JIM GRAY – THE ACCIDENTAL FARMER
First, all the “nots”, as in, it’s not really an accident that I find myself thinking about and starting to practice some farming. And, since I’m not doing the work of a real farmer, I guess I’m not a farmer at all.
Also, for those in the Knoxville / East Tennessee area, I’m not Jim Gray the well-known artist. Until about three years ago, I lived in (the artist) Jim Gray’s neighborhood. He’s a great guy and a fine artist, but he left Knoxville and now he’s living in Florida. Those looking for his work – or those who send him prints asking for a signature (which sometimes get delivered to me) – you can reach that Jim Gray at: www.jimgraygallery.com
ith those “nots” out of the way, why should I think of myself as an accidental farmer? It all started when I heard that my friend David Bolt was leaving the solar installation business. Surprised at this news, I emailed David and asked what he was up to. “Permaculture” was the answer. I had heard the term and was curious enough to drive over to David’s office to see for myself. He told me about studying Permaculture on line and showed me a plan for converting his property into a “Permaculture Research Institute” (PRI). His goal was to join an international group of such ‘institutes’ started by Geoff Lawton. The idea was engaging and, since I was wrapping up my chairmanship with a local non-profit, I decided to get involved.
Now, two years later with thousands of hours of remodeling, rethinking, and revising and redirecting our efforts, David and I are finally getting two businesses off the ground. I’m focused on the Permaculture Institute, while David works on designing tiny houses and perfecting the design and construction of a line of chicken coops and tractors. In upcoming illustrated blogs, I’ll share with you the paths we have followed and the plans we have to be useful citizens, social entrepreneurs, and contributors to a Sustainable Future. While you’re waiting for those, take a cruise around our site and see the many elements that our East Tennessee PRI features.