It’s been five years since Artur and I first visited and fell in love with this decrepit little house in “deep Brandenburg”, left abandoned for over seven years. From the moment we stepped into the corridor, saw the half ripped wallpaper and and huge crack running through the wall, we both knew that this was the one.
The rash decision to buy the house was solely made on our gut. We didn’t think much about the consequences, we just knew that we would regret it if we didn’t take the chance. We could never have imagined that such a decision would send us on the journey that we are on now. What was meant to be just a weekend escape has not only changed our lives but has fundamentally changed who we are deep down as people. The experiences of the past five years have taught me so much, not only how to grow food, but about life, being around others, and about myself.
We could never have transformed our place into our small little oasis had it not been for all the people that have helped us along the way. We have been so lucky to have so many friends and friends of friends help us with renovating and building. Thanks to our farm, we have been able to meet so many incredible and inspiring people, many of which we now consider good friends.
Having such a space has also put us into contact with so many people, a good majority of them from different backgrounds, with different views on life. Naturally, not all of these interactions are harmonious, and I’ve learned to be patient, flexible and understanding. I’ve had to emotionally mature and can deal with conflicts in a calm and respectful way.
Opening up our home also means I’ve had to loosen up and let things go when things aren’t done the way I would have preferred. It took me a while to get used to our literal “open door” policy, with neighbours walking into our hof unannounced and unexpected, a few times while I’ve been soaking up the sunshine topless or pantless. I learned now to keep my clothes close by, in case I need to suddenly cover up.
We appreciate and savour our food much more, because we know the joys and pains of growing it ourselves. We can taste the quality difference between home grown vegetables and what you normally find in supermarkets. We are more aware and in touch with the weather. I used to find rain annoying, but now I rejoice when it rains because I know how essential it is for our plants.
For me, growing food was the gateway to living more sustainably. Before we bought our farm, I hardly thought about the environment and how my actions affect it. Now we are conscious about our energy and water usage. Our habits have changed. I realised I don’t need to have a hot shower every day. We happily shower in the greenhouse and use our compost toilet because we know that these resources are not infinite.
I used to find chickens creepy and growing up in Sydney, I would avoid going out into our backyard because I was scared of wasps and all the different types of insects.
I developed a love for our chickens and a respect for animals and their feelings. I no longer scream and flinch when a bug crawls on me, I know they have their place in the ecosystem and leave them be. I’m still not so calm around wasps and hornets, but after being stung by a wasp a couple of times, I realised the fear or being stung was greater than the sting itself.
I struggled for years with the decision of city versus farm life. I should’ve listened to Artur from the start: I don’t need to make a decision. We’re lucky that we can have both, and I know that I need it.
There are so many memories from the past five years. I’ll probably never forget the weekend where our oil heating was frozen and we had to eat dinner in a room with 0 degrees. Or the time I cried for two days after our first chicken died. We’ve had four people live with us on a longer basis, and over one hundred overnight guests. We’ve hosted many events, from company offsites, to permaculture workshops, chess weekends, murder mystery parties, theatre and music and a farm-to-table dinner. Who knows what the next five years will bring, or how much I’ll change, but I’m looking forward to finding out.