Meet Erin, a Bay Area city farmer and astrologist who sees Bitcoin and homesteading as community-focused methods of turning into self-sufficient.
In this version of the “Bitcoin Homesteaders Interview Series,” I spoke with Erin, who constructed an city farm within the yard of her rented house within the San Francisco Bay Area.
I initially met Erin at a Bay Area Bitcoin Meetup and was struck by her large pursuits — from astronomy and astrology to Bitcoin and doomsday prepping. When not tending to her farm, she’s engaged on a PhD in Earth and planetary science and operating a podcast referred to as “Hell Money” with Casey Rodarmor (the Ordinals man).
She’s additionally reaching youngsters along with her adventures into city farming by way of TikTookay — so observe her there if you happen to’d prefer to be taught extra about how she produces abundance out of her yard.
Erin and I talked about how she acquired her begin with homesteading by likelihood, the distinctive challenges and benefits of city farming, paying it ahead, the long run for San Francisco and the astrology of Bitcoin. I hope you take pleasure in!
Sidd: Thanks for becoming a member of me, Erin! Just to kick off, are you able to inform me a bit about the way you began homesteading and the place you’re at now?
Erin: Sure. So, I began homesteading sort of accidentally. I moved out to the Bay Area about 4 and a half years in the past. And when my boyfriend and I had been looking for a spot to stay, we had been simply wanting on Craigslist for a spot with a yard. We knew we needed to do some gardening, however we didn’t have huge plans.
We got here throughout a Craigslist advert with no photos — it was perhaps two sentences lengthy saying mainly, “Hey, I need a sublet for six months. If you are willing to feed the chickens, I’ll give you cheap rent.” We responded to it, although we thought it is likely to be pretend. But if it occurred to be actual, we thought it could be a great spot for us.
We came upon the one who posted the advert was Novella Carpenter, who’s virtually a neighborhood Bay Area superstar. She’s an city homesteader who wrote a e-book referred to as “Farm City” in 2009. It was a memoir of her life in Oakland the place she began squat gardening on an empty lot subsequent to her home. After she gardened for an extended whereas, somebody lastly confirmed up and advised her it was their lot — however they provided to promote it to Novella.
She purchased it and constructed out a whole city farm that’s referred to as Ghost Town Farm. She emailed us from her private e mail whereas we had been going backwards and forwards concerning the itemizing, so we came upon who she was. So, the itemizing appeared actual to us after that, and since she didn’t ask for any cost forward of time we figured it wasn’t a lot of a danger.
We drove throughout the nation in a U-Haul and confirmed up with out seeing a single image of the house. We simply resolved to stay there regardless. It felt like a synchronicity, a good looking factor to be welcomed into.
That six-month sublet ended up turning right into a yr dwelling at Ghost Town Farm. However, she ended up leaving after that yr, since she solely owned the lot subsequent door and never the home she was dwelling in. When she left, she requested us if we needed to take the chickens. We agreed and located one other six-month sublet that was keen to have our chickens within the yard. We stuffed a U-Haul stuffed with fruit timber in trash cans, cuttings in planters and eight chickens.
We moved in a month earlier than COVID.
Once we settled into the brand new place, we discovered that we acquired together with the owner and felt snug being there extra completely. That allowed us to extra deliberately design our backyard. Then COVID hit, which really labored out completely for us as a result of we had been residence all day, every single day. We spent the primary three months simply working within the yard and setting every little thing up. The yard itself is lower than 1 / 4 acre. It’s not an enormous yard. But we’ve sort of been ready to determine a state of affairs with some raised beds, some stuff within the floor, after which the chickens.
Funny sufficient, a lot of the yard once we moved in was really concrete. The man who owned the home earlier than our landlord was a concrete layer who would take a look at out new mixes in his yard. So, there’s concrete about 16 inches deep in our yard.
We thought we’d take the concrete out, however that was far too tough. Instead, we contacted native arborists — those who reduce down timber — and we acquired three large a great deal of mulch. We lined your entire yard in mulch and simply began planting on high of the concrete and mulch.
Tip: Arborists gives you free mulch everytime you’re capable of take it, as a result of they simply have to do away with it.
