YTP #22 Dacha Project: From Communism to Suburbia to Permaculture Homesteading

By in Podcast

“Your life will be no better than the plans you make and the action you take.
You are the architect and builder of your own life, fortune, destiny.”
-Alfred A. Montapert
Author of The Supreme Philosophy of Man: The Laws of Life

Fleeing the Soviet Union in search of a better life, Lily and her family arrived in the United States in 1989. Introduced to sugar and malls and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, her parents moved them into an American dream-like home in suburban New Jersey. Finding employment, capitalism and freedom of choice, the family set down roots with no plans to ever return to their communist home country. They were free until the day when Lily announced to her parents that she and five other friends were creating a communal homestead in upstate New York. Haunted by memories of being forced to live under communist rule, her parents were horrified that their daughter would be choosing such a life. They had sacrificed everything to make their dream a reality and do right by their children, the only problem was, it wasn’t Lily’s dream.

Upon returning from a post-graduate summer in Yosemite, a trip that informed the future architecture of her life, Lily remembers crying day after day as she bear witness to the consumerism and nine-to-five grind of her community in New Jersey. At the time, Lily was preparing to begin her first real job as a full-time teacher.  Although dreading the repetitive nature of the typical American profession she kept afloat by a deep knowing that it wouldn’t last long. Day in and day out, she begrudgingly got up at 6am and joined the grind. After one-year she was done.

Lily found herself with a college degree, no income and no job but a full heart and a future of endless possibilities. This was the beginning of the Dacha Project story, the collective vision of six friends committed to not living a life of debt but a life that would allow them to feed their passions and live their full expressions. This is story of becoming the architect of life and creating the vision that speaks clearly to your senses and fills you up everyday. It’s a story of minimizing the material to experience the priceless value of freedom.

BJ and I were divinely navigated to the Dacha Project in August where we stayed a few nights in their on-property straw bale cottage. After talking with the residents, sharing common space in their sustainably designed, earth-bermed home and touring the permaculture layout of the land we knew that we had to bring Dacha to the YT audience. Lily shares her wisdom on how she lives on $6,000 a year, her belief in social capital even if the banks disagree and the art of finding currency in areas other than monetary exchange. For this type of living, the Ithaca area is perfect. Home to the Ithaca Eco-Village, the Tompkins Time Bank and FreeSkool, the Dacha Project way of life is more than accepted, it is supported.

We hope you enjoy our interview with Lily as much as we enjoyed sitting in the sun of their passive solar self-built homestead to record this episode (available on Air BnB). It will be an experience that goes down as a top 10 on the Ride the High Vibe Tour! Travel does the body, mind and soul good. Literally, check out 8 reasons why from Positive Health Wellness  – click here.


Episode #22 Show Notes:

Dacha Project

Air Bnb Straw Bale Cottage – Stay at the Dacha Project


Couch Surfing


WWOOF International


YTP #14 & #15 Alex Buell

Ithaca Eco-Village

High Peak Cyclery

YTP #11 Philip Urso

Ithaca, NY 

Ithaca Freeskool 

Tompkins Timetraders 

Share Tompkins 

Loaves and Fishes 


Don’t miss your chance to win something special this month from LifeStraw. Details here.


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