I grew up in the city in Central North Carolina. I also spent my early adult years in a similar area. I still love the city, but recently I have decided to move back to an area with more land, more availability to farm, and increase my overall quality of life. What I realized is that there are numerous benefits to moving back to green environments, especially if it is an area that supports local and sustainable agriculture. The payoffs that you get range from a healthier diet all the way to reducing your carbon footprint. There is also a strong community that can be forged around shared values and work. While this is not an easy move, especially for city natives like myself, it is the best move that I made. This move can be difficult, but below is the way I made the transition.
1. Research the Move
What is most important as you make the move is to do research on your new community. For me, coming from the city meant there was a lot I needed, as well as no longer needed. Going to a more rural area meant more wildlife, including bugs, spiders, and more. We made sure we had the appropriate resources to take care of this and to cut down on our exposure to poisonous creatures. Since we did the research ahead of time, this wasn’t something that we had to do in reaction to moving, but were already prepared for. No matter where you are and where you’re going, being prepared is key to an easy transition.
2. Know Your Soil
So as I said, my move back to the land was to have the ability to farm more. In fact there has been more and more of a movement to do so in recent years. There are health benefits that come along with this, and the gratification you get from self-reliance. What is most important to make this move is to have a good idea of what your growing conditions are. This can help dictate what you can grow and when. In some cases you can change the soil profile to suit what you’d like to grow, but that can be difficult. Either way, it is important to add nutrients to the land for optimal growth. My wife and I compost, as well as get help from the local grow store that helps with topsoil and mulch. It is important for our area to do this, as we tend to have more sandy soil that is not great for our produce. Doing some research and asking locals can help you learn how to take care of your land.
3. Join A CSA
Most rural environments, especially ones that have strong young communities, have CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). These groups consist of people coming together to grow their own produce for the entire community. Activities like this really bring people together when they are working for the common good. You can learn valuable skills and information to take back to your own gardening efforts, as well as making friends! Close friends are something that benefits anyone in a new area, so you should take advantage of this.
4. Spend Time on Foot
Our reliance on cars and other personal forms of motorized transportation has resulted in a disconnect with our environment and our community. I try as often as I can to walk around my community and my land just to help forge that connection. The more time you spend on foot, the more you see. The more in tune you get with your surroundings. While I am out, I notice small things like that there are more or less deer around, which will dictate how I will protect my farming. It is things like this you miss when you’re constantly on the run and don’t take the time to look around from time to time. The more you do this in your new area, the more comfortable you’ll feel with all of your surroundings.
5. Find TIme to Yourself
This might be the most important part when making a big adjustment to a new place. Make sure that every now and then you can get away and have some time for yourself. Take walks, go for bike rides, or just sit outside with your thoughts. Big moves and changes can be taxing, so you need to make sure that you stay relaxed and calm. Not every day will be perfect, and not every day will be a new adventure. But you need to find a little window of time every day to check in on yourself. Make sure you’re doing well. This is something I do daily, before or after work. I sit on my front porch, stare out into the beautiful blue sky, and let everything go for a few minutes. You’ll be happy if you do this, and it will make things much easier.
These guidelines have helped me make the transition from living in the city to living in a more rural area. As long as you keep your reasons for moving in mind, you should be okay. It is difficult to undergo drastic changes, and you will need time to get back to 100%, not to mention become familiar with your surroundings. Just make sure that you’re diligent about getting settled, and take a little bit of time every day to reflect on your decision, and why it was the right one to make.
Image Source: Will Meredith/Flickr