Creating Food Security and Community, One Street at a Time.

In February of 2019, I was living the life. I had rented an 1840 log cabin on a 130-acre farm and had a small vegetable garden. My dog, Remy, and I would go for daily walks around the farm and go exploring in the surrounding woods. The landlord wanted a long-term tenant. I told them I planned on dying there. Well, life has a way of saying — not so fast there girlie.

At the beginning of March, we had a lot of snow on the ground. I let Remy out that morning and the next thing I remember was the sheriff knocking at my door to ask me if I had a dog. I said I did and he told me she had been hit by a car. At first, I thought that it couldn’t be her cause she never left the yard. I went upstairs to put on clothes as I was still in my robe. I had trouble walking up the stairs as my legs had gone weak and once upstairs I forgot how to put pants on. I just couldn’t figure it out so I put on my coat and went out with my leggings on.

Yes, it was my girl, my heart, my friend. Gone. I found deer tracks in the snow and knew that she had chased the deer into the road. Anyone who has owned a treasured pet knows the grief of losing a pet so unexpectedly.

Later that same month my landlord stopped by to chat. I had a bad feeling about it. I couldn’t pinpoint why but I just knew all this small talk was leading me somewhere I didn’t want to go.

He told me that they were closing down their gardening business and moving part of it back to the farm, and one of their employees needed a place to live and that I had to move out. He gave me 6 months.  I thought, how could things get worse.  What had I done, in this or a previous life to put me in this awful situation.

After living on the farm I realized that I loved and felt at home being in nature.  I REALLY didn’t want to move back to an apartment, but I thought that it would be my only option. My daughter had just bought a house with her girlfriend and suggested I try to see if I could get approved for a mortgage. I tried and was approved! The hunt was on.  My excitement soon turned into dread.

All the areas that I wanted to move to were way out of my price range. So I ended up buying a small house in an iffy area of Milwaukee. It was a tiny house but had a big backyard, so I bought it. I wanted to put in a garden and the yard had potential.

And lucky for me, I saw that there was a small vegetable garden already there, about 12′ x 15′. Upon closer inspection, I could see that the garden hadn’t been touched in years. There were small trees in it. So I got to work — I mean, how hard could it be?

This was a mess of weeds and small trees

No one had touched this for years.

Putting in hay bales to grow something.

Really hard. Each tree took about an hour each to get all the roots out. And the other plants, which I still don’t know the name of were all connected by underground runners, so I have to dig out every square inch of the garden to make sure I got them all. By the middle of June I knew I had to get plants in or I wouldn’t be harvesting anything, so I decided to use hay bales in half of the garden. It worked out pretty well! I added a couple of trellises’ I had from the farm and we were off and growing food!

I wanted to grow more. So the next spring I had my friend Rock come and cut down the 4 pine trees. I then signed up at getchipdrop.com and had truckloads of woodchips delivered. I saved all my cardboard boxes (removing any tape and address labels and got to work.