" I have seen that community and a close relationship with the land can enrich human life beyond all comparison with material wealth or technological sophistication. I have learned that another way is possible."
~ Helena Norberg-Hodge (director of the documentary The Economics of Happiness) - see the events section for information on watching this film here at the farm at a Movie night/Potluck)
Skunk cabbage emerging from its winter slumber
Our relationship with the land here at the farm has been an interesting one this late winter and early spring - each week brings a new weather pattern. We got excited by the early growth of the grass in the pasture, and then the cold weather returned, and the growth slowed. Each day of sunlight and warmth has been a promise of the coming spring, but winter has not been quite ready to give up its grasp.
We have moved into a more active pattern of work here, in spite of the fluctuating weather. New summer shade and rain shelters for the cows, sheep and pigs are being built as they get ready to move out of their winter quarters in and near the barn. Raspberry plants have been divided and replanted, doubling the size of the beds. Orchard beds have been laid out and mulched with wood chips, ready for planting when the trees arrive. Flats of seeds were started indoors, and some are soon ready to move out to their garden beds. Mushroom logs (400!) were inoculated and are stacked in their new resting places down by the creek. As the trees, plants and animals begin to wake up, so do our bodies, as we shed our winter stiffness and begin to adjust to more physical labor - how good that feels!
In the quote above, Helena Norberg-Hodge refers to enriching human life with a close relationship with the land and community. We hope to foster more community by inviting people here more intentionally (we have always been happy to have many visitors). Our upcoming events are listed below and we are glad to hear new ideas of ways to connect to the greater community around us.
Reserve an 1/8 or 1/4 of 100% grass-fed Highland Beef now! Find prices and info on our website below! We still have pork, lamb, and eggs available in bulk or by the cut. Contact us to order on the website!
Sign up for a Pork or Egg Share along with your vegetable share at the Horn Farm Center in York! You can find more info on our website and at the Horn Farm's website. Email or call all pork and egg orders to us. Thanks!
- At the Farm - Any day, just let us know your coming! - Mulberry St in Lancaster (Mondays 5-7pm) Order ahead and we will send you the address for pickup - Etown Church of the Brethren parking lot from 11:45-12:15 on Sundays. Order ahead - Shady Acres Farm Stand in Elizabethtown (Mon-Sat) is stocking our frozen grass-fed lamb and fresh pastured duck eggs - Horn Farm Center in York (Pork and Egg Shares) - These pork and egg shares will be from May-Oct at the same time as the Horn Farm Center's vegetable CSA.Order now!
The Orchard ready to plant!
TREES AND TREES AND TREES
If you haven't noticed by now, we love trees! So far, we have planted over 1200 trees and shrubs on the farm to regenerate our soil, produce food and fodder, sequester carbon, provide habitat, and make our lives that much more beautiful. We can't sing the praises of our woody elders enough! This spring we are planting thousands of trees into two new areas we have not yet cultivated. The first is the 1/2 acre open field next to our house and garden and the the other is the 5 acres across the road we have rented to a neighbor the past few years.
The 1/2 acre plot will be a climate resilient fruit orchard full of apples, persimmons, pawpaw, pears, goji berries, raspberries, asparagus, currants, saskatoon, gooseberries, aronia berries, and seaberries. Beneath all of this diversity will be a wide variety of medicinal herbs, herbs for pollinators, grasses, and clovers. And our resident duck flock will enjoy bounding through the trees, shrubs and herbs eating up orchard pests and slugs while being their whimsical selves. It will be duck heaven!
Across the road will be 5 acres of nut trees, fruit trees, and pasture. In this system, we are planting blocks of chestnuts, hybrid oaks, hazelnuts, mulberries, native persimmons, and summer apples to provide food for us as well as feed for our hogs and chickens. We will pick all of the fruit and nuts we can sell and eat, with plenty left over. When we are done harvesting, we can run the pigs and chickens through to cleanup all of the delicious leftovers! All of these trees will help us replace our purchased grain feed for our hogs and chickens creating healthier livestock which is more economical to produce! We can't wait to be able to share the bounty of all of these trees and plants in the coming years as they produce and grow more and more food!
FOOD AND JUSTICE
There are a number of organizations across the US that are advancing the causes of food justice, ecological restoration, and regenerative agriculture. There are also grass-roots lead movements fighting oppression and seeking to shift power all over the globe. Often these are groups led by people of color that do not receive the news, credit, or funding they deserve. As a community committed to furthering regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and right livelihood for people, we want to highlight and share some of these community-focused food and justice organizations with all of you.
Here locally our beloved Susquehanna river and Appalachian neighbors have been under attack by unconventional gas exploration (aka fracking) for over a decade. The latest form in this harmful boom and bust economy is the construction of large pipelines to move the fracked gas to the coastal market for export overseas. Currently there are two major pipeline projects cutting through the river valley: the Atlantic Sunrise Project and Sunoco's Mariner East II pipeline. Our farm sits within 5 miles of both lines. Seeing the destruction and out of state work trucks is a daily reality for us.
