Close your eyes with me and imagine for a moment… Well, don’t actually close your eyes because you won’t be able to read what I want you to imagine. Pretend instead, that you are closing your eyes and imagine a 16 x 32 rectangle piece of land surrounded by a white picket fence. The bottom two feet of the fence is wrapped in chicken wire to prevent any wildlife from passing through – though it is uncertain if it is intended to keep the wildlife in or out. The fence has seen much better days, falling off the posts at random intervals and the vinyl is cracked and broken from exposure to the sun. The patch of ground contained within is completely overgrown with weeds taller than me that rustle with the wind, a foreboding “do not enter because you can’t see what you will be walking into” song.

behind us

It’s behind us!

Ok. You can stop imagining now. This was the back, right corner of our yard when we first purchased our current house. It was supposedly a garden, which we both thought was an enchanting feature for our new home – our very own fairy tale garden. We loved the idea of growing our own food. It seemed like such a city slicker thing to do in our suburban backyard. How exciting! I searched for a couple of hours for a photo of the old garden and this one of Kenz & I on the slide is the closest I could get. You can barely see it behind us to the left. It was such a hideous piece of our property that we were able to almost completely hide its existence from photographic memory… Almost.

As I began to clear the brush from the land, it became clear that the soil was less than fertile. While it was certainly overgrown, there was no plant life living in there. Dead weeds as tall as me seemed to wrap themselves around my legs to slow my efforts in hopes that I would give up so they could retain their false sense of permanence.


Melody & Carter clearing the brush after I removed the white picket fence.

As we worked toward clearing the “garden,” our neighbors began telling us the history of our new home and our new garden. These stories started out wonderful. One neighbor told us how the owners before the previous owners had trucked in loads of special dirt for that garden – we began to get excited.

Another neighbor told how it had been quite a productive garden for the previous owners, and they had even installed an irrigation system that would make our ability to grow things so much easier – we got even more excited.

Another neighbor told us stories of someone actually living in a tent in that garden. Year round. Wait. What?

They made it clear that when they said “living,” that they meant all aspects of “living.” This perma-camper garden resident was not allowed access to the “facilities” in the house which meant… Well you know what that meant, and I was not a fan of humaneur. The neighbors went on to tell us how some of the previous family’s pets were buried in there somewhere as well. The idea that this was a “fairy tale garden” was the real fairy tale.

That settled in our minds that we would definitely not be eating food from that little patch of land, but we did not want to give up the idea of growing our own food.

new and beautiful

This is our actual garden.

We eventually built a patio with raised garden beds laid into it. We trucked in our own special dirt (free of humaneur and animal carcasses) and began our own gardening adventure.

While this is an entertaining story, the purpose is not simply to entertain. This experience awakened something foreign in me that had never shown itself – an interest in being environmentally conscious.

But being conscious of your environmental encompasses so many different aspects. What is the correlation you ask?

We started caring about our environment when we started caring about our food. The moment I began to realize that I was actually going to eat food from the land I lived on, I began to care about the land I lived on in a different way and the impact my choices would have on it. This has been an interesting journey for me as for much of my life I have been a self-professed litter bug who didn’t care about the environment at all. I lived in a fairy tale world where as long as my food looked presentable, it didn’t matter how people grew it. As long as my lawn was green and lush, it didn’t matter how many chemicals I sprayed to make it that way.

Facing the potential nastiness of what was in the soil in our own back yard was nightmarish, snapping me out of the fairy tale into reality. Our new garden is beautiful and gives us quite a bit of produce each year. It is clean because we have taken steps to ensure that it is. This is the portion of our blog that we will detail the steps we have already taken to be more environmentally conscious, as well as those we have yet to take. We will talk about how living the tiny life positively affects the environment as well.

We also (which you may have noticed from the picture) have chickens, but that’s another topic for another post.

The purpose of this post is not to educate you on how we intend to be more environmentally conscious — we will have a lot of posts about that as we get further along on our journey. I just wanted to give you a bit of insight into how I came to care. What are some things that have caused you to care about your environment?




In addition to working a full-time job as a project manager, Darren is a researcher, an experimenter, a builder, a general jack of all trades. He loves his wife and his children immensely and could not be more excited for this adventure for SO MANY reasons, but chiefly how it will bring our family closer together.

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