Meet Erin, a Bay Space city farmer and astrologist who sees Bitcoin and homesteading as community-focused methods of changing into self-sufficient.
On this version of the “Bitcoin Homesteaders Interview Series,” I spoke with Erin, who constructed an city farm within the yard of her rented condominium within the San Francisco Bay Space.
I initially met Erin at a Bay Space Bitcoin Meetup and was struck by her extensive 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 working a podcast referred to as “Hell Money” with Casey Rodarmor (the Ordinals man).
She’s additionally reaching youngsters together with her adventures into city farming through TikTok — so observe her there should you’d prefer to be taught extra about how she produces abundance out of her yard.
Erin and I talked about how she received her begin with homesteading by likelihood, the distinctive challenges and benefits of city farming, paying it ahead, the longer term for San Francisco and the astrology of Bitcoin. I hope you take pleasure in!
Sidd: Thanks for becoming a member of me, Erin! Simply 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: Positive. So, I began homesteading sort of accidentally. I moved out to the Bay Space about 4 and a half years in the past. And when my boyfriend and I had been looking for a spot to reside, we had been simply trying on Craigslist for a spot with a yard. We knew we wished to do some gardening, however we didn’t have massive plans.
We got here throughout a Craigslist advert with no footage — it was perhaps two sentences lengthy saying principally, “Hey, I would like a sublet for six months. If you’re prepared to feed the chickens, I’ll provide you with low cost hire.” We responded to it, although we thought it could be pretend. But when it occurred to be actual, we thought it might be a great spot for us.
We discovered the one that posted the advert was Novella Carpenter, who’s virtually a neighborhood Bay Space superstar. She’s an city homesteader who wrote a ebook referred to as “Farm Metropolis” 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 supplied to promote it to Novella.
She purchased it and constructed out a whole city farm that’s referred to as Ghost City Farm. She emailed us from her private electronic mail whereas we had been going backwards and forwards in regards to the itemizing, so we discovered 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 condominium. We simply resolved to reside there regardless. It felt like a synchronicity, an exquisite factor to be welcomed into.
That six-month sublet ended up turning right into a 12 months residing at Ghost City Farm. Nonetheless, she ended up leaving after that 12 months, since she solely owned the lot subsequent door and never the home she was residing in. When she left, she requested us if we wished to take the chickens. We agreed and located one other six-month sublet that was prepared to have our chickens within the yard. We crammed a U-Haul filled with fruit timber in trash cans, cuttings in planters and eight chickens.
We moved in a month earlier than COVID.
As soon as we settled into the brand new place, we discovered that we received together with the owner and felt comfy 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 dwelling all day, every single day. We spent the primary three months simply working within the yard and setting every part up. The yard itself is lower than 1 / 4 acre. It’s not an enormous yard. However we’ve sort of been in a position to determine a scenario with some raised beds, some stuff within the floor, after which the chickens.
Humorous sufficient, a lot of the yard after we moved in was really concrete. The man who owned the home earlier than our landlord was a concrete layer who would check 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. As an alternative, we contacted native arborists — those who minimize down timber — and we received 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 in a position to take it, as a result of they simply must eliminate it.
From an city soil perspective, loading mulch on that concrete is definitely an incredible factor to have the ability to do since you don’t actually know what’s within the soil in an city setting. Even when 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, will not be zero. Until you actually go foot by foot and check 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 quite a lot 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 thus far.
Sidd: And what’s your private background? What else are you doing outdoors of homesteading and the way did you uncover Bitcoin?
Erin: Properly, I’m initially from Pennsylvania, and that’s the place I lived till we moved out right here. I moved to the Bay Space to begin a PhD program in Earth and planetary science at UC Berkeley. I’m at present within the PhD program, and that’s what I do for cash.
I fell in love with Bitcoin after we had been residing at Ghost City Farm initially. That was the primary time I ever purchased bitcoin as effectively. So, beginning homesteading and moving into Bitcoin had been on an identical timeline for me.
Outdoors of that, I even have a podcast referred to as “Hell Money.” I do quite a lot of astrology stuff as effectively, which we are able to get into later.
Sidd: What are you producing proper now in your homestead?
Erin: So, we have now orange and lemon timber, a few of that are nonetheless in trash cans, and a few of that are within the floor. Placing 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 after we transfer out some day.
Then we have now 13 chickens in a single space producing eggs. Though, I’ll say, even in Northern California winters, they don’t produce very a lot until you might have a warmth lamp. We get quite a lot of eggs — sufficient for the 2 of us — after which some further through the spring, summer season and fall.