From an city soil perspective, loading mulch on that concrete is definitely a fantastic factor to have the ability to do since you don’t actually know what’s within the soil in an city surroundings. Even if one thing’s not close to a present-day construction, the percentages that somebody had a bizarre shed or no matter with lead paint on it, for instance, aren’t zero. Unless you actually go foot by foot and take a look at the soil in your yard, you received’t know what you’re rising in. It’s an enormous downside for city homesteading. So, beginning contemporary on high of concrete and constructing new soil really eradicated plenty of potential points.
We’ve been right here for 2 and a half years, so we’ve seen a few seasons right here now. That’s the story to date.
Sidd: And what’s your private background? What else are you doing outdoors of homesteading and the way did you uncover Bitcoin?
Erin: Well, I’m initially from Pennsylvania, and that’s the place I lived till we moved out right here. I moved to the Bay Area to begin a PhD program in Earth and planetary science at UC Berkeley. I’m at the moment within the PhD program, and that’s what I do for cash.
I fell in love with Bitcoin once we had been dwelling at Ghost Town Farm initially. That was the primary time I ever purchased bitcoin as properly. So, beginning homesteading and stepping into Bitcoin had been on an identical timeline for me.
Outside of that, I even have a podcast referred to as “Hell Money.” I do plenty of astrology stuff as properly, which we are able to get into later.
Sidd: What are you producing proper now in your homestead?
Erin: So, we’ve orange and lemon timber, a few of that are nonetheless in trash cans, and a few of that are within the floor. Putting timber within the floor is a fairly everlasting factor to do as a renter. We’ve tried to place issues within the floor that aren’t going to be an enormous potential downside once we transfer out some day.
Then we’ve 13 chickens in a single space producing eggs. Although, I’ll say, even in Northern California winters, they don’t produce very a lot except you could have a warmth lamp. We get plenty of eggs — sufficient for the 2 of us — after which some further through the spring, summer time and fall.
We have two areas by way of rising. There’s a perennial permaculture space that’s largely herbs and crops that simply keep within the floor and produce a brand new harvest once they’re prepared. Then we’ve two raised beds that we use for crops that we harvest on an annual foundation and that we rotate.
Right now, the beds are empty. We’re simply getting issues began for subsequent yr. It’s our fourth summer time dwelling on this home, so we’re attending to the purpose the place we’ve to actually care about soil well being for annual crop rotation. When you backyard within the first yr or so, in case your soil is in good condition, every little thing’s nice. After that, if you happen to’re not interested by the way to fertilize issues and ensure that your soil is properly balanced, it might probably actually begin to go dangerous.
We’re targeted on getting soil checks completed to get a way for our soil well being, so we are able to keep that into this yr. We even have worm composting, which I like to recommend to anybody who even has similar to a tiny yard.
Worm composting is mainly a system of Tupperware-like massive bins which have grates on the backside. Stack 4 or 5 of them on high of one another with smaller and smaller grates as you go down the stack. Put your compost within the high bin and add worms. The worms eat your compost and because it breaks down, compost falls to the decrease ranges and the worms unfold out. You produce nice fertilizer so rapidly in a really space-efficient approach. The backside container will get stuffed with black gold.
Sidd: So, in these first three months, was it full-time be just right for you and your boyfriend to construct beds, lay mulch and plant every little thing? What was the method of getting it began whenever you correctly kicked off?
Erin: I’d say it was a full-time weekend job for 2 to a few months. We each work full-time jobs through the week, however we had been working from residence. That helped with just a few duties, like tending to new chicks. It’s actually onerous to have a nine-to-five workplace job and lift chicks. You want to have the ability to do quarter-hour of upkeep or checkup through the day — that makes an enormous distinction. So, a distant job the place you’re working from residence is ideal.
Fortunately, it was additionally a very nice strategy to see buddies at the moment. In the early days of COVID, folks had been probably not leaving the home or doing something. So, folks had been keen even to return over and transfer mulch round for 4 hours. That meant we acquired plenty of assist.
I feel dwelling in an city surroundings, so many individuals don’t have entry to nature or the enjoyment of cultivating one thing. It’s very satisfying work. So, even when we’ve huge duties which are lots for simply two folks to do, we’re normally capable of finding some buddies that prefer to make a cute sort of cottage time out of it.
Sidd: How did you learn to arrange and run your homestead?
