What is a Transition Homestead?

“The government can’t do it and the corporations won’t do it…we need to look at ourselves.”  
-Jules Dervaes

A loosely woven movement is emerging.  Homesteaders, gardeners, and urban farmers are gaining numbers, in response to a society filled with overconsumption and imbalance.  There are endless variations to this lifestyle and my family is a living example.

Our story began a few years ago when we watched a 10 minute video, Homegrown Revolution.  We accepted that we needed to live the solutions we wanted to see.  Similar to people who live in transition towns, we have dedicated our home and lifestyle choices to ‘transitioning’ to a post-peak existence in the retrofitted suburbs with the following aims:

* Sustainable food production

* Relocalizing our economy

* Living in deep relationship with the natural world

Chicken Concierges

This year my husband wanted to expand our chicken operation.  Unfortunately, we are only allowed to have four adult female fowl in our city.  Our solution is we have become chicken concierges.   No, we don’t really call ourselves that 😉

There are people in our neighborhood that are interested in raising chickens but cautious about going it alone.  For those we set up the coop, provide the chickens, and even make daily visits to feed and water the chickens.  Neighbors love getting their half of the farm fresh eggs that were harvested from their own backyard.

Chicken 3

Why do we do it?

The more homes in our neighborhood that have gardens, orchards, chickens, bunnies, and beehives the more resilient our entire neighborhood becomes.  It also normalizes homesteading activities for not only the house we have the chickens at, but for all their neighbors too.  As we are out and about taking care of these chickens we have the opportunity to chat with neighbors and share our passion.  Perhaps next, we will start offering to manage rabbit hutches for our neighbors too.

Soil Solutions: Hugelkultur Beds

Baseline Soil Condition:  No soil🌱

Soil solutions 4

In 2015 we built a Hugelkultur bed out of old logs found around the property and topped the bed with an 9-12 inch layer of wood chips. We drenched the bed daily for a week to kickstart the composting process.

After the bed settled for a month, we planted our favorite nitrogen fixing cover crop right into the wood chips (no soil).  In late spring 2016 we planted out a berry garden:

* Blackberries
* Blueberries
* Raspberries
* Strawberries

All our plants had added soil cover at their roots. No other soil was added. By spring 2017, we had a thriving plot of food production. 🍓🌸🍓

Soil Solutions: Edge Ecosystems

Baseline Soil Condition: Very limited growth

before and after Meme 2

To promote ‘edge ecosystems’ we built a perimeter around one of our planned food forrest areas with straw bale beds (on 2 of 4 edges) and Hugelkultur beds on the other 2 edges. These boundaries increase water retention, as well as promote the ‘edge effect’.

The edge effect is the increased bio-dynamics and diversity at the overlapping lines between 2 adjacent ecosystems.

Soil Solutions: Building New Soil

Baseline Soil Condition:  End of summer last year, we had a rocky patch of land that nothing seemed to grow on.

before and After meme 1

Instead of continuing to dig down, we decided to build the condition of the soil on top in hopes to restore a healthy soil web…

* We laid down bulbs (right on top of the rocky soil)
* Heavily mulched with straw
* Covered with over 180 lbs. of free coffee grounds from a neighborhood coffee shop
* Scattered our ‘go to’ nitrogen fixing cover crop (Austrian Winter Pea & Red Clover)

Today we have a beautiful, soil building, garden for our bees and humans alike to enjoy! 🌼🍃🌷🍃🌸

Soil Solutions: Woodchip Gardening

Baseline Soil Condition:  Dry clay soil with zero growth

before and after 3 Meme

We promoted healing by…

* Back to Eden woodchip gardening (2 truckloads)
* Free range chicken disturbance all growing season 2015
* Nitrogen fixing cover crop in late 2015 and through 2016
* Perennials planted out 2016 (Raspberries, Rhubarb, Aster, Sun chokes, Egyptian walking onions, and Asparagus)
* Annuals planted out 2017 (Winter squash varieties, Pumpkins, Pea varieties, Zucchini, and Cucumbers)

Going Vertical

Since we are limited right now to 0.33 acres, this year we are starting to experiment with vertical gardening.  This is an installation we built 2 weekends ago and the straw bales are almost fully conditioned and ready to plant peas & squash.  Standing just above 6 feet at the peak, and 16 ft. long, this vertical vining garden was actually pretty easy to build for right around $200!

