Our farm runs on the power of cooperation with human and more-than-human partners, and involve practices that seek to continually nourish the land and relations that nourish us.
Subsistence gardens are woven throughout the land between our core buildings, combining annual self-seeding “wilded” plants (like kale, amaranth, calendula, tomatoes, bee balm, sunflowers, husk cherries) with annual deliberate inter-plantings. Some beds are a deliciously vibrant and wild mix of volunteers and planted crops, while other beds are more thoroughly cultivated each year for staple crops such as beets, carrots, onions, leeks, and cabbages. We practice no-till gardening in these areas and have experimented successfully with multiple styles of continuous mulching (including seeding directly into sandwiched layers of mulch). Much of what we grow is eaten by residents of the land, and surplus is shared in various ways with our wider community.
Like our gardens, “the orchard” can’t be found in just one place, laid out in a big straight-line grid. It is more like a series of groves, often blurring at the edges into each other and into other plantings. We’re slowly, over time, building what some have called “food forests”–where tall fruit trees (the overstory) are accompanied by smaller shade-tolerant food, medicine, and forage shrubs, and a diverse understory of beneficial ground plants.
We care for 125+ fruit trees, including apples (around 40 varieties), peaches, European pears, Asian pears, sweet cherries, sour cherries, mulberries, and plums. Mid-size tree/bushes include grapes, Cornelian cherries (dogwood), aronia berries, seaberries, elderberries, bush plums, serviceberries, and Nanking cherries.
Some of this fruit (especially the large tree fruit) is just starting to come into bearing after ten years of growth, and other fruit already blesses us annually with abundance. We love to preserve it, and especially enjoy turning it into delicious fermented beverages to share with our communities.