning about homesteading coming from a suburban background. From a perspective of someone that didn’t grow up homesteading. And so we liked the idea because we had a lot of people that were interested in – just in friends and family – in what we were going through.

At the same time I stumbled across the Steem website which I had just signed on to and realized there was this really beautiful homesteading community on there. And so I thought that would be a great place to do a proof of concept and try out some ideas before going out there and building a business and a website. And so I started blogging and it was just a really beautiful experience because I was welcomed by this homesteading community and gardening community and permaculture communities on that platform that really encouraged me. Encouraged me to grow in a lot of ways, in terms of the way I communicate and communicating more from the heart, which is really beautiful in contrast to our dominant culture which encourages you to communicate from a place of fear and scarcity. After that I realized I don’t really need to create a website because here’s this blogging platform where I feel really part of the community and really encouraged to share. And I’m already being rewarded in cryptocurrency, which is not necessarily going to make a living but its encouraging me to keep sharing. And so I did.

Fast forward another half a year later, last summer, my partner and I decided to start a seed business focused on Permaculture and wildcrafting. And a long term goal for the seed business was to share perennial seeds. The short term goal was – I mean we don’t own property, and we have a temporary garden space right now, and we were in the middle of summer. But we didn’t want to let that hold us back from starting the business and just give it a shot and throw it out there and see what happens.

In terms of working with what we had and the seeds we were passionate about, we put together a small seed catalog focused on food, medicine and beauty. And we call it Seeds of Abundance because its plants that produce abundantly through food, medicine and beauty – and also seeds. And there’s a wild aspect to it. We were really inspired by Fukuoka who wrote One Straw Revolution. And just really inspired to garden more naturally. So the seed business was inspired by that. We decided to launch it and sell it for cryptocurrency for steem currency. Because we felt encouraged by our community and we felt in a lot of ways its very idealistic – its very free. There’s no transaction fees, there’s no one taking a cut of the transaction. So we thought, well, it’s kind of like mother nature and its kinda like seeds so it goes hand in hand. And seeds are meant to be free, as far as nature is concerned.

And yeah, sorry I am rambling, but just to summarize a little more and get back to Homesteaders Co-op. I started working on that website and I have a background in web design and programming before I got into homesteading. So I dusted that off and worked on a website and found a way to accept payments for the cryptocurrency. So my partner said “Hey, all that work you put in, why don’t you share that with other people?” And I thought oh my gosh, that’s a beautiful idea because not only can I share the work I’ve done and encourage other people to sell their products in this community market format, but also… So yeah, I decide to share it and went to work on expanding it to be a marketplace for homesteaders. So that’s how the idea was born. Its actually evolved so much from there.

Yeah its definitely shaped up. I looked at it a couple months ago is when it came to my first attention and talking to you. Its grown! I remember seeing a handful of vendors on there and now there’s quite a number. Do you guys… so its not just STEEM right? I can use US dollars or is it just cryptocurrency at this point?

We started with just STEEM and then we expanded to dollars. Interesting thing about that… well our vendors are accepting PayPal or credit cards through PayPal, but originally we were just using STEEM. And originally it was going to be more of a business. I was going to charge a monthly fee in order to operate. I was considering that or commissions. But at a certain point around the time we were beta testing or shortly after that I had a problem charging a fee to vendors because first of all its going to be a while before we have a lot of sales. And I know that’s going to be money out of pocket for our vendors. And most homesteaders are on a shoestring budget so its a contradiction.

I had a big ethical dilemma early on and there’s that whole part of me that was trained for greed and profit from a young age that was contradicting the ideals of wanting to share something beautiful with a community. For a little bit there I was in a really tough spot emotionally and ideologically. Finally decided that I was inspired enough to keep working on it and give it away for free without charging commissions.

I realized that I really wanted to embody sharing this with my friends and community and see where it goes and follow the inspiration and if one day I don’t find a way to make it work sustainably, I can always charge fees later. But in the meantime, I was letting that passion for sharing drive me forward.

The beautiful thing that came out of that – a lot of things but – in terms of transactions, we didn’t have to be a middleman in transactions, so our website is basically a venue and it creates a venue for customers to find vendors and purchase a product. Once the customer goes through to purchase the product, the transaction goes through directly from the customer to the vendor. That’s both with STEEM and PayPal. We never touch that money. Its a lot more private, its a lot more secure. If our website ever gets hacked, there’s not passwords or private keys to be stolen. The vendors and customers take that responsibility on themselves.

