David and Lise Abazs began their journey together in 1986, when they were married in a Buddhist service in Sri Lanka, a Hindu ceremony at Gandhi's ashram in Wardha, India, and finally a Christian wedding service in North Carolina.
After that, they decided to spend their honeymoon on a research farm in New Mexico to learn about farming.
The couple planned to "farm-sit" in Maine but Lise wanted to move back to Minnesota. She's from the southern part of the state. After some research, David said the only place he would live in Minnesota -- he's from New York -- was Finland.
More than 20 years later, the couple still lives on 40 acres they call the Round River Farm, producing garden foods for 45 families in the area. Melinda Suelflow, the farm manager and a resident on the property, said they grow mixed greens, tomatoes, rutabaga and cauliflower. They are working on growing every type of rhubarb known to exist. Chickens and sheep can also be spotted on the farm.
They're hosting an open house and work party Oct. 10 for "10/10/10," an international event described as the world's largest day of practical action to address climate change.
The farm serves as a model for how to conserve energy and live off the land with solar panels and other devices required to go "off the grid."
"It really belongs to the future," Lise said.
The Abazses' home is fossil-fuel-free. Electrical power comes from the sun and is stored in batteries inside the house. They have a solar oven, a wood stove and a food dryer. It's not all Spartan: There is a computer, TV, refrigerator, washing machine and deep freezer. Their electrical system doesn't support a clothes dryer.
"We don't want to be complete hobbits," Lise said.
Their well is pumped from a windmill. They also collect rain water. They have a "grey water" treatment system, using household waste water -- from sinks and showers -- to irrigate orchards and a greenhouse.
They heat with wood. There's a sauna out back.
David said the farm provides education on sustainable farming and they have taught about it in local classrooms. They also install solar and wind energy systems and provide energy audits.
"In our region, a lot of people live outside of the power grid," David said. He said many of those who rely on alternative energy live in the Finland region.
"Live within the limits of where you live," Lise said.
They do drive cars and use gas for a garden tiller.
The couple had their home serve as a school as well. Both of their children were taught there until the ninth grade. Lise said they raised their kids to realize that energy is not limitless.
Lise works part time at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center while David is a part-time lighthouse keeper at Split Rock State Park.
David has also been named a senior fellow at the University of Minnesota. "I'm basically at the disposal of the College of Agriculture," he said. He is working on creating a greater connection between food and farmers.
He is also working with the city of Silver Bay and its eco-park project.