Mark Mason is the owner of Million Daisy Farm in Eugene, Oregon, where Mike lives now and where many of the Foodscaping projects are underway or already completed.
1. When did you move to the farm, and how old were you?
I purchased Million Daisy Farm, and moved onto it, about eight years ago, when I was in my early 50s.
2. How many acres do you have, and would you explain the type of land it is (forest/meadow etc.)?
I have just over six acres, most of which is forest -- about an acre of rain forest around Fox Hollow Creek, and just over four acres of fir and hardwood forest. I also have about an acre of meadow around the house that gets a good amount of sunshine, and this is where the permaculture garden, including the orchard, is.
3. What made you choose this piece of land?
I walked the hillside and felt at home on it. I also loved the rainforest around the creek and meadow areas. The presence of the crag-top old-growth Douglas Fir the locals call the "Mother Tree" on the hillside also attracted me. I felt the land had a lot of potential, and needed the care I could give it, including organically replanting about three acres of the forest that had been logged and not replanted. I also liked most of my potential neighbors and the fact that they had formed the "Forestland No Spray Group" to keep aerial spraying of herbicides out of their valley and adjacent areas.
4. You've mentioned "a space of love" regarding the land, and in particular, near the cherry tree. Does this have any connection to the Ringing Cedars book series?
I consider the main area of permaculture garden, from the two Fuji apple trees through to and including the big native cherry tree with the swing on it, and including the fenced vegetable garden and the twelve blueberry bushes, to be a "space of love" in the sense that Anastasia uses the words in the first of the Ringing Cedar books. And I have put a lot of love, careful design and work into this area. Although I don't agree with all the ideas expressed in the Ringing Cedar books, I think everything Anastasia says about gardening is just wonderful, and especially her concept of the food garden as a "space of love."
5. How many trees have your planted in and around your property roughly?
I've planted about 470 forest trees and about 40 fruit trees and berry bushes.
6. Have you utilized permaculture practices on the farm? If so, where and how?
I have used permaculture practices everywhere and always on the farm. I have planted many perennials, and when doing vegetable gardens with annuals in them, have done them in ways suggested by permaculture books such as Gaia's Garden.
7. You sail around Mexico for roughly 6 months out of the year, when it gets cold in Eugene. Do you miss your space at that time?
Yes, I do miss my space at times when I'm away, but I don't miss the cold rainy winter weather! I'm pleased that you and Mike are looking after the place while I'm away, and am very interested to hear about what you have been doing there.
8. What advice do you have for those who are interested in land ownership to become more sustainable and live a more meaningful life?
If you have the means to buy some rural land, and are ready for the work of being a steward of that land, by all means follow your heart and do it! If you are going to want to go to town fairly often, I suggest buying a smaller property close to town, like I did. Look carefully before you buy. Meet your neighbors, make sure that there isn't a lot of toxic spraying going on near where you are buying. Make sure the property you are considering has a good well with plenty of clean drinkable water. It is quite common for rural properties to have arsenic in their well water, so watch out for that! Forest and farm land is has always been a good investment, from a money management point of view, and should continue to be. Make sure you love the land you buy -- you'll be spending a lot of time there and putting a lot of work into it.
9. How do you suggest one deals with toxic neighbors when one's own space feels so special?
I believe one of the big problems with our society at the moment is that many people are not considerate and respectful of others. Noise is often a problem in this regard, whether it be loud music, barking dogs or roosters crowing before dawn. If we are considerate and respectful of our neighbors that is a good start, but I believe that to really establish a climate of consideration and respect, we also have to quietly insist, when it is necessary, on being treated with consideration and respect by our neighbors. If we mention problems we are having to neighbors early in the piece, before we get too upset about them, we are more likely to get a better response. Communication can be difficult at times, especially with "toxic neighbors," but the reward of establishing a climate of consideration and respect is worth the effort. Non Violent Communication can help in dealing with difficult neighbors. Just letting a neighbor impose their stuff on you perpetually without doing anything about it will make you crazy. You'll feel like an animal in a zoo that has been tamed -- on the losing end of a power game you didn't start. I think it does make many people crazy in our society, and that much of the violence in society comes when people can't bear it any longer.
10. You have written a book called 'In Search of the Loving God.' Tell us about it.
In Search of the Loving God is about how Christianity got off the rails during medieval times, when it sought to control people through guilt and fear, but how Jesus' teachings really are about God reaching out to us in love, and how we can have a personal, loving relationship with God. The book presents a very different approach to Christianity than the typical evangelical one -- an approach more spiritual than religious. I could go on at length about different aspects of it, but I will refrain! If you would like to read more about it, including two complete chapters from the book, I invite you to visit my website at: www.markmason.net.