I think its a lot more rewarding and empowering for people to transact just like they do in the farmers market because when you got to a farmers market and buy some veggies from a farmer, there’s not a market manager coming in the middle saying “Hey, hand that money over and I’ll take 3%”, or whatever, before it gets to the vendor. That’s the way that e-commerce works in the case of etsy and amazon and everybody else. They take the transaction. It makes sense because they have to be sustainable, but it creates the culture of profit being the first driving priority, which eventually evolves into a money hungry company if it grows big enough, that’s only caring about the vendors or customers that are making them a lot of money.

So for example – what we are doing helps to alleviate problems, like edge case – the little guys that are being ignored, for example we have vendor outside United States that can’t use etsy anymore because etsy stopped allowing international withdrawals by paypal. And they only make a few sales a month and so they have to use a wire transfer to get their money since they can’t use PayPal and the wire transfer eats up all their profit. So its like, there’s no point. Unless, you know, they have to look at it another way – they’re forced to get bigger. That’s what everybody does, they focus on the profit because that’s what is encouraged.

And that’s one of the things that struck me about this. More acts as a facilitator between the two different parties. It lets you do your business on your own and theres nobody gets in the middle demanding that you adhere to XYZ. That’s one of the things I thought was unique and interesting. Along the lines of decentralization and the whole idea of the blockchain and make things more personal. That’s something I really appreciate, seeing that people can actually get along and do things voluntarily and not be forced into paying exhorbitant fees just to get your own money.

Yeah there’s a lot of experimentation going on just in general in blockchain and a lot of it is really exciting because without less control and less force being in the picture, we are or we can be a lot more inspired and follow our ideals without feeling fear. There’s a lot of new territory so there’s a lot of experimentation going on and we’re glad to be a part of it. Just following that model as we evolve our community, community is following that model as well and opening up to having less control in terms of the structure and how we operate. So we have contributors that are helping to run our blog and market our community marketplace and as we go along its becoming more of a community feeling and less of a company feeling.

Part of that evolution is operating in a hybrid gift economy. We will be creating more opportunities for gifting and purchasing by donating or giving gifts away for free. In terms of sustainability we’re going to be exploring ethical advertising and gifting advertising to companies that we believe offer value to our marketplace and our customers, rather than putting whatever pays the most in front of their face and saying this is what we want you to click on. I like the idea of choosing advertisers that can offer real value and asking them to contribute something in terms of knowledge or information and we can say we really believe in what they are doing and their ethics align with our ethics. Those are all things we will be exploring in terms of different ways of feeling rewarded, compensated. Its really inspired a lot by gifting that is happening on the steem blockchain. Its very much inline with what you might see in your family or tight group of friends, gifting each other things because they love each other or they care for one another. Maybe a close group of gardeners. And we see sharing seeds and silver rounds and care packages and things like that. Its not for money – its for the joy of giving and the joy of seeing the excitement of those things being received. So we want to encourage more of that, but at the end of the day people have to make a living too. So its not like we want to live in a false world where its only ideals. Obviously there’s the money aspect, so we want to encourage both sides of things and not just be in a black and white, cut and dried world where things are all about profit.

Yeah, I think that’s something there. Because you do, you have to make money to get buy. But at the same time, you fill in little holes, whether its bartering or gifts. Or things like steemit… you said earlier you’re not going to make a living off it, but its something. Have ways to fill those little holes can be really helpful. If you go buy seeds for your garden, you’re going to drop 50 bucks, 100 bucks on seeds depending where you get them from. So if you can find a way to trade for those or get them from someone else instead of a big company, corporation that does all that. I appreciate that. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about what products they have. Homesteaders Co-op, you guys talked a little about perennials seeds, what else you got going on there?

Good point, thanks for reminding me, that’s the exciting part. Oh yeah and first of all, its an international marketplace. Like a lot of the blockchains, we are opening to crossing borders. We have over 20 vendors now in 8 different countries. Roughly half of that is in the United States. And the other half are spread across countries like Australia, Canada, Mexico, Spain –

Speaking of Spain we had a couple vendors join us that started a women’s Co-op in Spain and I was really excited to hear about it because they are all single mom’s living in an eco-village living as sustainable as possible, as close to zero waste as possible, supporting each other. But they don’t have a lot of opportunities in the local market because they live in kind of impoverished area. So they are really grateful to have a place to sell to a larger audience.