Erin: Quite a lot of it was Novella, initially, since we lived on her farm which was at that time about 15 years previous. She was our largest mentor. When we took cuttings from her crops, we had been already conversant in how they behave in the event that they’re doing properly or not.
I didn’t develop up doing this, and neither did my boyfriend. Our experiences with Novella and the web acquired us right here. We do have a ton of homesteader books, however I haven’t cracked open most of them as a result of any query I’ve I can simply Google round for whereas I’m out within the backyard. There are plenty of boards with folks figuring it out on-line.
I additionally discovered the free permaculture course from Heather Jo Flores very useful and fulfilling as a result of it goes into the rules behind permaculture. Those rules assist me to maintain asking, “What is it I’m actually trying to do here?” so I put extra thought into my designs.
Our studying path has been a combination of that preliminary mentorship, plenty of Googling after which simply experimenting and willingness to fail. We’re not doing this for revenue or attempting to stay utterly off our land which implies we’ve an enormous margin for error.
Sidd: What labor is concerned now in operating your backyard and the chickens?
Erin: It is dependent upon the time of yr, and since we’re doing it for enjoyable as a substitute of to outlive, it additionally is dependent upon how motivated we’re and the way a lot time we’ve to commit. In the spring, from February to April, is essentially the most intensive time since you’re sprouting seeds and it’s a must to plant every little thing. That’s the planting and sowing seed stage.
Once every little thing is within the floor, we’ve drip irrigation. We don’t have to go on the market and water every single day. The chickens have a feed factor they’ll simply step on to open to allow them to get meals. We simply should refill that like as soon as each different week and acquire eggs, which isn’t work — that’s enjoyable.
The door to the rooster coop opens and closes with the solar utilizing a lightweight sensor, and the chickens are like robots — they know to go out and in of the coop. So, the extent of labor is truthfully as much as how a lot effort we need to be placing in. It finally ends up being a Saturday or Sunday, perhaps each different week or so, turning into a delegated work day to do a little bit of upkeep.
If you’re working from residence, and you’ll spare quarter-hour in a day to do no matter must be completed outdoors of a weekend day, I feel it’s straightforward to keep up one thing that’s this small. Especially chickens.
I like to recommend chickens to everybody who has a yard. I feel they’re lots simpler than folks initially anticipate. I’m certain if we hadn’t inherited chickens, it could have been an enormous choice to get them. But now, we’re by no means going to stay with out chickens. They’re part of our life and now we all know how straightforward they’re.
Sidd: What concerning the noise from chickens — does that ever trouble you or your neighbors?
Erin: They are noisy, and roosters is usually a lot. However, we’re in a metropolis anyway. Most individuals are used to noise. They’re anticipating it.
The foremost issue for us was discovering landlords which are cool with them. In this space, neighbors aren’t the issue. It’s Berkeley folks, they assume it’s cute and funky. We had one neighbor who put up a fuss about it, but it surely was as a result of he thought we had been simply yuppies that didn’t know what we had been doing. Once he realized we had a clue, he liked us and loved having us as neighbors. That was a humorous kind of rite-of-passage expertise.
Sidd: So, stroll me by all of the fruits, greens and herbs you might be rising.
Erin: We have virtually infinite lemons and oranges yr spherical coming from two timber in trash cans and one within the floor for each of these. We even have an insanely prolific raspberry bush that produces essentially the most scrumptious raspberries I’ve ever had. We randomly planted artichoke, which is perennial. It’s at all times doing tremendous properly.
And then we’ve plenty of herbs. Those have been straightforward, particularly herbs for teas and medicinal herbs. I used to be actually into that for a sec. throughout COVID, as a result of I needed different therapeutic choices. One of my favourite issues to do is an enormous harvest of herbs. I cling them to dry after which experiment with completely different tea blends.
We should determine what to plant for the summer time within the raised beds. My grandfather on my mother’s facet was an avid tomato gardener in Pittsburgh who saved seeds each single yr. I used to be capable of get a few of his seeds from the 2008 planting, and already acquired some to sprout and develop. I saved seeds from those who we are able to plant once more.
Finally, we develop plenty of weed yearly, contained in the authorized quantity in California of six crops. We’re legally rising extra weed than we might ever probably smoke. I simply give it away.
