About

Realeyes Homestead is a family of humans, pigs, chickens, a lot of plants, and fungi all living on a happy patch of earth in Northern Michigan.

The little piggies love the expired organic produce from the local food Co-op!

Even though we met just out of college, we feel like we’ve been lifelong friends. Brenda Baran was born in Honduras but grew up in Dearborn, Michigan and Levi Meeuwenberg grew up in Traverse City, Michigan on the same land we’re now building the homestead. We were always nerds of one kind or another; Brenda being the quintessential ‘A’ student bookworm in Biochem, and Levi being your typical computer nerd with a penchant for Matrix movesBut we weren’t always big sustainability – foodie nerds… 

 

Soon after we met, we decided to chase our “American Dreams” and move to Hollywood to make it big! Through the support of many friends (Team Tempest, The Tribe) and family, I was able to break into the stunt industry and do pretty well with my unique parkour talent. But as I began to reflect more on my life and where it was going, I had to recognize that I probably wouldn’t be making a living doing parkour in my 60s. At the same time, my ecological consciousness was growing and it pained me every time I drove over the mountains on the 405 and saw the brown smog cloud hanging over the city which my dream-chasing was fueling! ~ Levi

 

I initially thought that I wanted to be a pharmacist since my strengths lie in science and helping people. But while working as a pharmacy technician as I was applying to attend pharmacy school, I noticed that drugs didn’t heal people or make them better, they just masked their problems or made them worse! (However, I do acknowledge that conventional medicine is sometimes necessary and can be a lifesaver, especially in emergency situations.) It was at this point in my life that I decided to look into natural, holistic medicine. I discovered the Nutritional Therapy Association and took their course to become a certified Nutritional Therapist. I am so grateful to have found my calling for helping others lead a clean, natural, preventative and healing lifestyle. ~ Brenda

 

Seeing Brenda dive so passionately into Holistic Nutrition inspired me to find my own calling. Parkour will always be a big part of me, but there was always much more. Through books and documentaries I began educating myself on the complex world we live in; ecology, economics, anthopology etc. and my entire world turned upside down (or was it rightside-up?) as I gained clarity on the historical context in which we live, as well as how we got off track. And it was when I discovered Permaculture that I learned how we can find our way again. ~ Levi

 

Through Levi’s sharing on natural building and permaculture I became more and more intrigued in the idea of living as cleanly as possible, not only with diet. This was a little scary at first, I was raised a city girl. I wondered if I would be able to handle “roughing it”. But the more I craved for complete freedom from the everyday demands of society, the more I grew interested. Levi took me to some natural built homes. These homes were beautiful with all the conveniences needed just presented in a different way. This is when I learned that just because something is naturally built doesn’t mean that it has to be ugly or uncomfortable! I kind of had the same doubts with being pig farmers. But after raising our friendly pigs, slaughtering them respectfully, sharing the meat with friends and family and enjoying it ourselves I was also convinced on this! Living off the land makes me feel more alive. ~ Brenda

 

This homestead is growing out of our shared vision and passion for a more fulfilling and harmonious relationship with the natural world around us. This blog will chart our journey in all it’s bumbling, diversion prone, epiphany inspired glory in the hopes that others will follow this path. 

Our mission is to supply our needs (food, fuel, farmaceuticals, fun…) without compromising the ability of future generations (human and otherwise) to supply theirs. Looking inward, we seek to heal our relationship to our own bodies (a whole biome themselves) through Holistic Nutrition. And looking outwards, we seek to heal the damaged landscapes around us by building soil and restoring ecosystems, through Permaculture. As we grow in knowledge and experience, we will pass this knowledge on through re-skill workshops, nutrition courses, farm tours and articles. 

loess-plateau-before-after

Loess Plateau: China spent the last 10 years reforesting a desert the size of Belgium

Somewhere on the predictable path upward from foolish youth into pragmatic adulthood, we stumbled over our ideals. With hardly a moment given as they disappear over the horizon, the rising tide of our daily responsibilities and obligations conditioned us into little more than automatons living in loops. The script of our role is handed down to us from the high priests of social convention, and subtle media persuasion; nudging us this way and that to fall in line, do our part on this great vessel of humanity, destined for the stars!

But somewhere along the mythical road of progress, the ship hit a ice sheet that had fractured off the arctic. And as water flooded into the coastal cities, the rats began deserting the ship. They learned to work together, to construct a life-boat by salvaging the wreckage. One by one, millions of these little life boats popped up and sailed the sea seeking new shores upon which to rebuild civilization. This space follows the tale of one of those life-boats. We know not yet where we’ll land, but we’ve got some sense of direction figured out.

Whole Food, Nutrient Dense Diet

While most websites subversively try to suck you in and keep you clicking, our intention with every post is that you will learn something then be inspired to get up off the computer, go outside and try it! Even if you fail, you’ll learn something about how the world works. Failure is a major part of our design process. 🙂 We find we learn the most when we take a playful attitude towards experimenting with nature. 

The information revolution has blessed us with almost omniscient capabilities, yet even with tabbed browsing we can hardly keep up with the onslaught of information. It’s a skill to learn to use this tool so that you don’t get overwhelmed into paralysis, or bogged down in distraction, but filter out pertinent information and apply it in your life; to unplug from the computer and plug in to reality and DO, BE, ACT and CREATE. 