So you have people like that that are selling internationally, then you have folks that are selling within their own country. And you have all kind of mixtures, so we’re just leaving it open. The vendors specify where they ship to, how much their shipping costs are and what kind of products they offer which can be virtual downloadable products – for example…

We have one vendor in Canada that has an e-book for raising chickens and its quite in-depth e-book and its only $8 and it teaches you everything you need to know about raising chickens. And we have physical products. We have like you said, seeds, people selling honey. Actually two vendors selling honey in the United States and in Portugal. And we have a couple vendors selling naturally dyed clothing using herbal dyes – and they are really beautiful. We have someone making handmade pouches and purses and a natural wreath maker from homegrown flowers. And much more than that as well.

And we have a lot of people excited to vend as well and a lot of people are signing up. So we are growing fairly quickly. But I am also just appreciating this opportunity because we definitely want to get the word out there more, for growing more. But we don’t want to grow too big because we want to stick to the homesteaders niche, because we don’t want to be the next etsy or grow in that direction of getting as big as we can. We want to find that nice balance of growing so there’s a thriving economy, but not getting so big so that that it causes us to sacrifice our ideals.

But that’s the other thing in terms of decentralizing and being inspired to decentralize into a community effort versus a top down pyramid, I’ve been inspired to want to share our website with other marketplaces. We are still building a solid base for our website, but I’ve been looking for opportunities and the right individuals to share our website with. For example I would love to see a community driven artists co-op that is enabling artists to sell their artwork. Or a handmade toy marketplace. I am sure there’s lots of opportunities. So instead of trying to be everything, it would be really cool to enable other community driven marketplaces. And being community driven, they could really have the opportunity to thrive.

Yeah, one of my thoughts going through my head – you have the homesteaders thing, but you can break that up and share it out. Because its community based – I am sure there’s communities all over.. all sorts of things that I might not be interested in, but someone else is interested in. That’s the beauty of having it be so specific. You’re passionate about this. So if I am making basketballs, you might not be that interested in it, but someone else can do it. The community and culture can build around this. That’s what I like about the idea, the specificity of it and who it speaks to.

Yeah, it would be great to see that happen and then have a distributed network of marketplaces that are autonomous by their own communities. But even those marketplaces can form a larger community that all support each other, rather than supporting the guys at the top. It could be a more – decentralized is a good word. Its interesting because, actually before I even got into this whole stuff and several years back I was gardening, before I was into homesteading. And I was swapping seeds with my neighbor and I thought there is a really big need for a peer to peer marketplace for sharing seeds online and having different opportunities for sharing seeds out there. There’s well known seed companies. There’s a few website where people can share seeds but they’re not really user friendly or even well known. I never explored the idea but recently after putting my seeds on this marketplace and another vendor started putting their seeds, and actually some really cool seeds, and getting sales. Another vendor said they want to share their seeds and it just donned on me.. this could be that website, even though it wasn’t intended to be. It could be a peer to peer seed selling and swapping website. And I am really excited about seeing if it evolves in that direction because having things be more open is cool because the community can decide which way it goes. I am sure there’s a lot of opportunities that I haven’t even thought of yet that can come up in the future.

Yeah, lots of growth potential there. That’s exiting to watch. It will be fun to watch it grow. I wish I had the time to get involved…

But you already are! I appreciate you so much!

Yeah, no problem. So before I let you go, is there anything we didn’t get to about the Homesteaders Co-op that you want to let people know?

Oh yeah, well first of all the website is homesteaderscoop.com – that’s just one word, no dashes. And check it out because there’s some cool stuff on there. If it is interesting to you, subscribe or come back. We are going to have more vendors and more products in the future. And if you really find value in it we do have a crowdfunding page in fundition. I’d be happy to share the link for your show notes. It also outlines some of our short term goals of where we want to take it in the short term, which could be interesting to read about.

Yeah, we’ll definitely get those links in there. And I was going to ask you earlier if you have a donation page or some way to help fund it. Sounds like you do.

Mmm hmm. And that is helping to fund through steem, other cryptocurrencies like bitcoin or ether and also paypal. I am not really asking for a lot of donations right now, because right now I am feeling that we need to build this and make it really thriving and see where it goes. We’ve only been online for about two months now, but already this month – and January is not over – we’ve already made a couple hundred dollars in sales for our vendors and 100% of that goes straight to our vendors like I was saying. Its really exciting to see that and I’d like to see them rewarded more for their hard work because as most of your audience probably knows, homesteaders are super hard working and always constantly questioning what ideals they want to or don’t want to sacrifice, because at the end of the day there’s only so much time and so much money.