Sidd: If you progress, are you going to dig every little thing up? Or take cuttings and begin anew?
Erin: So, we really stay in a duplex, and our new neighbors that moved in a yr in the past stated they selected this place partially due to all of the work we had completed. They needed to begin gardening, so we helped them construct out two extra raised beds to plant in. Now we get to share this space with folks which are like minded and need to domesticate with us.
So, once we lastly do transfer out sometime, relying on the dynamics of who’s dwelling upstairs, we’d simply depart it for them. We might simply take cuttings of no matter we would like, mainly. Having moved a lot from sublet to sublet, I feel it’s good to depart issues higher than you discovered them. To give the folks transferring in one thing they’re ready to make use of and construct off is a very nice feeling to have upon transferring out of a spot.
It’s paying it ahead. If we simply moved into an empty lot, I can’t think about what we’d be doing now. We had been lucky to see different folks doing it, and there’s plenty of generosity in wanting to maintain the land going the best way that it’s fairly than tearing every little thing out and taking it with you.
Sidd: What are your ideas on the significance of genetics within the crops you’re rising?
Erin: When I take into consideration genetics, I take into consideration biodiversity. Generally talking, I lean within the doomsday prepper path. Having a homestead is thrilling for me for the food-security facet. Our backyard hasn’t solved that downside, but it surely does give us a buffer. That alleviates what some would name “anxiety” within the background — however I simply assume it’s realism concerning the state of issues.
So, once we had been organising the homestead, I used to be fixated on how there’s so little biodiversity in our meals system. So many farmers simply purchase seeds from the identical folks and so they’re genetically modified. On high of that, lots of the hybrid seeds actually can’t be saved — they received’t propagate on to new generations or it’s unlawful to take action.
Very little range in seeds makes it simpler for a illness to unfold like wildfire and wipe out a bunch of genetically-identical crops. So, I used to be focused on discovering varieties that had been sourced from folks attempting to protect biodiversity, and likewise to optimize for issues that grew properly in my microclimate. At this level, a pair years in, the easiest way for me to do this is to avoid wasting seeds myself yearly. Long time period, I hope I can begin a seed farm and promote seeds as a way to assist keep biodiversity.
Sidd: Most homesteaders, I feel, are withdrawing from the world in plenty of methods. However, it appears you’re interested by it in a extra communal approach. Why do you assume that’s? What position does group play in your homesteading journey?
Erin: I feel it’s a little bit of a way of life distinction given I stay in an city space. I’m not capable of fortify and shut myself off the best way I feel lots of people who do that kind of life-style are. And at this stage of my life I don’t assume that’s one thing that I need to do.
For instance, I really like that there’s actually one Bitcoin meetup per week, at the very least in my space. I like dwelling someplace the place there’s lots occurring and it’s straightforward for me to work together with folks and be part of one thing higher than myself. I’d fairly attempt to construct up my group round me than simply survive remoted with my household.
I’m certain I acquired this from someplace, however I feel rising a backyard is without doubt one of the solely particular person radical acts that you are able to do. Buying bitcoin might be one other one. Growing a backyard makes you extra autonomous and means that you can provide primary must folks round you. If you could have a pair toes of filth, you are able to do that. I positively went by a section the place I assumed we wanted to maneuver to the center of nowhere and fortify, however I’ve gotten previous that now.
We are additionally lucky to stay in an space with many strong regenerative farms with community-supported agriculture (CSA) drop offs, so we’ve a vegetable CSA and a meat CSA. That’s one other benefit of dwelling in a populated space — you could have entry to lots higher meals sources that may nonetheless be very native. We have many choices right here from city farms to the broader Bay Area, which is why I don’t really feel such a powerful have to subsist off simply what I develop. I’d fairly simply be part of that community personally.
Sidd: Back to Bitcoin. I observed a powerful curiosity in homesteading amongst Bitcoiners once I traveled throughout the U.S. this yr. What’s your learn on that? Is there actual curiosity in transferring again to the land and farming?
Erin: I feel it’s actual. But I feel the back-to-the-land factor is fraught. It’s the identical factor that the hippies did. I feel folks underestimate how tough and isolating it’s to actually depart society. I imagine in my energy as part of a group sufficient that I feel I could make change, inside the space that I’m in. I don’t know that I’d really feel that approach if I lived some place else.
