INTERVIEW TIME: A PEEK INTO THE LIFE OF A Homesteader and Master permaculture PRACTITIONER in australia who owns and operates a website all about SUSTAINABILITY and living-off-the-land.
Meet Elle Meager: Passionate Homesteader, Food Forest Cultivator, Herb Enthusiast, Master Gardener, Qualified Permaculture Teacher, and Co-Owner with her Husband Dan of the Website Outdoor Happens
An interview by Andreas Gross
Photographs provided by Elle Meager
Date of Interview: 11/17/2020
Hi there, Elle! Thank you for availing yourself to this interview today! What a treat to hear from you. Here at Biz Opp Empire we tell people’s stories of their journeys along the road to business success and financial independence, and yours is a beautiful story of both, and a wonderful reminder to us all that financial independence does NOT necessarily mean ‘becoming a multimillionaire,’ it just means unbinding yourself from the deadly 8 to 5 ‘rat race’ cycle and being able to enjoy YOUR life on YOUR terms. As a homesteader and permaculture practitioner with a website that brings in money, you and your family are doing just that! Let’s jump on in here and talk about all of this! Tell us a little bit about yourself for starters, will you, please? You know, some personal background about who you are, where you are coming from, and how your family got involved in the homesteading and living-off-the-land lifestyle you all are actively enjoying and practicing today.
Greetings, Andreas! Yes, the journey to financial independence – or any ‘independence,’ really – is just that, a journey, a continuing saga, not a one-stop destination. My family and I are still very much voyagers on this journey ourselves – a work in progress, if you will; but I suppose more discussion questions along these lines are probably coming later on in this interview.
Let’s see, some personal background…I was born in a rural area in Holland. My granddad and my uncles, all 7 of them, are farmers. They grow a variety of things, from cabbage and potatoes to freesias and tulips. For as long as I can remember, I worked on their farms on the weekends and during school holidays.
When I was 14, I started working on an organic permaculture farm, growing vegetables and tending to dairy cows. Although it was a lot more work without using pesticides and herbicides, I realized almost immediately that this was the way I wanted to live my life. I experienced first-hand how good this food was - free of chemicals and the flavor was amazing!
We’d spend long hours in the field, then go to the barn that was naturally heated from the dairy cows and eat our homemade bread with homemade cheese. It was incredible. This farm started my passion for permaculture and I went on to complete a Bachelor of Management, before traveling the world for 2 years. I lived and worked on a number of farms around the world, experiencing different cultures and learning their ways of life.
I met my husband during these travels, in one of the most remote places in the world - Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory of Australia. We’ve been inseparable ever since, and have added 2 little girls to our family, as well as 5 horses, 4 dogs, 10 chickens, and more cows than I can count.
We bought a 50-acre homestead in Queensland and started a mail-order organic edible plant nursery. I studied Naturopathy and crash-learned website development so I could set up a website to sell our plants from. The homestead was in a remote location, so we needed to find a creative way to make a living.
After 10 years of struggling with the severe drought conditions and wildfires in that area, we decided to make the big move to the tropics, where we’ve now happily lived for 2 years. This new property has allowed us to become almost fully self-sufficient, although there’s always more to learn and improve!
I decided to become a qualified permaculture teacher so I could teach these practices to other people to the best of my ability.
That’s some awesome dedication right there, Elle!
When the fire burns, stoke the flames; right, Andreas?!
Indeed! So you fanned the flames and now you’re homesteading in the tropics and running a website about living-off-the-land. Let’s talk about your current homestead and your website Outdoor Happens…what can you tell us about the homestead you are on now? And how does your website fit into it?
We choose this homestead because of its excellent soil and water availability. We have a creek at the back of the property and a river out the front. There’s nothing better than taking my girls and dogs for a swim in the river! Coming from a drought-stricken area, having so much water around is incredible.
We started Outdoor Happens at the same time as we moved to our new homestead, in 2018. We wanted to share our experience with other people on the same journey, and teach people who haven’t quite taken the plunge yet. We focus on gardening (particularly growing your own food), homesteading, raising animals, outdoor cooking, and the equipment you need on a farm.
Sounds like paradise! Let’s talk about your target audience? Who do you strive to reach through Outdoor Happens?
We love engaging with fellow homesteaders so we can learn from them and they can learn from us. There’s nothing better than connecting with people and collectively making the world a better place to live in!
My favorite audience is the people who haven’t quite made the leap into homesteading or gardening yet. It’s so rewarding to help them get started and see them flourish - that first homegrown tomato will stay with you for the rest of your life.
You alluded to this a little bit earlier when you talked about your mail-order plant business and the need for people to be able to find creative ways to make a living while living in remote places; but other than that, what was the drive behind starting Outdoor Happens in the first place? While one of the aspects of the site is that it generates revenue for you and your family, it is clear that there is so much more to Outdoor Happens than simply ‘running a website to make some money,’ as there are 101 different website ideas you could have chosen from and thrown together if the only goal was to get a money-making site up on the web.