Most of us are homesteading because we believe in the world we want to live and lead and leave to future generations. Right now my drive is empowering and supporting those kind of people – and also getting their products and messages into the hands of people that care about it. I feel that our marketplace and the economy that we are building is not just about the products, its about the message too. We have so much to learn about – I mean… its better to focus on the solutions than the problems, because there are so many problems. There’s a bunch of people here, and probably a lot of people in your audience too, are trying to make the world a better place and doing the best with what we’ve got. That’s why community is so important, because we can’t do it alone. Yeah, that’s our message.

Good deal. I can subscribe to that. Alright, thank you!

This is an update to our fundition project: Free Community Marketplace for Handmade Goods in STEEM/SBD

‐ @sagescrub

Steem Communities Teaming Up – Promotional Video and Onboarding Steemians

A lot of positive ideas, activities and acts of generosity have been popping up around Homesteaders Co-op this last week. Among which we have been blessed with the love and generosity shown to us by our big sister community @naturalmedicine, led by @riverflows.

Those of us steemians that have been around for a while know that one of the reasons many of us stay in steem is because of our communities, aka tribes. Steem allows us to freely and naturally form and group together in tribes, satisfying one of our basic human needs.

Onboarding and Communities

One of our goals in Homesteaders Co-op, and also outlined in our Fundition project plan, is onboarding new steem members via Homesteaders Co-op. Now that we have a solid base in our online marketplace technology we are shifting gears to put more emphasis into marketing and onboarding via our community co-op.

In our last fundition update we spoke about our new logo design by @frejafri (vendor in our community marketplace and talented illustrator) who helped us create this design that will part of our first impression to steem and the rest of the world! This branding is crucial in crafting an image for our marketplace of steem humans.

Following the design of our new logo, @riverflows stepped in to create a video to promote our Homesteaders Co-op both within steem but also outside of steem. Being a contributing author of the Homesteaders Co-op blog and closely connected with many of our vendors, she is very aware of our co-op’s mission, qualities and ethics.

@crosheille describes the video:

Wow this video gave me an emotional high, like seriously! Seeing all of the beautiful, natural homegrown and homemade items almost got me teary eyed. THIS is what we need more of. Knowing I can go to a marketplace to buy wholesome things for my family just makes acquiring Steem and Sbd even more worthwhile! @homesteaderscoop is gonna change the game! I hope everyone gets with it and joins in to support their efforts!

This is the type of reaction that steemians are having when they see our new promotional video, this is the type of reaction folks have when they get to know Homesteaders Co-op’s vision, mission and ethics.

This video says it all

@naturalmedicine and @homesteaderscoop

@riverflows is a crucial member of Homesteaders Co-op community and she is the leader of @naturalmedicinecommunity. It is really perfect actually that both Homesteaders Co-op and Natural Medicine came together in the production of this video.

To have this video made as a result of two communities connecting, reciprocating, sharing, inspiring and gifting one another creates a positive intention which we can carry forward.

The intention of love is imbued in this video and will carry forward in our message to the world. And this is the message that we want to send to folks about our favorite communities on steem.

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The Gift Economy is Online at Homesteaders Co-op

Last week I updated Homesteaders Co-op with the ability for our vendors to specify products as gifts in our marketplace. You can read about it here.

Today I’ve made a new update to our website that has completely separated Shopping from Gifting.

  • Our Shop section now includes all products that are denominated in some amount.
  • The new Gifts section shows all of the gifts that are available at no cost (except shipping).
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The significance of this re-organizing

I prefer to keep products for sale separate from the Gifts. I don’t want gifts to detract from the products that are for sale. And yet I want the gifts to have their own prominence. I prefer that gifts are making a statement.

Why?

Because we are operating different than other marketplaces that prioritize profit over people. We are putting people in front of profit. A marketplace that wants to squeeze as much profit as possible out of their vendors and their customers would never encourage gifts unless they were sure it would mean more money for them.

The Gift Economy

In our case, by looking past profit, our marketplace has the unique ability to explore more than one form of exchange.

Suppose you ask me this: Why would someone provide a gift on this marketplace rather than asking to be paid for a product?

