A weekend visit to “A Little Land–A Lot of Living”

Me and Ryan Brown

This weekend we had the pleasure of spending time with our friends Ryan and Collyn Brown. They live on a small homestead (a few acres) in Illinois and are beginning their work in developing the productive space. They are fortunate to have an excellent foundation to build from as the former owner had spent many years developing the fruitful production of the home site.

His plan comprised of lining the fence parameter with fruit, nut and evergreen trees and a 40 to 50 foot permanent asparagus bed. The trees in the parameter include several varieties of apple, cherry, walnut and chestnut.

The front yard adds more walnut and some very large pecan trees. Within the middle yard area, additional plantings of plum, pear and apple trees are interspersed with a couple of grape arbors.

Apple tree with moth trap

Grape arbor

Grapes up close

It was very impressive how well he used the space to create a cornucopia of productivity.

From this foundation, Ryan and Collyn are adding their own touches to the fruitful landscape by planting blackberries, additional fruit trees, starting a vegetable garden and adding farm animals beginning with broilers and laying hens in a chicken tractor.

Ryan created his own chicken tractor design. It is very clever and provides easy access to eggs. With some finishing touches still to complete, the tractor is a terrific addition to their small homestead.

Ryan Brown's chicken tractor

Ryan's chicken tractor egg access

They are experimenting with the Weedless Gardening technique based on the writings of Lee Reich. They have laid out their garden plan, set the markings for 40” wide beds with 18” pathways, laid down and wetted newspaper and put a top layer of mulch using rye bails and straw mulch. They’re off to a great start and I look forward to reporting on their progress using this method.

Brown weedless garden

The Brown homestead is an excellent example of utilizing a relatively small space very effectively, by building on what is already present and expanding from there to create a vibrant, life sustaining permaculture.

It reminds me of one of my favorite books written more than 60 years ago “The ‘Have More’ Plan ‘A Little Land—A Lot of Living” by Ed and Carolyn Robinson, published by Story Publishing LLC.

My best wishes to the Brown’s and a successful homesteading adventure!


Larry Braley

About Larry Braley

Blessed husband to a wonderful, virtuous woman and father of five, a daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Raised on a midsize farm in the midwest during my childhood and early teen years. Moved away for several years to live the corporate life. Glad to be back in the country raising my family, teaching life skills and developing our mini-farm.
This entry was posted in Gardening and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.