Welcome to Sustainability on the Side with Marc and Jessa – here’s a little about us!
We live on a 5.7 acre homestead in Central Florida with horses, goats, dogs, cats, and chickens. When we started the land was producing no food – but now we have milk, eggs, veggies, herbs, and fruit! We also have solar power and rainwater collection. All of this – and we both work full time! It’s a lot of work sometimes, but also SO rewarding! We wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
We’ve now done some sort of “homesteading” in 4 different states and 4 different climates. We’ve done very urban food production in a tiny backyard in the city. We had a small 1-acre homestead on the side of a mountain close to town. Now we started from scratch on around 5 acres about an hour from the city. And along the way we have made tons of changes in our life – both big and small – to be more sustainable while still having jobs.
Whether you are in an apartment with no land or on 100 acres we hope to give you some tools to become more sustainable too – and we’d love to hear your ideas as well!
My family is very outdoorsy so I grew up hiking and camping. My parents instilled in me a deep respect for nature that has only strengthened. In fact, I’ve turned my passion into a career. I have a PhD in conservation biology and my job as a university professor is to teach Environmental Science . My professional background includes research in animal behavior and conservation. I’ve always loved animals and been concerned about our impact on the planet.
I bring a lot of animal experience to our homestead. I’ve worked as a vet tech and in horse stables, did AmeriCorps at a Heifer International farm, and do professional research on animal behavior. I have experience with everything from the normal livestock (chickens, goats, cows, bees, horses, ducks etc.) to the more exotic (water buffalo, yak, even a dzo). I also have taught workshops on chicken keeping, homestead ecology, and food production.
I’ve also done a bunch of growing. I learned gardening at the feet of my mom from a very young age (she’s an amazing gardener!). Since then I’ve worked at a farm and at a local farmer’s market. I’ve been lucky to learn from some of the most experienced farmers out there! I’ve led us in growing many of our own fruits and veggies in 4 very different climates. Lately I’ve been exploring permaculture in more depth – my training is in ecology so this is a perfect fit for us!
My Personal Profile has more on my education and credentials (click here). I grew up as a first-generation American son of Portuguese immigrants in the suburbs of New Jersey and take a jack-of-all-trades approach to homesteading. I picked up many of my skills by working for my father, watching my aunts and uncles back in the Old-World, and via trial-and-error over the past several years.
My early college education included a few engineering and product design courses, but ultimately my passions have veered me towards the use of traditional materials and historic off-grid techniques whenever I can. As a jack-of-all-trades, I have experience with home renovations as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in New Orleans, vehicle mechanics at my father’s auto body repair business, animal husbandry at my grandparents’ homesteads back in Portugal, and with agricultural research at the University of Florida’s IFAS program.