Many people have asked if I have any before and after shots of the gardens at Faery Hof and Haus Am See. The answer is yes; however, the truth is that I was so overwhelmed and embarrassed by the “before” when we first rented the place that became Faery Hof that we did not photograph things to look as bad, challenging or unhealthy as they really looked. With a factory and railroad across the street, tree stumps and aggressive weeds all over the yard, and a general sense of poverty and neglect, we knew this place would provide the opportunity for the extreme urban gardening, land healing and wild foraging I felt called to do … but on a soul level, the contrast between what I intended and what my eyes and ears saw and heard felt like a daily kick in the gut.
All that feels difficult to believe now, whenever we gaze upon the beauty, health and abundance of our yards and now two homes — one we live in, the other a magical writing office, classroom, community potluck space, student guesthouse, and outdoor entertaining area. While the trains still whistle, a 2017 noise ordinance will make that illegal in town, and the most common sounds in both yards are wind in the trees and bird song. This spot’s magic has increased hundreds-fold, and the dimensional shift upon setting foot on this land or in either home feels palpable to anyone able to sense such things.
The other night I happened upon some old photos from 2012, 2013 and 2014, which shocked me in contrast to today’s abundance and beauty. You can still see and sense the potential in these early photos, but viewing them gave me much greater appreciation for the massive labor of love I’ve engaged in these past few years. For those who’ve wondered, here you go with some dated contrast:
The yard behind our house:
The back yard between our house and the blue house next door:
The front yard between the houses:
The front yard between our house and the blue house in May 2014 after the huge project of hauling concrete from the next door apartments to delineate raised beds in the front yard.
David took this photo of me in the front side yard with fellow permaculture enthusiast, blogger and InDiana resident, Ann Kreilkamp when she visited here in May 2014.
I don’t have time to photograph all the nooks and crannies of the yards to show before and after shots, but the changes are equally dramatic all around. Hopefully, this gives some sense of the original project and the ongoing transformation. I’d say I’m only about halfway finished in terms of results, although I’ve front-loaded many tons (literally) of labor that will begin to follow that adage of first year sleep, second year creep, third year leap, fourth year reap. Since this has been a multi-year process across two yards and several distinct microclimates, some areas have matured faster than others. Overall, though, I’m excited about the dimensional shift this yard and the two houses afford. And the food and flowers aren’t bad either!