What happens when former big city dwellers start homesteading in North Carolina? They become passionate about leading others to greater self-sufficiency. I recently sat down with Chantel and Emanuel to learn more about their off the grid life and beautiful property, lovingly named Homestead Asili.
1. Forgive me – I am having a little bit of a fan girl moment. I am so in love with the idea of living on a farm. I even have fantasies of how my little slice of homestead heaven in going to look. You are living my dream! Tell us more about how you came to live off the grid.
Thank you! August 2015, my youngest brother died from complications of a gun shooting. That rocked my world. I began thinking about the various systems that played in my brother’s death such as lack of quality jobs, the closing of schools, and poor access to healthy and nutritious foods. It was widely known that my brother was involved in gang and drug activity but choosing that lifestyle becomes an easy choice when your basic needs are not met in your community. We see this a lot in poor black and brown communities. So I decided that I wanted to take control of my basic needs. I wanted to free myself from the government and corporations and monitor my health and environment. The earth provides everything we need to thrive! The sun rises for light and energy. The rain provides water. The soil is your source to grow food.
2. I want to know all about Homestead Asili. Everything!
I would not be where I am in my homesteading journey with out my lifetime partner, Emanuel. We met a year and a half ago while he was living off grid and reimagining how he wanted to farm. When we met, I was already thinking about farming and how I could take back control of my health and get back to the core of me! It did not take much convincing from Emanuel, to join the homesteading journey. One day we were thinking about what to call our homestead. We wanted something that reminded us of our ancestors and had something to do with agriculture. After a bit of searching we settle on Asili, which means, origin, ancestor, or nature.
I love our homestead name! The core definition of homestead is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. When you add Asili to the mix, homesteading, for us is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency in line with nature and how our ancestors once lived. This life was simple, I imagine, with little material possessions and useful systems set in place to meet their basic needs. At Homestead Asili, we manage every aspect of our home. We live in a 192 square foot tiny house on wheels. This was an amazing hand me-up we received from the Discovery Channel’s show Homestead Rescue. Emanuel and I were on episode four, titled “Homestead of Horror.”
We are pretty fortunate as beginning homesteaders to have this tiny house! And it has everything we need. We use solar power for lights and store power in batteries for evening use. Our waste management consists of a composting toilet and we use our wastewater for water our garden. We also have a number of animals; chicken, ducks, turkeys, sheep, pigs, and a dog. We just started our fall garden. I’m looking forward to planting strawberries, garlic, onion, and ginger this fall for next year’s harvest. As I right this, I can’t help but smile. It’s hard work living off grid but I love it! The earth is truly our home. That’s the mission of Off Grid In Color lead others to greater self-sufficiency through our farm raised food, birth coaching, and community outreach is to get
3. Minimalism looks different for everyone. What does minimalism mean to you and your family?
Freedom. Minimalism not only frees one from material possessions but it frees your body mind and spirit. It frees time, space, and money. It brings clarity and breathes creativity. It makes room for valuables that we think have no value. For us, minimalism means thinking more about what we have and need. It has opened opportunities for us and helped us think of different ways to get things done.
4. I have found the creative mind often needs a bit of minimalism to thrive. How does it help your creative process?
Minimalism encourages us to use what we have and maximize it! We recently moved to a wooded location. It’s a beautiful place but we don’t have much pasture. We found a cleared spot to start a garden and we had a friend till the area. However, we did not have all of the traditional “stuff” needed to start a garden like compost and fertilizer. We really wanted a fall garden and running out of time. Our first thought was to just buy some compost and starter plants just to get the garden going. But we took a step take back realized that we had more than we needed to get started. We decided to start a hugelkulture, which is essentially starting raised garden beds with dead wood. Using this method you are able to avoid massive amounts or irrigation and fertilizer because these raised beds hold moisture and provides their own nutrition due to the organic matter from the wood. This took zero dollars to implement. All it took was a little bit of reimagining what was already available. I believe our interpretation of minimalism also attributed to this method of gardening.
5. What advice to you have for those just starting their journey towards a minimalist lifestyle?
Don’t be a fanatic about it. Ease into it and don’t try to do everything at once. When I first started down this path, I remember getting rid of a bunch of dishes but it took me over a year to get rid of storage container full of high school, college, and graduate school memories. And that’s ok. Things in our life have a purpose. Minimalism involves constant reflection and evaluation. So when it’s time to deepen your minimalism journey, let it happen organically (of course with some effort and accountability) but don’t sweat the small stuff.
6. Anything else you’d like to share, particularly for anyone considering living the homestead life?
Homesteading looks different for everyone. However, similar to my idea about minimalism, homesteading is freeing. It’s a constant reminder of our ability to do for our community and ourselves. With the advances of technology and mass production of everything, from clothes to food, we’ve forgot how to live in partnership with the earth. It’s nothing more fulfilling than spending less than three bucks on a pack of tomatoes seeds and having more tomatoes that I can eat. When you homestead, you know where your food comes from. You’re more prepared to endure natural disasters. When money gets tight, many of your basic needs are covered. Homesteading is hard work. There’s a bit of a learning curve. And I can NEVER seem to keep my floors clean. But life is simple and forgiving. You learn so much and are able to try new ways of doing things. You develop a new sense of patience and a new love for living. When you homestead, you lose nothing and gain the earth. Peace, Love, and Healthy Living!
Thank you so much, Chantel & Emmanuel! You can learn more about homesteading via their YouTube channel, Off Grid in Color, and follow their journey on Instagram @offgridincolor and @homesteadasili.