About Justin and Barefoot Mountain

About Justin and Barefoot Mountain

kidjustinMy story started with my parent's moving to the suburbs of North Carolina at the age of three. Soon after my parents divorced I spent most of the weekends next door with my best friends who were a bit older.  

The time was the mid 80's. Our parents were no helicopter parents. We spent our days in the woods with a lot of autonomy.  I THRIVED in my environment! 

At my mother's it was a different story. I moved around a lot and it was hard for I to maintain friendships. So at thirteen, I moved in with my father. There I went to work. I walked the streets pushing a mower earning and investing money. Since my father was gone during the week as a truck driver, I got himself up and to school on my own, further building more autonomy and mastery.

kinAt the age of fifteen, my father was in a sudden and tragic work accident. I had grown estranged from my mother so I worked to live with my brother. This is known as kinship care in the foster care. I went to a group home for a short while and after a few weeks, I went to live with my brother. My brother and wife had a new newborn child and I instantly attached. I also cared for my niece; I found a natural love for babies.  

 At age sixteen I felt it was time to tackle life on my own. Drawing from my mastery and autonomy living with my father, I found belonging as men and their families in the small town community helped guide me into adulthood. young

 As a young adult, I decided to go to college and it was there where I volunteered for the Army right after 9/11. I was soon deployed overseas. 

In the Army, I found community and purpose. I started offering fitness advice to my fellow soldiers. It was my first coaching experience and I loved the feeling of helping others. Seeing Iraq also really opened my mind to another world.  army

Upon my return to the states, I bought two houses as a package deal. I lived in one and rented the other one out. I started renovating and maintaining the houses that this was the beginning of my handyman skills. I was still eager to help others and continue with self-improvement.​

clippingsI became aware of what was threatening our food and environment. I learned how important soil was and bought my first indoor composting worm bin and started to garden at a community garden plot. I had tremendous luck by only adding compost from my worm bin to the native soil; A handful with every planting and then topdressing as I harvested more castings.  

I later donated that garden to someone who was in need. I reported, "This provided me with an example of how to make a sustainable change; teach someone in need, the skill of gardening."

dogI then focused on animal rescue. I started by rescuing on my own from the local stray animals , I later became the president of the local humane society. I fostered, helped with grants, adoption events, and even helped reform animal abuse laws. 

While doing dog rescue I chose to mentor a young boy through a local school program. That really encouraged me to become a foster parent. "I was amazed at the change I saw not only in the boys in my care, but also within myself. I found the more I was able to heal, find purpose, and find a group of people that wanted to help, the more healing could take place for all of us." 

fosterLater I began urban homesteading and fostering at-risk youth. I and my kids loved raising fish and plants in the aquaponics system, and tending to the chickens, beehive, worms, and even dubia roaches. I loved learning new things. I felt what is called flow as I was doing this work. During flow, you are productive but it did not feel like I was working, it felt natural. I said, "I felt I was paying forward what I had received as a youth and being more responsible for the footprint." I went on a seven-day solo backpacking trip when I had a vision of an ecovillage for children. "Why keep them in four walls when nature is so healing. “ I thought. As I build toward that goal, I will share what I have learned so that we can all THRIVE!"