Hello again from @SenorCoconut,
Building a community is about clear communication and the willingness to support one another. As Homesteaders Co-op (HSCO) grows, we must keep in mind that the complexity and diversity of its moving parts may also expand, so here we are helping this free market stay running smooth together.
We found it essential for the good of everyone to highlight the vendors of the HSCO market place. Wouldn’t be nice to know the individuals and families offering their goods and services a little more?
Every week vendors are featured on the web site. As a community, we thought that every week, we should feature these vendors here on the Steem blockchain (@HomesteadersCoop) to give everyone that much more exposure.
It takes a village to raise a child, because when people help eachother life is easier for everyone involved.
Without further ado, here are a few question I’ve conjured up… let’s meet Mountain Jewel:
SenorCoconut: I have followed your journey on the steem blockchain since the beginning, and you’ve both been such an inspiration to me in terms of homesteading, self-reliance, and permaculture. Can you talk about what brought you to create Mountain Jewel?
Mouintain Jewel: First of all, thanks for having us on this interview! We love Homesteader’s Co-op and the community that is forming around it.
Ini smiling with flowers of our favorite native, Paw Paw.
We created Mountain Jewel out of the inspiration of the abundance of the Earth – and how so many things of the earth like fruit, flowers, mushrooms and the interactions between all of the creatures really are jewel-like and should be honored and treasured as such. We want to highlight this in our increasingly earth-disconnected society. We’ve both been so touched by the Earth, we wanted to create a haven for this to be demonstrated so we could enjoy it and others can experience it. It’s also important to create sanctuaries for wildlife habitat and Mountain Jewel is this, too. It’s our goal to create perennial edible systems of abundance and diversity that really knock people’s socks off and which conjur up as Rumi says, that there are a million ways to kneel and kiss the ground! We’ve written quite a few articles on this topic and here are a few if people want to read further:
Our Journey to Becoming Homesteaders
Why We Homestead: Through Thick & Thin
Vision & Dreams Behind Mountain Jewel
SenorCoconut: I was just looking through your website, first of all, congratulations on your upcoming strawbale house build, I’m sure it will be tons of fun!!! Secondly, thank you for the mountain of free educational material on your blog. In relation to your natural medicines and plants found on HSCO’s marketplace, can you walk us through your thinking process and what kind of intentions you’ve set for these products? Feel free to talk about any other product or service you may be thinking of selling in the future.
Mountain Jewel: Thank you!! We are really excited about the build and it’s currently getting into full swing with the foundation of our straw bale home!
Ini standing at the new house site on a ladder dreaming of the possibilities
With our homestead offerings, we again are showcasing and spreading the abundance of the Earth. All of our products are grown from the earth upon which we walk every day and many of them are self-replicating species that are naturally making more of themselves every year.
They are high vitality, nutritionally rich and easy to grow species (like berries, jerusalem artichokes & nettles) which we believe anyone can put in their backyard!
As our homestead expands and matures, so will our offerings. In fact, next weekend we’ll be vending at the Baker Creek Spring Planting Festival and selling berries galore (all of which naturally replicated themselves on our homestead), compost worms (again, reproducing like mad), among others. There is a theme here and it is that we do not live in a naturally scarce world, but we modern humans take part in an economy based upon scarcity. I believe it’s very healing to associate with things of the Earth that show us that this was not always the way and indeed isn’t the only way we must live upon this earth. Our products enable other people to grow these plants and enjoy and witness this abundance themselves.
SenorCoconut: I think we’ve agreed before that the pollution and destruction humanity creates, has put us on a dangerous path that seems to lead to human extinction, if we don’t change our ways “yesterday”. You guys obviously do a lot having an off grid homestead. If you don’t mind talking about it, Could you give us a couple examples of how you reduce your carbon footprint?
Mountain Jewel: You’re so right, we are not steering society in the right direction. This is a harsh reality that we have come to unerstand through study and experience and this has motivated us to be more concious in the ways we live out our lives.
We are ever mindful of the role that trees play in sequestering carbon, and about 15 acres of our land is and will continue to be woodland. This is important for more than just carbon cycles as it promotes and attracts a diversity of wildlife. In an area where it’s all too common to “slick off” (bulldoze) forests to create pastures that require inputs to maintain, preserving and tending a woodland is a powerful act.
We produce 100% renewable energy with solar panels. We didn’t want power companies making decisions for us, nor did we want to run generators so for the first 2 years we simply went without. Many of or tools (including a small chainsaw and strimmer) use battery power which allows us to manage and work on our proprety without petroluem inputs.
A major step we are actively taking is focusing on perennial agriculture. This means less soil distrubance, more carbon stored in the soil and more biomass sequestering carbon every year. Focusing on hardy adaptable species means less work for us and more ecosystem services that our land offers to the bioregion.
We seek to build with local, durable, and salvaged material whenever possibe to reduce the footproint our structures create in the production, transport, upkeep and disposal of these materials. In our upcoming house build, more that 90% of the wood is locally sourced from less than 20 miles away. This is in opposition to lumberyard wood that is grown in Canadian plantations and is dependent on chemicals and a large amount of fossil fuels that get it to consumers.