As students of life, our map of reality is ever evolving and we’re way open to feedback, so let us know what you’d like to see on this site, or if there are any mistakes or alternative info to explore. Thanks for visiting! Come back anytime!

We’d just like to share a special thank you to our many teachers and mentors, as well as all those friends who’ve helped out along the way!

Image sources: 
Loess Plateau
Vegetables

19 Comments

  1. Jon Lawrence

    Well done Levi… While we miss you on ANW I strongly prefer the life and lifestyle you are pursuing. Bravo Young Man!

    Reply
  2. Catherine Valovick

    Hello Levi and Brenda,
    I have just read about your farm homestead on the Ticker. You are both amazing in that you have come to your awareness of the importance of nurturing the land and living your beliefs. I am sure it is not always easy and you work very hard caring for your animals. Farming depends on the weather too and we have had some extreme cycles lately. It is young people such as yourselves who give me hope in the future of the earth. This may sound banal but you both make me happy in my heart.
    Levi, do you still have your trumpet?
    Warmly,
    Catherine Valovick

    Reply
    • Levi Meeuwenberg

      Thank you so much for the kind words! I do still have my trumpet, but it’s a bit rusty, although I do practice the piano on occasion. Hope you’re well. 🙂

      Reply
  3. kshitij raj

    Hi Levi,i am a random fan of your.

    Reply
    • Levi Meeuwenberg

      That looks great Eva! Best of luck to you and your family. The underground greenhouse sounds like a good idea. It would be nice to hear more about what you’re already doing, like a tour of your farm!

      Reply
  4. Kdubrepublic

    Thank you:
    I appreciate being accepted to receive your e-mail updates, and am looking
    forward to learning more in days ahead. I think that in days ahead, being able to work in concert with the gracious gifts of Gods Earth could be the determining factor of making it or not. I am anxious to work with our ten acres here to live a more healthy and happy life. The best to you both. Kw

    Reply
  5. Malou Nocedo

    Levi, no wonder you’re no longer active in ANW. After reading your blog, I thought to myself you made a very good choice. Live healthy, live long, love more and be happy. More blessings to the both of you.

    Reply
  6. Rebecca Waters

    Wow. After meeting Brenda over 10 years ago in Australia, I took the chance to have a read; and I’m excited to delve in further.

    Reply
  7. Donna Allgaier-Lamberti

    Greeting from the lower SW Michigan! I found your blog through Peter Banes/Utube blog post. I am so glad to see young people adopting this lifestyle. We are “senior” homesteaders on 5-acres in Allegan County, SW MI.
    I just attended a Peter Bane workshop with the Van/Kal Permies. A very knowledgeable guy!
    Good luck along your journey!!
    Donna at The Small House Homestead

    Reply
  8. Carolyn Rames

    Hello Levi and Brenda,
    I am originally from Michigan and have deep loving connections with M22 friends, Neahatawanta, CACC, Orianna Food Coop, and Telford Farm in Cedar. Now living in Ohio, I hope to attend Akron’s Advanced Permaculture class. I look forward to meeting you and hearing more about your project.
    Carolyn

    Reply
  9. Brent Yalkut

    Levi,
    From the moment my son and I saw your performance on Ninja Warrior, we were fans. We miss seeing that talent you brought. You are very brave to put the notoriety aside and live clean and free.
    Congrats on being happy.

    Reply
  10. Mike Ligouri

    Hey Levi,

    Just wanted to say that you’re a huge inspiration for me, both in parkour and life in general. You were my original inspiration to start doing parkour back in 2011 when I first saw you on Sasuke and Jump City Seattle. I think it’s awesome that you’re focusing on making the earth a better place, but there’s always going to be that nostalgic part of my memory when I first started doing parkour. Keep up the awesome work.

    Reply
    • Levi Meeuwenberg

      Hi Mike!
      Thank you for your kind words. We do what we can, you know?
      Parkour will always be a part of me too, and in subtle ways it has helped my work on the farm as well.
      Peace.

      Reply
  11. Jason

    Hi Levi, any plans of trying the course again? (ANW). Was a fan from the Philippines. Regards to Brenda

    Reply
    • Levi Meeuwenberg

      Hi Jason. Thanks for the support. I don’t have any plans to try ANW again. I’m very happy with my life currently. 🙂 Thanks for checking in!

      Reply
      • Jason

        Yeah, I guess was just quite nostalgic since when I first watched ANW during the first couple of seasons that you we’re the one lording it out there with Brian then that injury u had and the early elimination on the 4th season if I’m not mistaken learning that I we’re here in the Philippines for the Bourne movie, well I must say that I admire the maturity and responsibility turning ur back to parkour and facing the reality of life and the future, read ur article there that u can only those stuffs for a number of years and better start early to think ahead. Sorry for this long read hehe. Good luck to u and Brenda, I already subscribed btw. Let me know if you guys visit the Philippines again.

        Reply
  12. Hanna Sampoli

    Hi Levi.

    I’m one of those who wondered what happened to one of the best ninjas? Glad to know that you are doing great and living a sustainable lifestyle. Wish I could do the same, being a self-professed treehugger.

    I will always be a fan.

    All the best to you and Brenda. 🙂

    Reply
    • Levi Meeuwenberg

      Hello Hanna. Thanks for checking in! Glad you’re happy with the transition. We sure are!

      Reply

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