Hello everyone! We’re starting a brand new adventure… we’re going from Heart to Home at Maker Farm! We’ve just become the new owners of nearly 100 acres here in Michigan, beautiful rolling land that has only ever been used for farming. And we want to turn this dirt into our dreams, pour our hearts into making a home here.
It’s a really big project that will likely take us many years, but we wanted to document our story for our family and friends, that’s YOU!, and invite you along on this crazy, wild adventure of ours. We’re tentatively calling this JenniferMaker Farm, or just Maker Farm for short, because we’re Makers and we want to grow, nurture, and make ALL the things here and share them with you! We want to show you how it’s possible to go from nothing to something with hard work and heart!
We’ve always wanted to own land and build our own home. And now, just to have this land, is such a dream come true. Seven years ago, we were struggling to even pay our mortgage. We thought we’d have to sell our house and move to an apartment to make ends meet. But we couldn’t do that to my daughter, Alexa, so we worked hard – SO hard – harder than we’ve ever worked – and we started a little project called Jennifer Maker, where we teach people how to make things using technology like cutting machines, printers, laser cutters, power tools, and so on. We’ve been able to earn enough to support our family and then save enough to buy this land. We feel so fortunate for this opportunity – we started from almost nothing and got to this. And it’s all possible through the support of JenniferMaker viewers, readers, and students, and we are ever grateful to you for your love and kindness.
We searched for land for our home for over two and a half years. It was quite the job. The place where we live, Ann Arbor, Michigan, doesn’t have big tracts of land for sale. It’s a college town, some might even consider it a suburb of Detroit. But if you head west, you’ll find farms. Sadly, very few are for sale – and when we did find them, they were either promised to someone else or they were so remote we wouldn’t be able to get any Internet. And you all know we need Internet so we can reach and teach people. So it took a long time to find what we needed. We’re thankful for our agents, Laurie Buys and Patti Eddy from Reinhart Realtors, who worked tirelessly with us to find this property. We highly recommend them if you live in the area!
The other big thing we were looking for, besides space and Internet, was quiet. We wanted a place where you couldn’t hear a freeway nearby. Our house in Ann Arbor is sturdy and comfortable, but we’re so close to the freeway – it’s a constant roar of sound. But remember, we in Michigan, home of the automobile – and there are SO many highways and freeways – in fact, this part of the world is home to the very first freeway. So this was a tall order.
Eventually we found 91 acres for sale in Dexter, Michigan, which is the town immediately west of Ann Arbor. It’s only 20 minutes from our house! This bit of land is nestled nearly four miles from the closest freeway, right in between Dexter and Chelsea, so it’s very quiet. But there were issues – it was vacant, so we had to survey the land, make sure it perked, drill new wells, and get permission from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (nickname EGLE) to put a short road over the wetlands in the center. We’re still working on that one.
So our dream is to build a big red barn right over here where we can make all the things we can imagine, inside and out. This barn will be our new studio and we’ll have lots of room to play with tools and materials for making lots of things. We’ve come up with a preliminary plan and we hope to get started on that next year.
Then when the studio is done, we want to build our dream home in the back 40 acres, tucked away and surrounded by the woods. We don’t know exactly what that will look like yet, but we’re also hoping to dredge a large pond or even small lake, if we can. Our goal is not to live off the grid – we need and want the grid to power all our tools and toys – nor is our goal to be self-sufficient or anything like that. Instead, we just want the space to show you how to make all the things, big and small. We know a lot, and what we don’t know, we will learn. If there was a zombie apocalypse, we’re the friends you want to have, because we know how to make all the things you need.
And, amongst all of this, we wish to be good caretakers of this land. We want the land to continue to be farmed and provide for the community, we want the wetlands to be protected and continue to be a safe haven for all of the wildlife that lives here, and we want to build a special, and magical place where our imaginations can take shape and become reality. A place where we can experiment with new and different ways to make things, large and small, whether with new technology or through old ways that have been forgotten over time. We plan to continue to teach you how to make crafts and DIY projects from the Maker Farm once the studio is built and up-to-speed, as well as bigger projects like, say, how to build a greenhouse, how to plant sunflower gardens, and how to decorate a porch.
But first, we start small. We were already able to get electricity out here, so that’s a huge step. And now we’re clearing out brush from beside the steel storehouse that is on the farm to serve as our basecamp. We found a used RV that we’ll put here so we have a dry place to plan, work, and rest. We’re not moving into the RV or anything like that – we’ll continue living and working in Ann Arbor until we build our home – but the RV will let us be here when we need to be and help us get better acquainted with the land.
One of the big challenges we have right now is WATER. We cleared this land here by the storehouse, but if we don’t replant it with something else, the weeds will just grow right back. We did a little research and we think planting this area with clover would be a good idea – white clover is a great lawn alternative that loves sun – and this area gets a LOT of sun – needs very little maintenance, and is great for attracting pollinators, like bees and butterflies. We can even get some white miniclover seeds on Amazon for a great price!
The only problem is we have no water source yet to water the new clover seeds, which you need to do before they begin to germinate. We COULD attempt to bring in water ourselves, but that would take SO much water that I don’t think it would be practical. So we have to figure out how to get water here, and it may require drilling a new well near the storehouse. If anyone has ideas other than a new well, or something we can do while we’re waiting for a new well, let us know!
It’s such a beautiful place, and we feel so very lucky to have found it. We can’t wait to share this with you, and hope you’ll follow along. We’re learning LOTS and we’ll share everything we discover with you, all the good and bad and the what-were-we-thinking moments, too!
So let us know what you’d like to know more about … we’re happy to share anything we’ve learned so far, and everything we do from here on out. Even if you’re not thinking of moving out to the country yourselves, we want to share and teach so many things both here and on the main JenniferMaker channel and blog.
We’re going to try to keep the main story of Maker Farm on its own page and channels, though, so anyone can follow the thread of our adventures … and also so we can make simpler videos that are less of a production, and more just us sharing our lives and loves with you!
Jennifer & Greg