Our straw bales are grown locally (sequestering more carbon) and we will be protected by a combination of local subsoil (clay) and lime. Our building strategy is to build a stable, well insulated home with high thermal mass that won’t need much inputs in years to come. Build it once and build it right. We will also be harvesting and storing thousands of gallon of rain water harvested from the roof.
Obviously we are growing as much food as we can and eat almost 100% local meat from animals we’ve raised, bartered for or hunted. Our food purchaing choices are based on what is available locally, but we do certainly import organic staples.
Lastly is our effort to share our experiences, skills and knowledge with others so that more may live in alignement with Earth. We need all hands on deck here and the more information that is out there, the more opportunities we all have to create a better tomorrow.
SenorCoconut: Most I’ve talked with or heard speak of permaculture have their own “specialty”, something they like to practice more, something they’re better at. What do you think your favorite permaculture principles are and why?
Mountain Jewel: I agree, permaculture is such a broad ecosystem and most have a niche they fulfil. What comes up for me is always considering how one element can serve multiple funtions. When we plant or encourage “helper” plants like nitrogen fixers or dynamic accumulators, our choices are heavily influenced on how many functions each plant has. Take for instance the permaculture superstar comfrey. Not only does it accumulade a wide range of mineral in its leaves and stems, but it also is a great pollinator, invaluable medicince (for wounds, strains, bruises and broken bones), offers edible green for humans and animals and makes a great fertilizer. We are always finding ways to get as many uses out of the actions we take or elements we add into our systems.
We talk a lot about the principle of using small and slow solutions. Being an almost 100% human powered homestead, there are a lot of ways to appreciate this principle. No machines to dig for us, no tractors to plow, often no trucks to move loads of materials. We are thinking long term so we start small and set succession in motion, we (and others) will reap the rewards for years to come. A few clover seeds scattered before spring rains ripples into a much greater effect of improving soil, attracting pollinators and creating a permanent living mulch. Taking our tasks bit by bit make the mammoth task we are undertaking possible.
SenorCoconut: You have a wonderful internship program, giving people the opportunity to learn to care for a place like the one you’ve built. You’ve said that your homestead is dedicated to living in alignment with natural rhythms, calling it a Center for Earth Connection, can you please tell us more about what this means to you?
Mountain Jewel: What a great question! Yes! I brought this up a bit in the earlier questions and that is the notion of Remembering Abundance. There have been moments of pure joy when I am around the sheer abundance of the earth- think of a plant at maturity giving off thousands of seeds. Before that it was a beautiful flower in bloom and bees and other pollinators enjoyed it, and we did, too! When we align with these natural rhythms we can remember this for ourselves and embody it, sharing it with others and healing the wounds of scarcity – the fact that many humans work all of their lifeblood energy into making money to simply live upon this earth.
With increasing disconnection and basically “living on top of the earth” with the green “backdrop” of unknown plants, modern humans do well to learn the language of the earth once more. Through learning plants and differentiating that green backdrop a species at a time, through picking and eating a fresh fruit warmed by the sun, sleeping with the sounds of coyotes howling, frogs sounding, waking up to birdsong, breathing and drinking pure air and water, these are all connective activities and they balance out and heal our disconnection from the earth. We want to provide a space for people to do these things and remember what a delight it is to connect with the earth and how healing it is in its simplicity. That’s our Center for Earth Connection. Along with all of that, we practically teach the skills associated with Permaculture (how to live in connection with the earth; what patterns and activities are beneficial), Natural Building, Gardening, Perennial Agriculture, Wildcrafting and Foraging, Herbalism and more. We, as a species, once were very connected with the earth and these are tools to be connected once more. It’s an empowering lifelong process – one that brings much joy!
Wren in the woods connecting with nature in New Mexico, one of our favorite places.
With the internship we are hoping on sharing some of the wonderul ways we can work with the Earth. We have both learned a lot from others and we believe there is no substitute for hands-on learning. The skills mentioned above are absolutely necessary for a sustainable society and more people need to embody them. As the homestead evolves, there will be more and more for folks to see, touch, taste and experiece and the goal is to feed souls through inspiration and empower through education.
I want to thank you for taking precious time out of your day to answer these questions, you make me dream… what I mean is that you confirm that my vision of creating a sustainability education center is possible (and not completely crazy 😲).
Education and empowerment are both really great aspects of your work on your homesteading journey. Lately I have been on a trip to reconnect with the earth and it’s been very eye opening, so I really love that you’re on that path and teaching others about it.
Thank you @Mountainjewel, for letting us have a peak into your life, your answers were more than inspiring to me 😁, the best of luck with everything you do and enjoy the strawbale house build!
For those of you who would like to look at her shop at HSCO here a quick link: Mountain Jewel!
Thank you so much for reading and stay tuned for next week’s featured vendor… Same time, same place!