When Miranda Maxson met the man who would become her husband, she was staying in a friend’s unfinished basement in Kelowna, BC. Chris Posniak, a carpenter, was living out of his van, which he had adapted for micro living.
Both of them, explains Miranda, were living as simply and frugally as possible in order to one day afford to buy a property.
Two years later — and with a five-month-old daughter, Hazel, added to the mix — Miranda and Chris are that much closer to fulfilling their dream: they’re in the process of purchasing Alpine Farm, a half-acre plot of land outside of Kelowna, in the small community of Fintry.
There, they plan to create a permaculture food forest. Permaculture, explains Miranda, is about working with, rather than against, nature to heal the earth and maximize food production. “Instead of tilling and bulldozing and clearing the land, and then reintroducing plants to it — along with all the watering and fertilizing and weeding that goes along with that — the idea is that you get to know the land, and how water moves within it, and work with it the way it is.” While setting up a food forest takes a fair amount of effort and planning, it’s designed to ultimately become self-sustaining.
Miranda’s main goal is food security. Their half-acre, she says, should provide ample space for all the vegetables they’re interested in growing, as well as fruit trees and berries. They also plan to raise chickens and beef. For the first couple of years, they’ll live in an RV on the property, and build a house once they have a better sense of how that structure will fit into their food forest. They’ll incorporate solar and wind power, as well as a greywater recycling system, into their home design.
In the meantime, if they need a break from RV living, they’ll find it right next door. Inspired by their son and daughter-in-law’s vision, Chris’s parents have decided to downsize from their house in Kelowna and move to a more manageable place — that Chris and Miranda will help them build — on the land next to Alpine Farm.
“It means that they’ll get to live independently for longer, and that Hazel will be able to grow up around her grandparents,” says Miranda, 32. Building community and sharing farm produce, she points out, are two principles of permaculture.
Becoming parents has been the biggest push for her and Chris to enact their dream. “Within my daughter’s lifetime, she’s going to be faced with either the absolute collapse of her environment, or she’s going to witness one of the biggest victories in human history in terms of us getting our act together and changing our behaviours in relation to climate. And I sincerely hope it’s the latter.”
For Miranda and Chris, Alpine Farm is that hope in action. “We are building our little permaculture food forest on our half-acre in order to show ourselves — and the larger world — what’s possible.”