Once these pipelines are built they will allow more drilling to occur within the shale fields furthering ecological and public health degradation. In a recent compendium of studies compiled by Physicians for Social Responsibility, overwhelmingly "more than 80% document risks or actual harms caused by fracking". The negative effects include but are not limited to: increased rates of premature births and infant mortality, cancers, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, road accidents, worker sudden death episodes, and increased crime rates. The corporations leading these projects have clear-cut intact forests, taken private property by eminent domain, contaminated streams and drinking wells, and divided rural communities while bullying small family farmers into submission.
In 2016 the Holleran family lost 90% of their sugar bush, from which they farmed maple syrup in Susquehanna County, to the Constitution Pipeline which was never built. While non-violently defending their home U.S. marshals armed with automatic rifles arrived to assist the workers in felling the sugar maple trees. The Mohn's, organic hay farmers in Conestoga Township in Lancaster County, have filed against Williams Partners for violations against their contract for ignoring safeguards set in place to ensure they maintain their Organic Certification that they've worked many hard years to obtain and keep.
In Columbia County, Hearts and Bones Farm, a young family that operates a vegetable CSA outside of Bloomsburg, had to suspend their farming operation for the 2018 season until pipeline construction is complete. The pipeline will cut straight through their market garden and green house, and trenched across Fishing Creek in their backyard. Once a bucolic setting to raise their children, steward the land, and live the good life, their livelihood has been literally uprooted. All of these farmers had their land seized by eminent domain for corporate profit. Lancaster Farmland Trust, in a statement read at a rally last year, said the pipeline would "impact the county's farm families and diminish the value of preserved farms in its path".
Resistance in the river hills has been empowering, though. An on-going tree-sit in Huntingdon County within the Gerhart family's preserved forest, called Camp White Pine, has been blocking the Mariner East II line for over a year. An order of Catholic Nun's in Columbia, PA, the Adorer's of the Blood of Christ, have been hosting non-denominational vigils at a small hand built chapel where the Atlantic Sunrise crosses their property and have filed for an injunction to the federal court to halt operations in accordance with their faith. Lancaster Against Pipelines have been organizing and leading the county in mass participatory non-violent direct action. They've hosted a myriad of training's, speaking events, sit-in's, blockades, demonstrations, an encampment, and organized with CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) attempting to advance the rights of townships and give the power to the people and the land.
Although there's been a lot going on, it never seems to be enough when facing a seemingly impossible opponent like multi-national corporations who have so much leverage over the government agencies who are supposed to be regulating them. Fossil fuel pipeline infrastructure isn't just a local issue. The majority of exploitative land grabs are happening to Indigenous peoples, as we can recall the Dakota Sioux having their treaty broken and calling for support at Standing Rock. Currently the Ramapough-Lenape have been maintaining the Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp on their ancestral lands in so-called Mahwah, NJ, along the proposed path of the Pilgrim Pipeline. There are many resistance campaigns like these in North America and around the world working hard to put an end to invasive energy consumption.
It is important to act both as hospice for the dying system that's grasping to hold control, and as midwives for the birth of the new dawn. Every one of us has a role to fill right now to defend the land for generations to come. Whether its donating money/supplies, attending a rally, calling Governor Wolf demanding a moratorium, doing door to door canvassing, learning how to monitor workers at job sites, being a legal observer at a direct action protest, or one of the brave folks putting their body on the line, your help is needed. Please take time to check out the links provided, ask yourself what you have to offer, and find out how you can plug in or donate.
Seedlings waiting for spring!
March was busy here, despite the uncooperative weather and unworkable ground. We had two successful workshops two weekends in a row! Both homemade kombucha brewing and shiitake log inoculation brought familiar and new faces together to learn some homestead-y skills. Rising Locust will continue to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and the cultivation of self-sufficiency amongst each other. Stay tuned for upcoming events, including a cob oven build, bread baking with our friend Deb Santiago, and lacto-fermentation skill-shares.
Our monthly Reading Roundtable discussions continue through spring. We begin around 7pm and usually wrap up around 8:30-9pm depending on how deep we get. The following dates and topics have been lined up for the next few months.
Saturday May 5 at 5:30 pm - Movie Night and Potluck The Economics of Happiness
This short film looks at the link between globalization and climate change, and the effects these have on quality of life around the globe. Not only eye opening, but uplifting, this film demonstrates that a shift towards localization is a feasible way to make greater change. Thanks to our friends Sue and Damon Wagner Fields for the suggestion! We'll kickoff at 5:30 with a potluck followed the film and discussion.
"January observation can be almost as simple and peaceful as snow, and almost as continuous as cold. There is time not only to see who has done what, but to speculate why."
~Aldo Leopold, 'A Sand County Almanac'
A warm greetings friends. We hope you all are enjoying the company of family and friends sitting by a fire with hot cocoa (possibly adulterated). Winter is the time for reflecting on the year past and looking to set intentions and goals for the future. It's the season for hibernation, living off the fat reserves and foods that have been cached away. Most importantly, it marks the end of darkness and is the harbinger of new light. Here at the homestead we've been busy welcoming the seasons rotary by hunkering down and collaborating on a permaculture design plan that looks to regenerate our little corner of the world for generations to come.
