Despite being born and raised in the city, many cities, I have been fascinated with farming.
I tried my hand at dry-land farming. That’s the basis of my book “Just A Couple Of Chickens”, which is funny because it didn’t really go well. But it also didn’t cure me of the farming itch. I’m back in the city again, having flunked farming 101, and now I’m starting to look to urban homesteading. That’s farming my urban habitat, no matter what it may be, using ingenuity and science and techniques the neighbors probably don’t want to know about.
Recently, I realized that my twenty-year-long fascination with Biosphere2 was because it is the Ultimate in Urban Homesteading.
Biosphere2 was an attempt to test what is required to have a self-sustaining enviroment isolated from the planet earth. While the facility is certainly on our earth, it could be completely sealed away from the ground, air, and water. Sunlight pours in through glass, but sunlight would pour on to anything out in space as well, so that’s part of the plan.
In the 1990s, two teams of people were sealed inside on a mission to see how well it would go to be totally self-sustained. Like, including air and water and all food. They had chickens and goats and crops and five biomes of wild plants and animals. The general media likes to call the mission a failure, but it wasn’t. An experiment is a test, and if it doesn’t make the goal, that’s still good information. The biosphereians were not able to grow and produce enough food to sustain themselves comfortably, as well as suffering other problems, but they learned a lot. They learned not to bring monkeys next time, for instance.
I claim the Biosphere2 crowd as members of my distinguished crowd of failed farmers, which includes the Laura Ingalls Wilder clan.
As I begin my sequel to my first book… which will probably be titled “Just A Couple More”, I’m turning my thoughts to urban homesteading more and more. I’m in the perfect city to do it. Portland, Oregon has a fan base of sustainable agriculture in the city.
Biosphere2 is in Tucson, Arizona and well worth a visit. I think it’s very much like what I would do with urban homesteading if I had 250 million dollars to spare, and about 50 additional million dollars a year for upkeep. My farming plans are smaller in scope, but not in impact.