Isn’t it perfect life? Being complete self sufficient. In all areas. Growing your own food. No more walks to the supermarket. Not spending any money. No stress at work because of any dependency on your salary. Living in and from nature.
But is that really possible? And how? I went on a micro adventure to visit someone who can answer -once and for all- these questions.
On a Thursday morning I start cycling South. Loaded with a tent, sleeping bag and some food and drinks. I cycle towards Brakel In Belgium. In Brakel I will meet Marin. I know Marin from my friend Erwin, who walked three days together and during these days they eat only from nature. Yes, you read that right, three days hiking and only eating wild edible plants.
Marin has an uniq lifestyle. She has devoted her life to self sufficiency. No house or apartment she owns. She lives as much as she can an ecological lifestyle. She inspires me and I wanted to get to know her better. And for that I had to travel to the Boskanter in Brakel.
De Boskanter is an ecological farm and one of the most self sufficient communities in the Benelux. You can become a volunteer. As a volunteer you can live there, in exchange for five days a week for six hours a day working. Working can be anything, keeping the garden, emptying the compost toilets, cleaning or cooking food.
Marin is voluntering for a few months. She goes from place to place. Choosing to not own a place for herself. On a farm like the Boskanter she can live for a few euros a week. She writes, makes lots of salads from wild edible plants, photographs and builds an app about local food called Loka Loka.
After two days of cycling I arrive at the Boskanter on a Friday evening and am pleasantly welcomed by Marin. Marin immediately informs me that there is no shower. No shower? After two days of cycling? Well, there is a shower, outside in the cold with rainwater. I stay at the warm, just-fired rocket mass heater, my last adventure was already without a shower, I was getting used to it.
The next day I get a wild picking walk from Marin. Marin is an expert in picking wild edible plants. She reads a lot about this and also gives guided tours and lectures. I am often in nature, during cycling journeys, but wild-picking is something I have never really thought about before. There is a lot to pick and to eat from the wild, but more simple and what I do is diving into the supermarket for this.
Marin shows everything, such as field cherry, clover, sticky herb (galium aparine), look zonder look (a plant that taste like garlic), vetch, plantain, nettle, what you all can eat.
Marin also tells me that the crack of the weeping willow is a natural painkiller. You just nibble the strain and then your headache disappears That is super convenient.
Is it possible to live from wild picking?
Of course you can not live on a few leaves from nature. There is virtually no energy in it. You need something like rice, potatoes or pumpkin for the carbohydrates anyway. Furthermore, proteins and fats are important. Marin explains that wild-picking does not fill your plate but you can make a very tasty salad from wild edible plants.
Is it possible to live without the supermarket?
Marin takes care of the Boskanter together with the residents and a number of volunteers. Everyone contributes to as much self sufficient existence that is possible. Probably the only things they buy here are rice and wheat flour, tells Marin. A farmer is lent land that in return supplies vegetables to the farm. The toilet is a compost toilet and the compost is used after a year of composting to make soil fertile. There is no heating, in the evening the rocket mass heater is heated with wood for cooking and the kitchen stays warm after that. Sleeping takes place in the outside temperature, in a dormitory.
Living solo without a supermarket seems almost impossible. You can’t just catch wild animals here in the Netherlands. In a residential community such as the Boskanter much more is possible. You can simply grow potatoes, pumpkins, onions, beans and many other vegetables. Making wheat flour for bread is already a lot harder.
The nice thing is that in this way you can cut your fixed costs to as little as possible. Marin lives on a few euros a week. The biggest issue she has is a trip to the city with a friend. Public transport, a cup of coffee and buying something in the city is with this lifestyle costing a lot of money.
If you want to know more about self sufficient life, Marin writes about her green adventures (in Dutch language).