We have now two areas by way of rising. There’s a perennial permaculture space that’s principally herbs and crops that simply keep within the floor and produce a brand new harvest after they’re prepared. Then we have now two raised beds that we use for crops that we harvest on an annual foundation and that we rotate.
Proper now, the beds are empty. We’re simply getting issues began for subsequent 12 months. It’s our fourth summer season residing on this home, so we’re attending to the purpose the place we have now to essentially care about soil well being for annual crop rotation. Once you backyard within the first 12 months or so, in case your soil is in fine condition, every part’s nice. After that, should you’re not excited about easy methods to fertilize issues and ensure that your soil is effectively balanced, it might probably actually begin to go dangerous.
We’re centered on getting soil exams completed to get a way for our soil well being, so we are able to keep that into this 12 months. We even have worm composting, which I like to recommend to anybody who even has identical to a tiny yard.
Worm composting is principally 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 shortly in a really space-efficient manner. The underside 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 part? What was the method of getting it began while 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 dwelling. That helped with a number of 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 15 minutes of upkeep or checkup through the day — that makes an enormous distinction. So, a distant job the place you’re working from dwelling is ideal.
Fortuitously, it was additionally a very nice option to see mates at the moment. Within the early days of COVID, folks had been not likely leaving the home or doing something. So, folks had been keen even to come back over and transfer mulch round for 4 hours. That meant we received quite a lot of assist.
I feel residing in an city setting, 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 have now massive duties which are loads for simply two folks to do, we’re often capable of finding some mates that prefer to make a cute sort of cottage day trip of it.
Sidd: How did you learn to arrange and run your homestead?
Erin: A variety 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. Once we took cuttings from her crops, we had been already aware of how they behave in the event that they’re doing effectively or not.
I didn’t develop up doing this, and neither did my boyfriend. Our experiences with Novella and the web received 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 quite a lot 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. These rules assist me to maintain asking, “What’s it I’m really attempting to do right here?” so I put extra thought into my designs.
Our studying path has been a mix of that preliminary mentorship, quite a lot of Googling after which simply experimenting and willingness to fail. We’re not doing this for revenue or attempting to reside fully off our land which implies we have now an enormous margin for error.
Sidd: What labor is concerned now in working your backyard and the chickens?
Erin: It is determined by the time of 12 months, and since we’re doing it for enjoyable as a substitute of to outlive, it additionally is determined by how motivated we’re and the way a lot time we have now to commit. Within the spring, from February to April, is probably the most intensive time since you’re sprouting seeds and it’s a must to plant every part. That’s the planting and sowing seed stage.
As soon as every part is within the floor, we have now drip irrigation. We don’t must 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 need to refill that like as soon as each different week and acquire eggs, which isn’t work — that’s enjoyable.
The door to the hen coop opens and closes with the solar utilizing a light-weight sensor, and the chickens are like robots — they know to go out and in of the coop. So, the extent of labor is actually 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, changing into a delegated work day to do a little bit of upkeep.
Should you’re working from dwelling, and you may spare 15 minutes 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. Particularly chickens.
I like to recommend chickens to everybody who has a yard. I feel they’re loads simpler than folks initially anticipate. I’m positive if we hadn’t inherited chickens, it might have been an enormous resolution to get them. However now, we’re by no means going to reside with out chickens. They’re part of our life and now we all know how straightforward they’re.
Sidd: What in regards to the noise from chickens — does that ever trouble you or your neighbors?
Erin: They’re noisy, and roosters is usually a lot. Nonetheless, we’re in a metropolis anyway. Most individuals are used to noise. They’re anticipating it.
The primary issue for us was discovering landlords which are cool with them. On this space, neighbors aren’t the issue. It’s Berkeley folks, they suppose 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. As soon as he realized we had a clue, he cherished us and loved having us as neighbors. That was a humorous form of rite-of-passage expertise.
Sidd: So, stroll me by way of all of the fruits, greens and herbs you’re rising.
Erin: We have now virtually infinite lemons and oranges 12 months 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 probably the most scrumptious raspberries I’ve ever had. We randomly planted artichoke, which is perennial. It’s at all times doing tremendous effectively.
After which we have now quite a lot of herbs. These 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 wished various therapeutic choices. One among my favourite issues to do is an enormous harvest of herbs. I dangle them to dry after which experiment with totally different tea blends.
We have now to determine what to plant for the summer season within the raised beds. My grandfather on my mother’s facet was an avid tomato gardener in Pittsburgh who saved seeds each single 12 months. I used to be in a position to get a few of his seeds from the 2008 planting, and already received some to sprout and develop. I saved seeds from those who we are able to plant once more.