I believe there is opportunity to feel rewarded in gifting to our fellow humans. The reward of giving can be very satisfying and has the potential to be equal or greater in value than the monetary value that is placed on a physical object.

Perhaps our relationships can become deeper if we look past the physical level and deeper into our spiritual connections with each other.

Interchange

I give credit to @wwf for coming up with this observation. Because we are not seeking profit, and because we are seeking fair exchange of value (shoppers and vendors alike) – we are not dealing in commerce (whose rules are set by captains of industry). We are interchanging with each other as we seek to exchange our goods and services for an equivalent value; not value plus profit.

My first gift exchange

My Seeds of Abundance store is already offering several varieties of seeds as gifts to our Steem friends that for one reason or another we decided not to sell but have enough amounts that we want to share.

This weekend we just received our first order that included a gift request from @nateonsteemit. He ordered a packet of seeds from us and also requested some seeds we are gifting. I am really glad to see that he already used this feature and am excited to be able to share some surplus with him!

More gifts available

@quochuy has generously shared his e-books for worm composting/farming and composting with black soldier flies as gifts in Homesteaders Co-op.

Now that these new features are available I will be letting our vendors know that they can offer gifts if they so desire.

What do the gifts mean to the Vendors?

I won’t encourage any vendor to offer gifts in our co-op unless they have an interest in it. I completely understand the importance of earning money. It will be completely up to the vendor whether they operate completely financially, completely in the gift economy or any combination. They are also not obligated to fulfill a gift request.

Thanks so much for reading. There is so much more planned and if you like what we are doing I encourage you to stay tuned. Lots of fun updates will be coming!

Thrilled To Be A Contributor: This is @SenorCoconut…

A Traveler Settles Down (more or less)… Because a Homesteading Life is Calling!

As all contributors to @HomsteadersCoop, I’ve been asked to introduce myself. I am a simple man who will happily give you a little tour of my perspective of the world. But first I would like to thank @SageScrubfor creating the amazing Free Marketplace for Steem and for playing a big role (I’m sure with countless hours of his free time) in growing the community around The Homsteaders Co-op. I have gotten to know quite a few people in the community and frankly, you’re all very talented and inspiring.

Here’s a little about me:

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I grew up more or less on the road, every two years or so, my mother and I would pick up and go pretty much wherever the wind blew… She was chasing a better life, away from the fast pace of Paris, away from the rat race and searching for quality. Ironically we eventually found ourselves in New York City, but the traveling didn’t stop there. I was hooked and as soon as I left the nest, I went to Central America, then India and then South America… and when I found my long lost cousins in England, well that’s a whole traveler story for another time, all I can say is that I started understanding myself a whole lot more! I learned at a young age that being out of my comfort zone could be an extremely powerful tool for internal growth and seeing the truth in others while out of their element.


I’ve used this tool with my wife, once before we got serious and then another time durring an Eight Month Honeymoon. She is the one without a doubt!!!


Anyway, as you can see traveling is in my blood, and we don’t intend to stop. With a four year old boy who would normally soon be forced by our government to have some kind of approved education, our travels may slow down but we refuse to be shackled down to a perfect attendance 😜! Sorry, but we have a whole world to show him…

While traveling across the planet, there were so many ways of life that intrigued me, but what stood out the most, what made me who I am today is the incredible self-reliance some people are forced to have. Because they have close to nothing (financially) in this civilized world, they have to find the cheapest and most efficient ways to live. May it be drying cow dung patties on a south facing wall to use as a combustible for cooking a meal with, making homes out of mud and straw, or fermenting grains for some joyous entertainment, they always found a way. While being forced by our ever growing economy to be self-reliant may not be very glamorous, those who are in that position today have a great advantage over those who have no practice in finding a way (diy).

Some years ago after a long trip through Argentina, Chile and Peru, I became inspired to create a Nomadic Community Center, I called it The People’s Caravan, and this was to be a free center for learning all things, art, self-reliance, mindfulness and movement. Like a old time circus, the dream was to move from town to town across the world, exchanging knowledge, pushing into the foreground skill-sets for living free (in many sense of the word) and inspiring community building after we left. The question was always about money… How could this be sustainable?

