Thoughts from the Exit and Build Land Summit in Texas

This past weekend I attended the Exit and Build Land Summit hosted by the Live Free Academy in partnership with Texas Freedom Cell Network. There was some great speakers including Breanne and her husband William from Plum Fabulous Foods who shared their experience growing over 3,000lbs of food on just 0.7 acres. And one of my personal heroes, Joel Salatin delivered an excellent session via Zoom that encouraged listeners to take action now – wherever you are at on your journey. 

But overall, the summit didn’t deliver the practical homesteading and community building knowledge I was looking for. I was hoping to learn more about building vibrant, resilient communities. Communities with minimal reliance on the global economy. Communities focused on local solutions to food, energy, health and entertainment. Instead, I quickly discovered the summit was focused on something else.

Resilient or Intentional?

The primary topic of the Exit and Build Land Summit was intentional communities. And, I learned, there’s a big difference between the definition of resilient and intentional communities. To put it a bit more clearly – the summit was really all about creating new communes. 

I can understand why some folks would be attracted to that idea. There’s a long history of communes leading back to the industrial revolution that I encourage you to research. I have a friend, who after the dissolution of her long-time marriage, is eager to find footing in this new phase of life. For her, an intentional community offers up an attractive option in her retired years. And I can understand why.

I personally prefer to maintain a level of independence and self-reliance on my own homestead. And, at the same time, build up my local community so I can minimize the money I spend with giant corporate-owned businesses. To me, communal living strikes me as an exchange for one set of rules for another. Much akin to H.O.A. or any other institution that limits what I can and can’t do on my property.

Songbirds and Prairie Flowers

With its focus on building these intentional communities the Exit and Build Land Summit slapped me as more of a giant sales pitch. We heard from Real-Estate Agents, Brokers, Consultants, Architects and of course the founder of Live Free Academy, John Bush, whom encouraged attendees to sign up for his other classes (at a cost). 

I don’t want to throw stones, but it’s hard for me to take “exit and build” advice from someone that recently bought a brand new Tesla and sent out a newsletter about it. Some of the key values I hold include humility, frugality, and determination. Moving to the country isn’t all songbirds and prairie flowers. It takes hard work, grit and sacrifice to “exit” urban life and “build” a thriving one in a rural setting. Emphasis on thrive

At one point speakers discussed the idea of buying 50-100 acres of rural land and building a condo on it. I visibly cringed and had to fight back NIMBY thoughts as I sat through the rest of the sessions. It’s ironic to think that you can take the same constructs of city life, move it to the country and expect a different result.

For a while I felt a bit isolated in my thinking (am I just a grumbly old grinch? Could communes work for most of these people?). But then, another attendee stood up and asked the question I wasn’t brave enough to ask. Why build NEW communities? Why not instead revive and revitalize the existing small towns that are speckled throughout Central Texas?Could we instead focus on helping people build their own homesteads and cultivate a thriving community to exchange goods and support each other with knowledge? The speaker responded back that then “you have to deal with the existing community”. Wait, shouldn’t you want to involve the community? 

Dream Big

I applaud the mindset of the attendees and the organizers. A lot of work goes into organizing an event like this. The unspoken, but understood catalyst for the summit is wavering confidence in our modern socio-economic system. People are worried, even scared that the systems we depend on for food, energy and money are crumbling away. The supply chain shortages, rising inflation and divisive mandates don’t help. There was a silent, but palpable urgency driving attendees to seek a solution as quickly as possible. 

So what to do? Joel Salatin offered up words of wisdom that I encourage all to take to heart: start with where you are at now. That could be raising tomatoes in containers. Or a small herb garden on your kitchen counter. It could be purchasing bulk veggies from the farmers market and canning them for your pantry. It could be also be as big as quitting your job, cashing out your retirement and purchasing a homestead. The options are endless. 

But the other thing Salatin said? Give yourself permission to DREAM BIG. I can personally attest that this small piece of advice has HUGE implications. For years (decades) I dreamed of building a homestead – a forest farm more specifically. But it wasn’t until my dream became crystal clear that the proverbial dominoes started to topple. Until you have a strong vision, it’s impossible to take steps towards transforming vision into reality. 

So while you spend your Sunday afternoon canning 30lbs of tomatoes instead of binge-watching the latest Netflix special, use that time to imagine your own docu-drama about your future self. 

1 Comment

  1. whimsicalmoonherbs November 12, 2021 at 5:04 am

    I applaud your blog post today. As someone living on an ‘old family’ farm in Central Indiana bucking traditional mono-crop productions and overhead fertilizer raining down on the land, I too research and read voraciously everything intended towards healthy small production farms. I have also noticed a wavering view point of creating healthier farm land as a small family farmer to creating ‘intentional communities’. Great post, Chelz! (I had to look up what NIMBY means. I guess I’m an ‘older Grinch’, too, because I love that phrase!)