Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tiny Home Tuesday ~ The Forestiere Underground Gardens

First of all, a disclaimer - this is not a tiny home, as it stretches over 10 acres, though not all actual 'house' acres. On my way to checking up on some tiny home subjects, I came across this place, first on Root Simple and then on a variety of sites, including the Forestiere site itself.

The more I learned, the more I wanted to find out and was drawn down enough cyber paths to decide this home, this life has something applicable to a movement that embraces minimalism and I wanted to share it.

One day I'll go see this place and take my own photos; in the meantime, I used photos that were available as long as they were not used for commercial or personal profit.

Baldassare Forestiere came to the US from Sicily, landing in Fresno, California, having saved enough to buy some land, hoping to farm it as he had done in his native home. Instead, he realized he'd bought land that was basically hardpan, totally unsuitable for growing much of anything and in a blisteringly hot climate as well. So, in 1906 he started to dig. He dug and built, by hand, for the next 40 years until his death, creating over 100 carved out rooms and courtyards and gardens, kumquats, quinces, dates and grapes among other fruits, with some plantings as unusual as his home, such as multi-grafted citrus trees, bearing oranges, grapefruits and lemons on the same tree. Gardens? Under the ground? Well, in a sense.

He had summer and winter bedrooms, a kitchen area, and a bathing area. He built, with no more formal training than his visual knowledge of the Roman architecture of the Mediterranean, stone arches that have held up for over 100 years now.

There was an overhead aquarium, and peep holes scattered around that let him look out onto ground level without being seen. Oh, I would have loved to have met this man!

Using native stone and hand tools (no explosives), by the time he died in 1946 he estimated he'd spent about $300.00 on materials. Since his death, his family, now the third generation, have maintained and kept the gardens open to the public for tours.

Why did I choose this over a tiny home? Because here was a man in a country not his own, who'd saved enough money to buy land that he was ready to work hard to farm and it had to have been a huge disappointment to discover that original plan was not going to happen. But he turned his back on his disappointment and went, literally, in a direction most likely unimaginable to those who watched what must have seemed a laughable folly. Instead, he created something of rare and unique beauty, raised a family along with his grapes and oranges, pomegranates and other crops and gave a family, a town and a country someone and something to be proud of and preserve.

I don't think many people who live in places different from a suburban or urban norm haven't been asked the how's and why's of making a choice to live off the more well worn paths, and I think most of the time the answer is something Joseph Campbell expressed well when he said "Follow your bliss." He also said, as a friend reminded me yesterday, "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are."

So if you want a tiny home, or to dig an underground wonderland, or to live on an island or to live on a boat or a mountain or someplace you have never been, think about Baldassare Forestiere, who turned what he didn't have into what he really wanted. Baldassare said, "To make something with lots of money, that is easy. To make something out of nothing, now that is something." That's not a bad way to spend a lifetime.
"To make something with lots of money that is easy— But to make something out of nothing... now that is something." - See more at: http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/forest.htm#sthash.ohJTNr41.dpuf
"To make something with lots of money that is easy— But to make something out of nothing... now that is something." - See more at: http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/forest.htm#sthash.ohJTNr41.dpufThat's not a bad way to spend a lifetime.

Have a toil to tangible triumph Tuesday. Do something tenaciously.

p.s. To get driving directions to the Forestiere Underground Gardens, go here



  1. this is extremely cool!

    2574 etypyo

  2. This begs the question: What have I done with my first 60 or so years?


  3. Unfortunately this kind of thing is no longer allowed in America.

    1. I can't say I agree with complete authority, because I don't know for sure, but I do know walking to one's own beat is still very possible, so dream and do anyway!