We used 4 Cattle Panels ($20/each) & 18 Straw Bales ($7/each) = $206 plus tax

Each cattle panel is 4 ft X 20 ft.

*  With wire cutters we cut along all the 4 ft. boarder-lines to create 4 inch spikes to anchor the cattle panels into the ground and used the bend of the 20 ft. length to create the arch.

*  On the outer perimeter we lined up straw bales lengthwise (2 bales deep) to provide anchor support and a nutrient rich medium to plant our garden.

*  The tunnel is 16 ft. long (4 cattle panels). After the structure was in place, we zip-tied the cattle panels together, as well as zip-tied the cattle panels to the straw bales twine.

What is Fruit Hill Farm?

Where are you located?  

We live on 1/3rd acre lot in Millwood.  Resting on the banks of the Spokane River, Millwood is small town in center of the Spokane Valley.

What do you do specifically?

After watching Homegrown Revolution, among other influences, we felt called to start living differently.  In 2015 we committed our property to food production, resilience, and living in a regenerative relationship with the natural world.  This year we are also leasing 10 plots at Pumpkin Patch Community Garden.  We built infrastructure on our leased plots to extend our growing season to yearlong, mild winters permitting.

We are actively looking to purchase 2+ acres in the Millwood/Spokane Valley area to start a nursery.

plots 3

Do you give tours?

If you are interested in increasing the productivity of your home, we would love to meet you.  Lunch at our place, us visiting your property, or a quick coffee meeting are all ways we would love to connect with you!

If you have a:
*  youth group
*  garden club
*  civic group
…and want to host a workshop we have would love to plan something with you.

*  A developing perennial food forest  *  Chickens  *  Bunnies  *  Bee Hives  *  Multiple  soil building projects  *  Cut flowers *  Berries galore *

bunnies 2

Are you a real farm?

We produce food in excess to what our family consumes.  However, our excesses are often gifted to neighbors and other community members.

We have also been known to set up and manage chicken coops and bunny hutches for our neighbors who are interested in incorporating elements of suburban farming on their properties but don’t know how to start.  We believe the more families in our neighborhood that are engaged in this work, the more resilient our neighborhood is for everyone!

What will you be selling at the Millwood Farmer’s Market this year?

We will be selling surpluses from our property.

This includes:
*  Eggs
*  Honey
*  Microgreen
*  Greens & edible flowers
*  Dehydrated soup & stew mixes
*  Baked goods

We will also have books, specifically copies of books that helped us along our journey.  Mostly we will be at the Millwood Farmer’s Market because we love our community.  We want to share ideas with our neighbors about becoming a more resilient Millwood!

How do you make money?

We have jobs!

We do have future plans to set up a commercial nursery, but until that happens we are enthusiasts first.  Also, we are developing a network of other passionate homesteaders & farmers who want to engage their communities the same way we have engaged ours.

The Business of Spring

No doubt spring is the busiest time of the year.  By this time next weekend we will be in full blow production mode with the installation of the 2018 apiary, the micro-greens grow room will be at full capacity, and we still have infrastructure to build on our 10 plots at the community garden.

And then there are our ‘real’ jobs that pay the bills…


It’s a time of a lot of work, but it is also an energizing time.  New life abounds in spring!  Flowers break through, bees hives hum anew, and baby animals are everywhere.

This is the most treasured time of year.


Simple Peace

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.  (Jeremiah 29:5)

When I was coming of age I wanted to move to the woods and ‘live off the fat of the land’.  One of my most treasured birthday gifts for my 18th birthday was, Old Fashion Recipe Book: An Encyclopedia of Country Living.

At 18 years old I didn’t have enough money for land, so instead I went to school and the next thing I knew I was 40 years old.

Praise God that my 40’s ushered in a new phase of my life.  My new life is a simple one.  I’ll admit that sometimes I envy others who make different choices, but mostly I am just so thankful.  Thankful for my relationships with God, my husband, my son, and my community.  I thank God that for the last 4 years, through God, I have lived in simple peace.