Lastly, we develop quite a lot of weed yearly, contained in the authorized quantity in California of six crops. We’re legally rising extra weed than we might ever presumably smoke. I simply give it away.
Sidd: Should you transfer, are you going to dig every part up? Or take cuttings and begin anew?
Erin: So, we really reside in a duplex, and our new neighbors that moved in a 12 months in the past stated they selected this place partially due to all of the work we had completed. They wished 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, after we lastly do transfer out sometime, relying on the dynamics of who’s residing upstairs, we would simply depart it for them. We might simply take cuttings of no matter we would like, principally. Having moved a lot from sublet to sublet, I feel it’s good to depart issues higher than you discovered them. To offer the folks shifting in one thing they’re in a position to make use of and construct off is a very nice feeling to have upon shifting out of a spot.
It’s paying it ahead. If we simply moved into an empty lot, I can’t think about what we might be doing now. We had been lucky to see different folks doing it, and there’s quite a lot of generosity in wanting to maintain the land going the way in which that it’s fairly than tearing every part out and taking it with you.
Sidd: What are your ideas on the significance of genetics within the crops you’re rising?
Erin: After I take into consideration genetics, I take into consideration biodiversity. Usually talking, I lean within the doomsday prepper route. 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 “nervousness” within the background — however I simply suppose it’s realism in regards to the state of issues.
So, after we had been establishing 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.
Little or no 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 effectively in my microclimate. At this level, a pair years in, the easiest way for me to do this is to save lots of seeds myself yearly. Long run, 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 quite a lot of methods. Nonetheless, it appears you’re excited about it in a extra communal manner. Why do you suppose that’s? What function does neighborhood play in your homesteading journey?
Erin: I feel it’s a little bit of a way of life distinction given I reside in an city space. I’m not in a position to fortify and shut myself off the way in which I feel lots of people who do that form of life-style are. And at this stage of my life I don’t suppose that’s one thing that I need to do.
For instance, I really like that there’s actually one Bitcoin meetup every week, no less than in my space. I like residing someplace the place there’s loads occurring and it’s straightforward for me to work together with folks and be part of one thing better than myself. I’d fairly attempt to construct up my neighborhood round me than simply survive remoted with my household.
I’m positive I received 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. Shopping for bitcoin might be one other one. Rising a backyard makes you extra independent and means that you can provide primary must folks round you. When you have a pair toes of grime, you are able to do that. I undoubtedly went by way of a section the place I believed we would have liked to maneuver to the center of nowhere and fortify, however I’ve gotten previous that now.
We’re additionally lucky to reside in an space with many strong regenerative farms with community-supported agriculture (CSA) drop offs, so we have now a vegetable CSA and a meat CSA. That’s one other benefit of residing in a populated space — you might have entry to loads higher meals sources that may nonetheless be very native. We have now many choices right here from city farms to the broader Bay Space, which is why I don’t really feel such a powerful must subsist off simply what I develop. I’d fairly simply be part of that community personally.
Sidd: Again to Bitcoin. I observed a powerful curiosity in homesteading amongst Bitcoiners after I traveled throughout the U.S. this 12 months. What’s your learn on that? Is there actual curiosity in shifting again to the land and farming?
Erin: I feel it’s actual. However 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 really depart society. I imagine in my energy as part of a neighborhood sufficient that I feel I could make change, throughout the space that I’m in. I don’t know that I’d really feel that manner if I lived some other place.
The Bay Space has a powerful gradual meals motion left from the hippies within the ’60s and ’70s, and I really feel like folks listed here are extra okay with various 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 which you could really attempt to deal with as a person or as a household, which isn’t the case for lots of political points.
If you’re that nervous in regards to 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 effectively. In my eyes, decentralization is a large a part of this new motion of rising issues the best manner and incorporating animals into your rising ethically. I don’t suppose that we are able to have a vegan, plant-based agricultural system — we’d like animals to be part of that. And I really like that plenty of Bitcoiners get that.
There’s additionally a parallel between Bitcoin and homesteading in methods design. You may have to have the ability to zoom out and admire the system as an entire. In an incredible backyard, you’re establishing the best rising situations in order that the stuff you plant all contribute to one another and soil well being is maintained. That’s a chic system that’s actually sustainable — not sustainable in a buzzwordy manner. Bitcoin and its incentive construction are equally sustainable.
Sidd: I need to get your tackle what’s occurring in San Francisco. In a latest “Hell Cash” 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 capturing heroin outdoors and feces on the street. What’s your learn on what’s occurring in S.F.?
