The Dacha Project, founded in 2008, is a do-it-yourself, egalitarian and educational homestead. We are comprised of six friends and an extensive circle of supporters and community members. Here are our bios!
I’m a traveler, or rather I used to be one before I moved here to the Ithaca area to build the Dacha. I’ve been around the wonderful countries of Germany, Spain, Guatemala, Costa Rica and France, farmed (thank you, WWOOF) in the beauty of Hawai’i, climbed rocks with the bears of Yosemite National Park in California, and driven across the U.S. many times. Although I’m a woods and mountains girl at heart, I’ve been lured by the likes of Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Chicago and Portland.
I’m an immigrant. I moved from Kiev, Ukraine to Brooklyn sidewalks at age 7 in 1989. Yes, I do eat borscht, but only if a babushka made it. I’m in love with languages and so far my collection includes English, Russian, un poco Español, ein bissen Deutsch, and a tiny bit of French.
I’m currently trying out myself as a puppeteer – www.lilysilly.com. I also sing in a jazz duo which we call Lily and Matt. And then there is always writing – I’m a fan of NaNoWriMo and write whenever I get a chance.
I’m a teacher, a nerd. After getting my Masters in Education from Rutgers University, I taught high school Language Arts in Mahwah, NJ. It was an amazing time, and of course, as any teacher will tell you, a learning experience. We put on plays, read Salinger and Angelou, wrote poems, tried to survive high school. I’ve worked a lot with tutoring and child care and it’s a profession I hope to continue in one shape or another.
And here I am – part of this experimental homestead project. I live with people who are my friends and family. I’ve been on a crash course in sustainable living and building. There is still a lot to learn, but I like this lifestyle. I’m pretty hooked. The waterfalls around here are kinda helpful, too.
I will tell you the most important thing there is know about me….if you ask.
Since I was born in Kiev and moved to Brooklyn at the age of five, I call myself an immigrant. I began learning English (with a Brooklyn accent) by watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while my family assimilated and worked toward the American dream.
As my parents moved my sister and me to New Jersey, they got comfortable in the suburban lifestyle. Even though I was grateful for the security of the burbs, I always had an itch to see the world. So immediately after graduating Rutgers Business School, where I tried to lose the Brooklyn accent, I packed a bag and have been vagabonding and couchsurfing ever since.
In the last four years, I have traveled to Germany, Italy, Mexico, Hawaii and across the US mainland twelve times. I like to taste the extremes of various lifestyles and find a balance that keeps me honest. I try these lifestyles on for size and seesaw between being a radical homesteader, a worker and a cultural explorer. However, I realize that I must try the jobs and the ways of life that are not so easy and go against the grain of what I believe in order to remain open minded and have first hand experience.
So before I found a home at the Dacha, I did experiment with a formal job title, the “security” of a regular paycheck, health insurance and being a consumer in a fast paced world. However, I felt like I was diagonally parked in a parallel universe. In my current and more sustainable Dacha life, I feel inspired, grounded and proud of my frugal, unconventional wisdom. I find security in the garden, insurance through the community and I give myself an informal job title when it is due.
Now, I like to enjoy a crafter-noon making a puppet with old fabrics, beading with stones, sewing a costume for a Lady Gaga Party or playing with wire gadgets and old bike tires. Sometimes, I name our bull frogs “Freddy” and follow butterfly highways around the ponds till Bill Murray, our Dacha ground hog, nods a good morning in my direction.
I joined the Dacha in 2015. I’m obsessed with growing plants of all kinds. I’ve planted every fruit that you’ve ever heard of and some you haven’t. When I’m not farming I earn my living as a classical guitar player, and music teacher. My final great love is hippos – I know a lot about them, and have a small collection of hippo art.
I am a refugee from the Mid-West. I love cast iron and puppies. People have described me as a classic American backyard tinkerer. I will take your diesel engine apart and put it back together all weird and good, running on vegetable oil like it was designed to. I spend all my time on earth scheming and starting projects. I love coffee and cannot be found in anything but grubby clothes.
Lea and Danila and Little Z:
Although we no longer live at the Dacha, we live nearby and continue to co-own the land and be stewards of it. From time to time, one might see us around walking in the woods, pruning trees or swimming in the pond.