Spending time with Australian permies has brought to light an old – and new – dilemma. After 20-30 years of building an off-the-grid homestead, what does one do to make sure all the hard work continues when it’s time to slow down?
Some of our new friends here started their permaculture lifestyle when they were in their early 30s. Now, in their 50s and 60s, they are trying to find an answer.
If you happen to be lucky like our friend, John, one of your children embraces the lifestyle and is poised to seamlessly continue the work. John’s 12-acre property will most likely be managed by one of his sons, who tailored his studies at university to fully prepare for working the land.
But what if you aren’t so lucky? What if your kids have no interest in living on the land?
Permies tell us you fall back on the community. Community building is central to the permaculture lifestyle because we need each other in order for it to work. Like the old-fashioned barn raising, local community members come to your aid. When you need something, they help you. When they need something, you help them.
John even spent most of the past decade helping launch an intentional-community housing development in town. The homeowners and renters have all bought into permaculture lifestyle and reciprocity ethics.
Not everyone is finding this kind of solution.
Maureen is thinking about a business deal. She may sub-divide her 2-1/4-acre property and sell part of it to raise some Golden Years cash. Roger is talking about renting out his hand-built mudbrick house to anyone who is willing to take on the bulk of the farm work – and build himself a smaller place elsewhere on the property.
But what if none of that happens? What if – perish the thought – your heirs sell the land to anyone who wants it? What if your precious work is turned into a multi-family housing complex?
The answer may surprise you.
You can’t force others to embrace it. You can only set up an infrastructure to follow. Do the right thing – for you, for the land and for the planet.
And when the time comes, go in peace.