thoughts on 2007 at sunflower river

i’m in the process of closing the books for 2007, and i’d like to reflect a bit on our “year.”

we officially started this project on may 20th, when the four of us decided to work together and lay out our goals and ambitions. we didn’t write our first check until august–it was the earnest payment for our land.

since then, we’ve collectively spent over $100,000 and assumed almost twice that much in debt. i don’t want that number to sound discouraging to people wanting to start projects similar to this one, but it as at least a data point on what you’re getting yourself into.

our debt is actually not that bad, compared to what it could be. all the same, the vast majority of the money we have spent went toward purchasing the land or paying interest on the loan. running full throttle on projects, we’ve barely outspent our monthly interest payment.

and, as busy as we have been, it’s really clear to me that fundamentally, we’re time constrained. i’ve commented often to people that i *love* having four people involved in this project. if one person is losing energy on something, someone else steps up to take their place. we get so much more done with four people than we would with two. all the same, with full time jobs and short winter days, we’re not going to get everything done that we wanted to have finished by spring.

it remains to be seen if we can keep 3.5 acres under control with just 4 of us. we rejected other properties that were smaller, and even worried a bit as to whether this one would be large enough.

taken together, i’d say the best advice i’ve learned in the first year of this project is: if there is anything you can do to get land cheaply, you can save a tremendous amount of money by doing it. if the land isn’t perfect for some reason: too small, not well situated, your mom lives there, etc; you’ll still find you have more work than you have time. you’d be hard pressed to manage a 1/2 acre garden alone while keeping a full time job. in many places, that’s a city plot!

and if you can’t afford your perfect plot of land, invite more friends! you’ll be extremely glad for the extra hands. i had this notion that our land got smaller with more people on it. living here for the last several months, i’m inclined now to think the opposite.

we’ll be unlocking our land’s potential for many years to come. i hope to continue to build our relationship to our land, community, and friends while we do so. sunflower river won’t be the vibrant, lush, *living* place it is in my mind without also being that for the community it serves.