Yes, Andreas; indeed! Outdoor Happens was born out of passion and out of fear. Ninety-nine percent of the time, passion wins. Passion for a better world, where animals and people thrive together. Where we live according to nature’s principles and our aim is to do GOOD, not harm. It’s about people care and Earth care.
Why the “fear”? It stems from seeing so many people unwell. The quality of our food has gone down the drain with chemicals, GMOs, and every color and additive under the sun. I believe that the quality of our living conditions and food may well be our undoing, and I wish nothing more than to help people live healthier and feel better.
The pandemic is especially relevant here. Many of us have realized how unprepared we really are if the traditional support system fails. Can we genuinely look after ourselves and our families when supermarkets are empty, gas stations are out of gas, and the trucking industry is at a standstill?
Yes, true! I strongly agree on all fronts! Physically speaking, you are only as strong and healthy as the fuel you put into your body. You can’t put garbage into your physical system forever and expect to maintain optimal physical performance. Something eventually has to give.
And yes, I hope the pandemic – if we can search for a silver lining in it all – can act as a wake-up call for some of us and our ways, to be honest.
Ok, well here comes the ‘million dollar question,’ I suppose, ha, ha….drum roll, please…how exactly does Outdoor Happens make money?
Outdoor Happens is what I call “reader-supported.” We provide all our information free-of-charge. In return, we recommend products from our partners, such as Amazon and Tractor Supply. When a reader clicks on one of these links, we earn a small commission from a resulting sale.
It’s a great way of earning a living for those in remote areas. Jobs are hard to come by in lightly-populated areas (and many other areas, these days!) and this job allows me to work from home, tend to the farm, and look after my two girls.
Awesome, Elle; awesome indeed! And other than through affiliate commissions, does Outdoor Happens make money any other ways? What about your homestead set-up? How else do you make money apart from just the Outdoor Happens website?
Nope, it doesn’t; and I don’t. All the things I make or grow go to friends or family. We harvest tons of mangoes every year, which could be sold if we set our minds to it, but instead, I’ve focused on propagating them to re-populate the wild areas of the homestead. They’re amazing trees for wildlife. They also make excellent food for animals, mulch, and alcohol.
Sharing is caring, right?! Making the world a better place one step at a time there, Elle – good going! Now, there are plenty of websites out there about homesteading and ‘living-off-the-land’ – what makes Outdoor Happens so cool? Com’on, don’t be shy – give us the extended sales pitch here and don’t hold back! We want to hear it! Why should we follow your website?
We don’t just want you to follow our website, we want you to be a part of it. That’s why we’ve found writers and contributors from across the world. We have:
We invite everyone to not just read our information (which is pretty awesome, if I may say so!) but to get involved. Share your story!
Our motto: “We may not be able to help everyone, but we can all help someone!”
P.S. We also really focus on practical info - the sorta thing you can take home and apply straight away. There’s too much fluff and empty information on the Internet these days, so you won’t find that on our blog!
Good deal! I love your website, and there is definitely PLENTY to explore on it – and plenty of worldly perspective! Sharing the journey – I really like that, as that is one of the goals of Biz Opp Empire as well! I love the Charles Eastman quote you have up on the Outdoor Happens site about living in harmony with nature. Can you tell us about this?
Amen to that, Elle! Let’s talk a little about networking. As a homesteader and small business owner, what kinds of people are you looking to network with?
Anyone who shares a similar vision, is on a similar journey, or would like to be on a similar journey. I love connecting with anyone who strives to make the world a better place - whether they’re on a homestead already or in an apartment. It doesn’t really matter where you are, you can practice Earth care and people care anywhere.
Well said! Yes, we all live here, on Earth, together – we all have to share this planet!
Thank you very much for your time today, Elle. It’s been great getting to know you better and learning about what you and your family do. Before we sign things off today, do you have any final words of wisdom you’d care to share with people looking to get into homesteading, running a farm, running a website – any of these things; all or some of these things – or just generally living life out loud, being their own person, and running their own enterprise on their own?
Not promoting Nike here, but - JUST DO IT! Yes, it’s ridiculously hard work some days, but believe me, it’s all worth it in the end. Start with something super easy: here are some simple things to get started with. Homesteading is very addictive, so once you start one project, you’ll most likely move onto the next, and the next, and the next. Before you know it, you have 20 cows, 10 chickens, 5 pigs, and 23 gardens.
Don’t get swept up in the fear and chaos out there. Take your shoes off and feel the Earth beneath your feet. Hug a tree if you feel stressed. Breathe!
Wonderful, Elle; wonderful! Thanks again for your time and sharing your story with us.
As we wrap things up here today, how can people interested in learning more about you and your enterprises and endeavors contact you?
We’re super easy to get a hold off - visit our contact page or you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I’ve told y’all a lot about us already, but if you’d like to learn more, visit the about page. You can actually see Dan’s bush mechanic skills in action there, to the benefit of a 1950s Dodge truck!
Owner and Operator of Biz Opp Empire, a website by Andreas Philip Gross Enterprises
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