Erin: That’s a tricky one. There are lots of people that make some huge cash residing in S.F., however I feel they’re not very invested in San Francisco in the long run. After I take into consideration the folks I do know who reside in San Francisco, they go to Tahoe to ski each weekend. As soon as they’ve youngsters, they transfer out of S.F. I feel there are extra canine than youngsters within the metropolis of San Francisco.
This can be a generalization, however I really feel quite a lot of tech individuals are positive to simply order DoorDash and hand around in their condominium through the week, then go away on the weekends. I don’t suppose there’s the identical degree of funding in residing in San Francisco as someplace like Los Angeles or New York — which have excessive revenue as effectively.
San Francisco folks strike me as both shut-ins or outdoorsy. In each instances, they’re not going out within the city and experiencing issues. I’ve nonetheless not absolutely wrapped my head across the homeless scenario or how folks clarify that to themselves. After I go to San Francisco, it shakes me to my core. One thing must be completed however I do not 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, no less than. Homelessness has grow to be such an ingrained a part of the politics right here: Nobody actually is aware of easy methods 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 Space 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 most likely the perfect life-style by way of what I’m in search of out of life: a yard, chickens and low-key neighbors. There’s no house owner’s affiliation to take care of. However I can take the bus to work, we are able to bike wherever we would like, it’s a really walkable space.
Sidd: The place do you suppose San Francisco is heading? What’s going to it appear like in 20 years?
Erin: My hope is that the tech sector ultimately peters out of the Bay Space. 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 reside there. It’s an exquisite 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 way of 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, actually. The extra I discovered about it, the extra my world formed round it. I began seeing issues in that framework, and it turned the dominant manner that I understood life.
I feel perception and religious construction are a pure a part of the human expertise. So, you’ll be able to both be self aware of it, acknowledging what you imagine and that it’s not one thing you’re going to logically justify. Or, you’ll be able to attempt to faux you don’t need to 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 find out about astrology, and I at all times discover new methods to know the world with it. Nonetheless, I additionally contemplate myself a science individual that enjoys pondering logically. I simply consider them as being totally different instruments in a device belt. Each have their limitations. However once more, should you don’t have the religious understanding, I feel you’ll fill it with one thing else. That might be an ideology or a form of spiritual interpretation of science, however you’re going to create a perception construction even should you suppose you don’t imagine in something.
Sidd: You’ve talked about the astrological age of Aquarius many occasions in podcasts: What’s that and what does it say about every part 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 implies the equinox factors in a unique route over time, into totally 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 usually regarded as a really quintessential Pisces power, 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 power.
The final 2,000 years have been so dominated by the most important monotheistic religions, with the way in which folks decide what’s good, what’s useful, what’s authorized even, all derives from these monotheistic buildings. Even the Gregorian calendar we use at this time 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 this time; of the soup that we’re residing 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 12 months 2000 and even the 12 months 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 suppose the transition to the data age and the dissolution of the hierarchical construction we had earlier than are massive themes. There are all these totally different sorts of decentralized methods of figuring out what’s useful and true, like Bitcoin, however they’re additionally so chaotic proper now. That’s age of Aquarius power.
My Bitcoin journey is definitely tied to astrology as effectively. I wasn’t following it intently, however I used to be shopping for small quantities as a doomsday prep of types as a buffer in opposition to an financial 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 power would are available, filling the void left from COVID.
The day of the conjunction, as we had been driving out to the seashore, I checked out my cellphone and realized bitcoin was again as much as $18,000. That felt like age of Aquarius power. Throughout 2021, bitcoin’s value adopted the developments of Jupiter intently. So, seeing all these Aquarius transits occur with Bitcoin, I resolved to be taught extra about it. I discovered an in-depth article in regards to 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 clarification for the latest bitcoin run up?
Erin: So, this weekend I’m assembly up with some Bitcoin astrologers. After all, this isn’t an astrologically-random time: we’re assembly up for the brand new moon in Aquarius. So, at this time is Tuesday the 17th of January, and there’s a brand new moon in Aquarius on Saturday the 21st. The brand new moon will likely be in the identical space that Pluto will go into between March and June this 12 months. So, I feel this will likely be a sneak peek into what Pluto in Aquarius will carry. After Pluto leaves Aquarius this 12 months, it would re-enter in 2024 and keep till 2044.
So, we’re getting just a little blip of what that new power coming in could be.
Sidd: Thanks for sharing your ideas, Erin!
This can be a visitor put up by Captain Sidd. Opinions expressed are completely their very own and don’t essentially replicate these of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Journal.