The rental market in the Bay Area has been slim pickings for several years so when this property came on the market Carl and Lisa jumped on it. The landlord was very apologetic about the state of the landscaping which consisted of a few rose bushes and dying lavender (and an abundance of Bermuda Grass). In permaculture we say “the problem is the solution” and Carl assured that this blank slate was a blessing rather than a curse. After yards of cardboard and compost, planter beds were installed in both the front and back yards. Native and drought-tolerant plants were procured and planted, many of which attracted bees and butterflies who had seemingly long forgot about this little rental property. A beautiful chicken coop made from reclaimed redwood from an old building just a few hundred yards away was installed next to two bee hives.
In mid 2014, Carl and neighbor Joel teamed up and opened up their homes for a greywater (Laundry-2-Landscape) workshop presented by Daily Acts. The workshop attracted over 50 attendees, many who have maintained contact.
It was wonderful to watch the landscape transform but something was missing. In the process of collecting cardboard for sheet mulching Carl and step-son Dylan stumbled upon some materials that would eventually become a “not-so-tiny free library” and subsequently was a huge success. Installed in 2014, it was the first known free library and according to a recent Press Democrat article there are now close to a dozen in Petaluma alone. Carl and Lisa are demonstrating that you don’t need to own in order to make a property a homestead.