Living what we thought was the “American dream,” we didn’t realize that when we moved in to our house in 2008 that soon our whole world would be turned upside down after receiving a few tomato plants from Tracy’s dad that first year. Jessica had never grown a plant before, living in big cities for most of her life, and Tracy, who did grow up a bit more rural, was still never interested in growing his own food. However, after that first taste of a true homegrown tomato, we were both hooked! The next year, we decided to take out half of the grass in our backyard to make way for more veggies and fruits. As we learned more and stumbled along, our gardening endeavor led to a larger discovery to how we, as a whole, were living in America. As we became closer to the earth and nature, we realized how far we’d fallen from how people were meant to live. We began reading and learning more about the corruption of the government, which is largely controlled by the big businesses, like Monsanto. We started making connections between every aspect of life in America, from the food system to the treatment of the land to the “dumbing down” of the education system to the healthcare system to our lack of family and community. To make a long story short (because we could go on forever), we are sick of living in a system and culture that intentionally poisons its people and only favors the wealthiest individuals while keeping the rest of us distracted, sick, and disconnected.
We’ve gotten to the point where we feel like our only option is to remove ourselves from this system, and live at one with nature and in community with others who feel the same. We thought about moving to the country and living on a farm because Tracy’s parents have land in Missouri too, but then we feel like we would be isolating ourselves more and we know we need a community to live in too. And after Elijah, our son, was born, we became even more thoughtful of how we are living and how we want to raise him. We don’t want him growing up in a culture that promotes Ipads for 3 year olds or puts high fructose corn syrup in nearly everything fed to the masses, from babies to adults. We want him to grow up in a loving family and community, which respects the earth and gives back what it takes from nature.
So after a couple of failed attempts at exiting this culture permanently, one immigrating to New Zealand and the other moving to a commune, we were trying to figure out where we were meant to be. Then after one day sitting on the deck, we were fumbling around the idea of living in another country again. There were so many obstacles though: immigration, permanent residency, money, debt, applications, etc. From the research Jessica had done, many countries wouldn’t accept you unless you already had a job there or could support yourself fully without a job. Both of those would be tough at this point. Then we thought of Wwoof (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), an organization that connected organic farmers with farm volunteers all around the world. We’d known a couple of people who did this and loved it, an opportunity that combined our love of organic gardening with community and international travel; does it get any better than that? But seriously though, didn’t our preset American minds say you can’t have a family, a baby, live a good life AND travel the world??? We then starting thinking of all the hassles, like what we would do with our house, our debt, being away from friends and family, having to deal with diapers and other baby things away from home. There was no way we could do this? Or was there? People lived in other countries and had babies; people used to live nomadically, without diapers, strollers, and all the other “luxuries” of modern living. This was actually what we wanted to get away from. We were in search of a place we could call home, a place of love and community, where Elijah could grow up, and where we could actually learn about life and living one with ourselves, our planet, and our God. So we said why not just do it. And the planning began…