We'd like to thank everyone who came out and helped us plant over 1,300 trees in our pasture this year. As these trees mature they will provide shade, forage, wind protection for our highland cattle, sheep, hogs, and chickens which will improve their health and well-being. The trees will also benefit the farm by capturing manure and nutrients from the animals, cycling fertility with their deep roots, and soaking up water. All of this will greatly improve the depth and quality of our soil by sequestering boatloads of carbon and will increase the health of the Little Chiques Creek. And down the road, these trees will provide fuel, lumber, fenceposts, and whatever fruit and nuts we can gather before the animals do!
Plans for the coming season include planting even more trees(!), shrubs, herbs, vines and groundcovers to diversify the land and create robust regenerative systems. These plans include a U-pick fruit orchard, a 5 acre hog haven nut pasture, an outdoor kitchen and gathering space, and rehabilitating and rewilding the existing riparian woodlot that hugs the creek. Keep your eyes and ears open for upcoming farm events/skillshares to help make these projects happen and learn a thing or two while doing it!
"Observe and interact" is the first principle in permaculture design. Winter is also the most conducive time for observation. We're forced to slow down our hurried lives, even stop on days that Mother Nature tells us to. In this time of stillness it's easier to observe both what is around us and inside of us. Take it all in with all of your senses. Look at things from different perspectives. Sit with it. Take detailed notes as you recall what you've observed. Ask questions of your perceptions, your interpretations. Then, maybe, it's time to interact instead of reacting.
We have a website now! You can send us orders for pork and lamb as well as see current inventory and prices!
We also now have an order pickup on Mondays 5-7pm at 140 Mulberry St in Lancaster. Send us your order and let us know you will be there! Thanks!
We have an exciting new partner in our work - New Community Project. We are honored that they have asked us to become an affiliate of theirs and welcome us into their organization - here is a brief statement about their work from their homepage:
“NCP is a small organization with a big goal - to change the world by changing the way we relate to the planet and its people. We offer resources that challenge us, experiences that change us and a community that gives us hope. Join us!”
Some of the Work NCP does: - Learning Tours around the globe to work with partner organizations. These organizations focus on women’s and girls issues, climate change and environmental issues, and social justice. - Sustainable Living Centers that “put our principles into practice” in Harrisonburg, Va and Starksboro, VT. - Providing speakers and educational materials for schools, campuses, faith communites regarding all aspects of their work.
We have joined with them as an affiliate - which means we share the basic values and goals of NCP, and we will work together to share knowledge, support and encouragement. So we will help share information about their programs and offerings and they will do the same for us. Expect to see more about this in the future!
Shiitakes in Full Bloom!
LOOKING FOR LOGS
Do you have a small woodlot that needs thinned? A tree that needs to come down this winter? We can provide some tree felling and sustainable forestry services! We are looking to source logs for mushroom inoculation this winter and early spring. We can use oak, maple, beech, some birch, and ironwood. Logs must be between 4-8 inches in diameter and cut this winter or by us! Give us a ring 717-693-3381
FOOD AND JUSTICE
There are a number of organizations across the US that are advancing the causes of food justice, ecological restoration, and regenerative agriculture. Often these are groups led by people of color that do not receive the news, credit, or funding they deserve. As a community committed to furthering regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and right livelihood for people, we want to highlight and share some of these community-focused food and justice organizations with all of you.
The Black Permaculture Network and the National Black Food and Justice Alliance are two such groups. I encourage you to look at some of the work they are doing, support their causes, and offer any resources you can make available. Reading the Black Permaculture Network Solidarity Statement is a great place to start!
Designing where to plant trees and orchards means maps, crayons and creativity!
2/21 - Reading Roundtable (Every 3rd Wednesday) 7pm:
Once every month we come together to discuss a different article as a group. Topics so far have covered social justice, climate change, the importance of language and names, and radical economics. February's article will be The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander discussing racism, mass incarceration, and the war on drugs.
3/3 - Kombucha Brewing Skill Share 2-4 pm:
Our friend Emily Wilcox and community member Donna Volles will be showing the ways of this ancient Chinese fermentation. Kombucha (aka "mushroom tea") is a vinegary sweet health beverage brewed with a mother SCOBY. There will be tastings of different homemade kombuchas and juns, a brewing demonstration, discussion, and the opportunity to take home your own SCOBY! Free by donation ($10 suggested) no one turned away!
TBD (spring) - Mushroom Log Inoculation
Come join us to learn how to inoculate and grow your own shiitake mushrooms outside on logs. Participants will have a log to take home! Details to come!
Have an idea for a skillshare or event? Something you want to learn, something you want to teach, or something you feel like is missing in our corner of Lancaster? Email us your thoughts and ideas!