We aspire to create a homestead that works in harmony with nature to provide the majority of our family’s food while also generating enough income to make a decent living. We’re still learning and experimenting, guided by five main principles.
EMPLOYING REGENERATIVE PRACTICES
We want our farm to be good for animals, good for people, and good for the planet.
Our goal is to preserve natural habitat to ensure wildlife can thrive on our homestead. We’re predator-friendly, understanding that all animals do what’s in their best interest and are just trying to survive. And we’d like to work with the French Government to raise livestock species that are considered critical, to help ensure heritage breeds who don’t meet modern farming’s high-production standards remain viable.
We'll strive to be an asset to the community by integrating fully—doing our best to learn French, socialize with our neighbors, improve the land we purchase, and bring revenue to our village. We'll want our guests to feel at home—to explore our farm, try our products, and ask as many questions as they’d like about why we’re doing what we’re doing. We figure if we do this well, maybe others will want to do it too. And if they aren’t into doing it themselves, maybe they’ll value it and patronize farms like ours when they return home.
While factory farming contributes to global warming, regenerative farming combats it by drawing carbon dioxide from the air and storing it in the soil. Unlike conventional agriculture (and especially factory farming), regenerative agriculture improves the resources it uses rather than depleting them. We’d like to work with nature rather than against it, focusing on biological diversity, prioritizing perennial plants over annuals, and relying primarily on internal rather than external resources.
We believe animals have an innate desire to care for themselves—to find their own food, water, and shelter. Factory farming has stripped most livestock of their ability to fulfill these needs due to decades of husbandry and breeding choices that prize high quantities of low-cost animal products over animal welfare. We find the treatment of animals in modern factory-farming systems abhorrent and aspire to ensure the animals who are brought to (or born on) our homestead are free to pursue their respective natural behaviors and lead healthy, happy lives.
We plan to achieve this by researching the natural herd size, home range size, social structure, and behaviors of each species and breed we bring to the farm. For example, how many of a certain species tend to travel together in the wild? Do they stay in a concentrated area or do they tend to roam (and if so, how far)? What relationships do they form with each other and what do they do all day when given a choice? We consider these important questions when selecting an animal and ensuring we’re prepared to nurture it.
We plan to raise animals for honey, eggs, fiber, meat, and possibly milk. We realize some people believe caring for and consuming animals is paradoxical, and may find the very notion troubling. You can learn more regarding our perspective on the matter by reading about my personal evolution from a vegan to an ethical omnivore.
CREATING SELF-SUSTAINING ECOSYSTEMS
Conventional wisdom says you can’t be a farmer unless you’re willing to work 12-18 hours a day for very little money. It’s a struggle: a lot of manual labor mixed with the ability to market and sell your goods, and you can never leave. Who wouldn’t want to do that?!
Us. During our big road trip of 2017, we visited farmers whose ideals seemed similar to ours. The farm tours we took were invaluable and confirmed there are a lot of really good people working hard to farm sustainably, treat animals well, and produce high-quality, healthy products. Our visits also confirmed that these individuals really were working at least 10 hours/day just to stay afloat.
We’re hoping to avoid that. We couldn’t figure out a way to do it in the United States (for a variety of reasons explained in Our Story,) but the French countryside is the perfect place to experiment. Here’s the plan: Lots of research and preparation on the front end to ensure our animals can care for themselves. This involves ensuring they have sufficient space to roam; food to forage (e.g., via food forests they can access year-round); fresh, clean water available; and sufficient shelter. The goal is to mimic the animals’ natural environment as much as possible to minimize our involvement.
I’ve never heard of a completely free-range chicken; they all need some sort of feed and housing, right? That’s always been our experience, but we’re going to try to achieve true freedom. Sure, the odds are against us, but we have some things in mind to try, and we’re open to suggestions. Farm animals’ ancestors cared for themselves before mankind stepped in and rendered them less capable; we’re hoping to restore them to a better-functioning version of themselves.
We’d like to produce about 70% of the food our family needs by raising animals; fishing; and growing fruit, vegetables, beans, and possibly some grains on our homestead. Over time, as we get the hang of it, we’d like to have enough leftover to donate to the community, offer to guests who book a stay with us, and bring to market.
Because our farming model requires so much work and experimentation on the front end, we expect it’ll take 10 years or more before we actually make any money on our products—and that’s if this experiment of ours works. That’s why we’re situating ourselves in a location convenient for tourists and striving to create a peaceful, beautiful homestead where people would like to stay while exploring France. This should give us a chance to share the culture of our farm and make enough money to keep it going.
SPENDING QUALITY TIME TOGETHER
Back in Los Angeles, family time is what we squeezed in between life’s must-do’s, like going to work, running errands, paying bills, and maintaining our home. We ate dinner together each night and made sure to spend quality time on the weekends. That balance works for a lot of people—especially those who love their careers. But we just felt like we never had enough time to spend with each other or to do the things we actually enjoyed; the things that needed to be done took precedence and the things we wanted to do took a backseat.
So we re-prioritized and while the new life we’ve chosen provides less income, it results in a lot more family time. Yes, there are still chores, but we’re able to work, play, and relax together. The things we used to squeeze into nights and weekends are now spread out over the entire week. We spend more time doing things we enjoy—both as individuals and as a family—which enhances each of our lives, makes us happier, and allows us to appreciate the time spent with family and friends even more.