Friday, January 13, 2012

There Are Dreams Bigger than The Urban Farm

We've been in our house about a week. We're still waiting on internet thanks to Telkom (14-21 days "or more" they say. aaah government monopoly) which means we are quite productive. But no pictures, unfortunately. The good news is we've painted one wall in the kitchen. The bad news is that when I scrape off the paint on the opposite wall, bricks actually crumble and come off in my hand.

I wrote several times in the last few years about our big dreams of the Biltong Factory. The biltong factory was actually a run down biltong distribution center, which surrounds our property. At about 1/10 of an acre, it was perfect for transforming into an urban farm/with a small unit for friends or family to stay, or to use as a B&B unit. Given a few years of saving, it would have been within our price range- around R500,000 (R8=$1). Having a larger garden or a place for family to stay is less feasible otherwise, as most houses in this neighborhood are getting quite expensive. My longing was for a sense of permanence and continuity and cool dreams that fitted with my strengths. Which, I suppose, is not uncommon when one is pregnant and getting close to 30.

When we came to look at our house on January 1, it was apparent that the urban farm dreams were not going to be realized. The factory had been bought and converted into a cab/taxi depot. They layered the concrete with more concrete, built a car park and renovated and expanded the building, and are there to stay- and with the new buildings the land is very much out of our price range.

I had been thinking a bit about the farm as we traveled to South Africa. Our family friends recently described how their thoughts about owning a house in (ridiculously expensive) Boston had shifted towards being long term renters, so that their income would be more free to give away, and also that they be more free to move should God inspire them in that direction.

Which made me think there are dreams bigger than having an urban farm in Observatory- maybe dreams where we are less the drivers or central characters in the story. Where I don't have to micro-plan or even save (I'm not dissing the merits of saving, but saving is kind of my thing already). Or be too fearful of the sense of transience and uncertainty that comes with a small house. Perhaps there are more creative ways to offer hospitality to friends and family (and the little boys can share a room until forever, right?). As for urban farming, I can't wait to show you my coke bottle self-watering containers- small but effective- and the possibilities of the small spaces in front and back. With the long growing season and about 1000 coke bottles, the amount of food we can produce in a few square meters is astonishing.

1 comment:

Dan Archibald said...

Disappointing news. :( It would have been totally awesome if you guys had pulled it off. But as you say, it'll let you focus on making your house wonderful now... and who knows what new opportunities the next few years will bring?!

Also, I never managed to comment a few posts ago but the house looks fantastic! What fun you must be having making it really your own!