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I never worked it out, and soon forgot about the dream. A few years later it was revived through ceremony and later the dream morphed or evolved into a realization that we needed a home base for the Caravan. Jessi-k (my beautiful wife) helped in forming this new dream and we decided that a place where we could practice things like permaculture and natural building would be more adequate. This brings me to No Man’s Land, aka DreamLand Express, we want to build a Multi-Family Homestead with a Makerspace. Back in March of 2017 we actually took ownership of almost 20 acres and many plans are brewing for our little piece of heaven…

There are way too many ideas to list here, it’s just an introduction! You are welcome to come check out my personal page @SenorCoconut for updates on DreamLand, the Caravan and all that.


I feel very honored to have been offered the opportunity to write for @HomesteadersCoop. As a contributor I hope to bring my share of inspiring posts and encourage others to adopt Steem into their lives. The more people see that steem can have actual worth, the more they will trust this decentralized monetary system. A coin cannot sit still, a coin that doesn’t move is a coin no one should trusts. And this free marketplace, https://homesteaderscoop.com, is a great opportunity for people on and off the blockchain to see that real exchanges can be realized. At the same token (no pun intended) it will help those unfamiliar with cryptocurrency, because of the ability to pay in USD, to be exposed to STEEM and SBD. Eventually their curiosity shall prevail right?

On the market, I feel very proud to be taking part in a place where sustainable and handmade products are highlighted along with ethical practices. Once again, Thank you for having extended the opportunity to become a contributor, I joyfully accept 😍!

Papa G
aka @SenorCoconut

Who is Homesteaders Co-op?

Homesteaders Co-op is a community marketplace where homesteaders around the world offer their handmade and sustainable goods in exchange for USD, STEEM and SBD (STEEM and SBD are tokens earned through the steem social media platform).

We encourage homesteaders, small family businesses, and eco-minded craftsmen to join our community. There is strength in numbers and with our collective creative abilities, networks, and dedication, we can help each other gain more independence and economic viability.

Anyone can shop at Homesteaders Co-op. However, unlike other marketplaces, we accept USD as well as STEEM and SBD.

We are bridging the gap between conventional money and an alternative economy. In our alternative economy we, as both the producer of goods and the consumer of goods, hold economic sway. When you purchase from our vendors using STEEM or SBD, there is no reliance on credit cards or banks for online transactions. Using these alternative currencies our vendors save processing fees and have more control over their pricing.

We are not a Financial Middleman

We actively choose not to be a middleman in the transactions between our vendors and their customers. Customer payments are made directly to the vendors.

In the case of USD transactions our vendors use PayPal. We setup the transaction via our shopping cart checkout process. When it is time for the transaction to be made, customers pay directly to our vendors’ paypal accounts. The money never routes through us. Its that simple.

In the case of STEEM or SBD transactions, the trusted SteemConnect service facilitates secure transactions between customers and vendors. We setup the transaction via our shopping cart checkout process. When it is time for the transaction to be made, customers pay directly to our vendors’ steem wallets. The tokens never route through us. Its that simple.

Our Mission

We built the Co-op with three aims:

  1. to empower homesteaders through a concerted marketing effort that would support each other’s livelihood
  2. to offer more diverse choices of quality and sustainable products made by small businesses
  3. to offer more market options for using STEEM and SBD tokens, as well as USD
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How it Began

Through steem, we had the opportunity to get to know very passionate and knowledgeable people who openly share their skills and experiences gained through a sustainable, homesteading lifestyle. The value we have received in knowledge, support and camaraderie from our fellow steem homesteaders is invaluable to say the least. As homesteaders ourselves, we are inspired by such a vibrant community and we are honored to be rewarded with STEEM tokens through sharing our content, ideas and support.

At the same time, we also noticed a missed opportunity: there weren’t a lot of options for transacting with the STEEM we were being rewarded, especially in support of each other’s work. Thus we envisioned a marketplace, like a farmer’s market, where we could trade our STEEM for the things we need and love while also supporting others just like us.

With many years of web design, ecommerce and marketing experience at our back, we couldn’t think of a better use of our skills than to bring this vision to reality. We are very proud of the quality of our website, its ease of use, and the ability to accept USD, STEEM and SBD in exchange for goods and services, and we are thrilled to share this resource with homesteaders and discerning buyers!

We are just getting started

The marketplace you see at Homesteaders Co-op is the beginning. Assuming the market rewards our vendors for their quality products, we will continue to make feature improvements to this marketplace to benefit both the vendors and the customers.

Shop with STEEM, SBD (and USD) at https://homesteaderscoop.com