Welcome to NordicMiniFarm!

August 13, 2013 in Homesteading, Mini-farming by Claude

Hi there!

So, this is the very first post an the NordicMiniFarm blog. This is exactly what the Internet has been waiting for: another blog ; ) Seriously though, there is not much stuff out there on mini-farming and permaculture in cold climates. That’s what this blog is all about. Well, that, and a lot of little projects that go along with implementing a mini-farm, like building stuff and fabricating stuff. I enjoy blacksmithing and I do quite a lot of metal work, fabrication and the like, so there’ll be stuff on that too.

NordicMiniFarm is located in southwest Finland, not far from the city of Turku. The mini-farm project consists of a little over one hectare of land (that’s about three acres, for those of you that don’t use metric), including the plot of our house and one hectare of field adjacent to it. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase the field next to our land in order to start this project. I’m trying to build a sustainable food production system using holistic management practices and permaculture design principles. The aim in the long run is to produce much of our own food, in order to get much better quality food than can be bought in the shops, all organically grown in a polyculture system.

In the process of converting agricultural cropland into an food production system, I’ve been busy implementing a bunch of methods and building a bunch of structures, like a greenhouse with an active solar heat storage, as well as implements for my little Kubota tractor, such as a dump trailer, a subsoiler and other tools. I spend almost all my free time on this and I love it. It’s a lot of hard work, but it is extremely gratifying, bot in an immediate way, as well through the knowledge of building something worthwhile and increasing resiliency in our lives.

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Recently a friend of mine talked me into writing a blog about all the stuff I do on, as he called it, my “farm”. I never actually considered it to be a farm. It isn’t really a farm, to be honest, at least not yet. It will be some day, but now it’s more like a giant garden with some ponds and a huge meadow. A farm isn’t a farm, IMHO, without farm animals. At the moment, we have three cats, but that doesn’t really count, does it? But maybe it’s a mini-farm, or a micro-farm or tiny-farm, or whatever people call these things nowadays. I figured it doesn’t really matter whether it is a farm or not, but what it will be down the road. It will be a mini-farm, no doubt. And it is in northern Europe, hence it’s a Nordic mini-farm. There you go: NordicMiniFarm.com was born.

“You’re doing so many interesting things here. You should write a blog about it. People would be interested! And it’s good to share the knowledge and experiences that come with doing stuff”. So I thought about it for a bit. The thing that kept me from writing a blog earlier was that I am basically too busy making stuff and fixing stuff so that at the end of the day I’m too tired to sit down and write about what I did. But on the other hand, there isn’t really much about mini-farming and permaculture in a cold climate on the Internet, so I might as well add something. So I stopped thinking about it and actually started this bog. In particular, I have seen little evidence of actually functional permaculture systems in cold climates at these latitudes. We’re at 60° Northern latitude (that’s about the same as Whitehorse in the Yukon or Anchorage in Alaska) and that means we have a very short growing season and long, and importantly, dark winters. The lack of solar energy in the winter makes many of the “usual” sustainable growing systems that are used in the mountains in Austria or Colorado, for instance, much more challenging to implement here. But challenging doesn’t mean impossible, so I’ll try my best to adapt these systems to our situation here. That’s what this blog is really all about.

I have mentioned permaculture a couple times already, but I have to say, I’m a skeptical permaculturist: that is, I agree with the basic permaculture principles of care for the earth, care for people and return of surplus to the system, but on a practical level, I’m skeptical how far it can get us in this climate, particularly when it comes to forest gardens. When guys like Geoff Lawton talk about cold climate permaculture, they usually mean temperate climates, like England, where things like winter gardening are still a concept. We’re dealing with properly cold and dark winters here where gardening isn’t really on the agenda, unless you’re willing to pump a lot of energy into a greenhouse for heating an lighting. I probably would have dismissed the whole idea as well-meaning but ill-informed idealism, that is, until I was pointed at the works of Sepp Holzer in Austria about two years ago. I promptly read his version of permaculture and I figured that if he can build an abundant and profitable food production system in the coldest place in Austria at 1500m of altitude on steep slopes, then maybe it is possible to something alike in this climate too. There’s no better way to find out than to try, so try is what I do. This blog is all bout trying to build a resilient self-sustaining system of abundance in a cold boreal environment.

I hope you enjoy reading it and maybe you find some useful information too.