The Bay Area has a powerful sluggish meals motion left from the hippies within the ’60s and ’70s, and I really feel like folks listed here are extra okay with different existence. There’s an urge for food for experimenting with extra decentralized, anarchist conditions, for higher or for worse. San Francisco is on the dangerous facet of that, like, anarchy line. Like I stated, I feel the meals system is an issue that you would be able to really attempt to sort out as a person or as a household, which isn’t the case for lots of political points.
If you might be that apprehensive concerning the meals system, you should purchase a few acres and begin a farm to be part of the answer. That goes hand in hand with the decentralized economics of Bitcoin as properly. In my eyes, decentralization is a large a part of this new motion of rising issues the precise approach and incorporating animals into your rising ethically. I don’t assume that we are able to have a vegan, plant-based agricultural system — we want animals to be part of that. And I really like that numerous Bitcoiners get that.
There’s additionally a parallel between Bitcoin and homesteading in techniques design. You have to have the ability to zoom out and recognize the system as a complete. In a fantastic backyard, you might be organising the precise rising situations in order that the stuff you plant all contribute to one another and soil well being is maintained. That is a sublime system that’s really sustainable — not sustainable in a buzzwordy approach. Bitcoin and its incentive construction are equally sustainable.
Sidd: I need to get your tackle what’s taking place in San Francisco. In a current “Hell Money” episode, you talked about how San Francisco has many wild dichotomies. For instance, you’ll be sipping a $20 cocktail in a pleasant bar with folks taking pictures heroin outdoors and feces on the street. What’s your learn on what’s taking place in S.F.?
Erin: That’s a troublesome one. There are lots of people that make some huge cash dwelling in S.F., however I feel they’re not very invested in San Francisco in the long run. When I take into consideration the folks I do know who stay in San Francisco, they go to Tahoe to ski each weekend. Once they’ve youngsters, they transfer out of S.F. I feel there are extra canine than youngsters within the metropolis of San Francisco.
This is a generalization, however I really feel plenty of tech individuals are fantastic to simply order DoorDash and hand around in their house through the week, then go away on the weekends. I don’t assume there’s the identical stage of funding in dwelling in San Francisco as someplace like Los Angeles or New York — which have excessive revenue as properly.
San Francisco folks strike me as both shut-ins or outdoorsy. In each circumstances, they’re not going out within the city and experiencing issues. I’ve nonetheless not absolutely wrapped my head across the homeless state of affairs or how folks clarify that to themselves. When I’m going to San Francisco, it shakes me to my core. Something must be completed however I don’t know what.
The social norm is to simply ignore it as you stroll by. That’s a horrible factor to do, however that’s all you are able to do, proper? That’s all that’s socially acceptable to do, at the very least. Homelessness has change into such an ingrained a part of the politics right here: No one actually is aware of the way to resolve it, or the options are unsavory to a progressive mindset. So, the reply is simply to disregard it, and never spend time in San Francisco.
It’s attention-grabbing that the remainder of the Bay Area doesn’t really feel like that in any respect. Oakland and Berkeley don’t really feel like that. They really feel like lived-in locations the place folks spend their entire lives, elevating youngsters and all. Oakland and Berkeley are in all probability the very best life-style by way of what I’m in search of out of life: a yard, chickens and low-key neighbors. There’s no home-owner’s affiliation to take care of. But I can take the bus to work, we are able to bike wherever we would like, it’s a really walkable space.
Sidd: Where do you assume San Francisco is heading? What will it appear like in 20 years?
Erin: My hope is that the tech sector finally peters out of the Bay Area. For tax causes, I really feel like that’s not an unlikely state of affairs. Then I hope that San Francisco builds extra housing and it turns into extra inexpensive to stay there. It’s a good looking metropolis with an unimaginable local weather, and that can at all times be a draw. It simply wants a reset.
Sidd: So, the very last thing I need to discuss is your curiosity in astrology. I discover it attention-grabbing the way you discuss Bitcoin and different social change by that lens. I’m curious, why are you so focused on astrology?
Erin: God is aware of! It’d be actually handy if I wasn’t, truthfully. The extra I realized about it, the extra my world formed round it. I began seeing issues in that framework, and it turned the dominant approach that I understood life.
