Urban Homesteading With Kids
Avishag Kopelman Bachar went from fashion designer dreaming of vacation to urban homesteader spending everyday outdoors. Read on to see how HomeBiogas fits into her everyday life...
‘Do we have anything to feed the hippo?”
It’s a fairly common question I hear from my kids these days, especially when their friends come over. While we do love and feed our pets, the ‘hippo’ my children are referring to falls into a category of its own. Our HomeBiogas system, lovingly referred to as ‘the hippo’ by my children due to it’s round, floppy appearance and the fact that it ‘eats’ our herbivorous leftovers, among other things, has been a welcome addition to our permaculture lifestyle.
From Fashion Designer to Urban Homesteader
Once upon a time, four years ago to be exact, I was a 37 week pregnant mother of two, who worked very hard, both in designing clothing, selling over 10,000 items a year on my etsy shop, and in raising my children, along with my partner. I was also constantly dreaming of vacation. I worked hard so that I could play hard. Dreaming of getting out into the greenery, both in Israel and abroad, was what kept me moving in my day-to-day life.
And so that is how during the Passover (easter) break, looking to do some fun activities with my two young children, I ended up enjoying a spontaneous weeklong exploration, making my way from the center of Israel down to the south. During that vacation I realized that I was ready to stop living for my vacations.
With a degree in textile design and another in economics and management, I decided to leave my job as a fashion designer and transitioned to a more self-sustaining lifestyle. I clean my own house and grow much of my own food and in return I get to experience the beauty of nature in my day to day life.
Continuing to Live Creatively
What I loved about creating clothing is just that, the creating. Once I realized that I could apply this to any aspect of my life, just like the concept of exploring, life became much more fulfilling.
Today my family raises roosters for their eggs and we raise bees, not for their honey, but just because we love bees. We grow a vegetable and fruit garden which provides us with a lot of our food. People wonder if I miss the creativity of my job as a fashion designer and the answer is no. The wonderful thing about growing a garden with the principles of permaculture, the philosophy of working with nature rather than against it, is that I put my creative energy into designing our garden. You won’t find straight lines in my garden. It’s our own work of art and we put a lot of thought into the placement of each thing that we grow, keeping the soil fertile and healthy.
Connecting with HomeBiogas and Creating My Own Energy
When I first connected with HomeBiogas it felt like a natural next step in the life that I’ve been building. Thanks to our garden, my family and I understand the connection between vegetables and soil and we have the chance to witness the cycle of growing food, producing food waste and then growing food again. Up until we started using our HomeBiogas system, we would compost all of our food waste, a process that took about six months to be completed.
Now instead of composting our food waste, we feed it all to our HomeBiogas 2, aka ‘the hippo’ in our garden. Through the very nifty and natural process of anaerobic digestion, our HomeBiogas digester takes our organic waste and converts it into two incredible resources. The first is biogas, a natural and safe gas which goes through a pipe and straight into my kitchen where we cook our food. The second wonderful thing that comes out of our garden hippo is the natural and nutrient rich liquid fertilizer that is produced at the same time as our biogas and which we use to continue to plant and grow our garden.
Living Life Our Way
When I trace my journey it seems to all make sense and I realize that this lifestyle change wasn’t actually a snap decision, even though the vacation served as a catalyst of sorts. I understand now, that I was tired of living for vacation and had slowly been gravitating toward a life where I could weave exploration and sustainability into my day, every single day.
If I had had a different kind of pregnancy or two children who weren’t itching to explore during Passover (easter) vacation, perhaps I’d still be a fashion designer dreaming of my next vacation. But, I’d still need to eat, I’d still need to feed my children and we would still produce food waste.
Harnessing the power of naturally occurring biogas for use is not a new idea, however, it is pretty new that digesters are being made for use in personal homes. Although I have chosen to lead the off-road lifestyle, what is wonderful about my little hippo, the HomeBiogas 2, is that it can fit into a lot of different lifestyles. Afterall, even for those leading more conventional lives, what parent doesn’t cook up eggs and cut up veggies for an easy dinner one night?
That’s where our happy, helpful hippo comes in.
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