Ben Falk wanted to have less of an impact on the environment, but when he started planting his own food he discovered something unexpected: He actually really enjoyed having a garden and harvesting his own food.

Then the Vermont resident realized how good the food tasted: His lettuce was fresher than any he could get from a local farmer. The natural world around him opened up: There was food — such as wild apples and hickory nuts — all around, and he could use it. He began to see his environment differently.

Meanwhile, his garden kept him in shape. After a day working in it, he slept soundly. He realized he enjoyed learning and trying new things. Sometimes his experiments didn’t work — such as storing squash in a closet. Other times, they did. He realized he could grow rice in a cold climate.

Falk, a permaculture expert, founder of Whole Systems Design and author of “The Resilient Farm and Homestead,” shared his homesteading journey in a TEDxTalk at SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, in 2013. Check it out below. (If you’re mainly interested in his discovery process, start it around 8:30.)

He explains how he came to a new realization — one perhaps many people producing their own food come to — in this way:

“I got into this not for something but to get away from something,” he says. “I was trying to not fund the destruction, not be part of it that much, that led me into being a producer. It was the mistreatment, the abuse of not just the Earth but the abuse of other living things. I was moving away from that. And I didn’t realize what was going to end up happening was that I was going to be getting close to the best lifestyle I can think up for myself.”

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Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on domestic and...