I feel perception and non secular construction are a pure a part of the human expertise. So, you may both be self privy to it, acknowledging what you imagine and that it’s not one thing you’re going to logically justify. Or, you may attempt to fake you don’t should imagine something — however that simply makes you much less conscious of the road between your perception buildings and your logical mind.
It’s onerous for me to think about how I’d make sense of something with out astrology. I by no means stopped eager to study astrology, and I at all times discover new methods to grasp the world with it. However, I additionally contemplate myself a science person who enjoys pondering logically. I simply consider them as being completely different instruments in a software belt. Both have their limitations. But once more, if you happen to don’t have the non secular understanding, I feel you’ll fill it with one thing else. That could possibly be an ideology or a kind of non secular interpretation of science, however you’re going to create a perception construction even if you happen to assume you don’t imagine in something.
Sidd: You’ve talked about the astrological age of Aquarius many occasions in podcasts: What is that and what does it say about every little thing we’ve talked about?
Erin: So, the age of Aquarius is an astrological age. Astrological ages are decided by the precession of the equinoxes of the Earth. Over a interval of 1000’s of years, the Earth wobbles on its axis. This means the equinox factors in a unique path over time, into completely different constellations. The equinox factors towards every signal for roughly 2,000 years.
So, we’ve been within the age of Pisces for the final 2,000 years, and we’re transitioning out of it now. Jesus is commonly considered a really quintessential Pisces vitality, as a result of Pisces is all about spirituality and dissolving the self into the opposite. I really feel like faith because the opiate of the lots is a really age of Pisces sort of vitality.
The final 2,000 years have been so dominated by the key monotheistic religions, with the best way folks decide what’s good, what’s worthwhile, what’s authorized even, all derives from these monotheistic buildings. Even the Gregorian calendar we use at present began 2,000 years in the past, with the daybreak of the age of Pisces. Monotheistic faith is such an enormous a part of the framework at present; of the soup that we’re dwelling in.
Now we’re transitioning into the age of Aquarius. When the age really begins is very debated, however I’ve heard lots of people say the yr 2000 and even the yr 2140, unrelated to Bitcoin. In any case, the age of Aquarius is marked by themes like decentralization and expressing individuality whereas nonetheless being a part of a collective.
The web involves thoughts with age of Aquarius vibes. I additionally assume the transition to the knowledge age and the dissolution of the hierarchical construction we had earlier than are huge themes. There are all these completely different sorts of decentralized methods of figuring out what’s worthwhile and true, like Bitcoin, however they’re additionally so chaotic proper now. That is age of Aquarius vitality.
My Bitcoin journey is definitely tied to astrology as properly. I wasn’t following it carefully, however I used to be shopping for small quantities as a doomsday prep of kinds as a buffer in opposition to an economic system that appeared pretend. Then, on the finish of 2020, there was a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius. I felt like all this Aquarius vitality would are available, filling the void left from COVID.
The day of the conjunction, as we had been driving out to the seaside, I checked out my telephone and realized bitcoin was again as much as $18,000. That felt like age of Aquarius vitality. During 2021, bitcoin’s value adopted the tendencies of Jupiter carefully. So, seeing all these Aquarius transits occur with Bitcoin, I resolved to be taught extra about it. I discovered an in-depth article concerning the astrology of Bitcoin and it simply clicked for me. This and the web are how we are able to dissolve this corrupt, top-down monetary system that everybody is aware of is damaged.
Sidd: One final query: Is there an astrological rationalization for the current bitcoin run up?
Erin: So, this weekend I’m assembly up with some Bitcoin astrologers. Of course, this isn’t an astrologically-random time: we’re assembly up for the brand new moon in Aquarius. So, at present is Tuesday the seventeenth of January, and there’s a brand new moon in Aquarius on Saturday the twenty first. The new moon can be in the identical space that Pluto will go into between March and June this yr. So, I feel this can be a sneak peek into what Pluto in Aquarius will carry. After Pluto leaves Aquarius this yr, it should re-enter in 2024 and keep till 2044.
So, we’re getting a bit blip of what that new vitality coming in is likely to be.
Sidd: Thank you for sharing your ideas, Erin!
This is a visitor put up by Captain Sidd. Opinions expressed are solely their very own and don’t essentially replicate these of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.