"We are not separate from each other, from the broader world around us; we are one with the Goddess, with the God... as the season changes, we arouse the power from within, the power to heal, the power to change our society, the power to renew the earth."
~Starhawk, "The Spiral Dance"
Ah, what a year 2018 has been. Trials and tribulations aside, as I sit here sipping on my hot cocoa I can't help but reflect on all of the gifts this year has brought to me and my community as well as the goals we've accomplished. For starters our farm has grown in a couple ways. Our newest community member, Laila Davis, has joined us in our quest bringing along with her thoughtful insights, fresh energy, and many new skills added to our collective tool box. We've also expanded the property by acquiring the blue house next door which now serves as housing for our growing community, lengthens our stewardship of the Little Chiques creek, and provides more opportunities for the foreseen (and unforeseen) future!
This fall also added more diversity and abundance to the Rising Locust landscape with the addition of a willow thicket across the way in an otherwise very wet area once planted with corn, soy, and alfalfa. This thicket will act as a coppice, or in other words, trees that can be cut over and over again to provide us with renewable fuel, basket making rods, and wood chips for the orchard all while preventing erosion and pesticides from entering our little piece of the Little Chiques watershed. Thank you everyone who came out to the work party and helped! Because of you we planted 500 trees in just one day!
We've had our first successful meat CSA this fall and plan to continue to offer shares! Thank you every one of the community members who've now joined us in our vision. We hope you enjoyed what our CSA shares have to offer and look forward to continue working with you. If anyone is interested in joining the winter meat CSA please see details below.
I would also like to take this time to express thanks and gratitude to everyone from Philhaven health center who have come to visit us this year, with an extra special thanks to Sue Wagner-Fields for organizing the field-trips. We love sharing what this land has to offer and very much appreciate the extra hands in the garden. Eli the dog loves the visits too and can barely wait for the next one!
Now the darkest time of year has passed. Light has been reborn with the returning of the Sun. May he grow strong to provide all of us with the fire and energy for making lasting positive changes.
2019 Internship Application Now Open - We are interested in partnering with self-motivated individuals to share in the work that we do while providing foundational knowledge and hands-on experience in regenerative agriculture, permaculture design, homesteading and community living.Please click here for more information and access to the application form. Share widely!
Winter Meat CSA Shares Available - What's a CSA? Community Supported Agriculture! When you become a member you are buying directly from your local farmer with no middle man. You will be supporting a local farm, one dedicated to regenerating the soil, the environment, and the ecological balance and diversity of your region. In return you get the convenience of a months worth of pastured meat in one day, receiving a sample of diverse cuts. We have full and half shares of beef and pork available. More info here on our website. Email us to reserve a share.
From Bones to Bloom: Ecological Design Course & PDC March 3- May 26
Friends and colleagues of ours will be teaching a Permaculture Design Course featuring Rising Locust Farm as one of the on-site "class rooms". A class on regenerative ecology for the 21st century landscape with Robyn Mello, Wilson Alvarez, & Benjamin Weiss. This course will embody the permaculture principle: “design from patterns to details.” Students will begin at the foundation of ecological design by understanding ecological concepts and principles, learning to deeply observe natural patterns. During the course, we’ll take students on a journey through ever more detailed aspects of ecological design, developing towards a tool-kit of land-based techniques for building a new paradigm of community and economy. Click here for full class description and registration
Looking for Logs
Its that time of year again. 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, or simply come pick up wood that's already been felled. We are looking to source logs for mushroom inoculation this winter and early spring. We can use oak, maple, beech, some birch, and ironwood. We need wood that is 4-8" in diameter to make mushroom logs, but we can take other sizes for firewood if some of it falls in the appropriate range. Call 717-693-3381.
INSIGHTS FROM THE PAST HELP US DESIGN FOR THE FUTURE
This past year we've had the pleasure to become acquainted with a mostly unknown treasure in southeast PA. Our good friends Dale Hendricks, of Green Light Plants, and fellow native plant nerd and permaculturist, Zach Elfers, have been mapping, studying, tasting and crawling among the remnants of the late John Hershey's tree crop plantations hidden among Downingtown's neighborhoods. John Hershey was an early permaculture pioneer before the term was officially coined. He was a contemporary of J. Russell Smith who wrote, "Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture", and both were committed to designing a better agricultural system based on fruit and nut trees, shrubs and other perennials instead of corn-soy monocultures. These systems are the very ones that we are visioning for Rising Locust Farm. It has been a dream come true to witness and interact with a design that has matured 80 years later, despite being encroached upon by development in the name of progress.
Burr oaks, honey locusts, persimmons, and pecans are some of the major varieties that Hershey tinkered with. One of his goals was to grow forage for his pigs (sound familiar?) that would fall throughout a full season. So, in honoring Johns mission, Dale urged us to forage bags full of honey locust pods to bring back and feed our beloved swine. The pigs loved it. We also feasted on the super-sugary fruits and pods and Laila made an excellent Kombucha with them too. And. we're currently in the process of drying and stratifying seed of Hershey's honey locusts, persimmons and hiccan nuts (hickory/pecan hybrid) so that we can grow out Hershey's trees in the spring to further his dream and our own.
"In the next two decades, it is predicted that 400 million acres of farmland in the US will change hands." - The Agrarian Trust
Accessing land is then number one barrier most young and beginning farmers face in their effort to grow food in service of their community and land. There are so many people who have the skills, energy, and drive to farm in a regenerative way but cannot due to the incredibly high start-up and capital costs of farming, especially in a world where land prices skyrocket and ownership is increasingly consolidated in the hands of a wealthy few. Also, the payoff of farming often takes 5-10 years before any profit can be realized and the commitment needed for perennial crops (read: regenerative farming) to mature is often much longer. These structural barriers are significant and often prohibitive in an economy that mostly values a quick profit and the next best thing.
Thankfully, there are many creative ways organizations and people are addressing the issues of land access. Some churches are providing their vast landholdings and public spaces as areas to grow food for the public, landowners are partnering with beginning farmers to provide affordable long-term leases, and land trusts continue to grow as a way to keep land tenure costs low and in productive hands. The Agrarian Trust is one of a number of land access organizations that is tirelessly working to help connect farmers with land and increase the amount of regenerative land stewards in the world. You can find more resources and info on their website.
The personal vision for our farm is to turn a 40 acre farm that might produce one or two main crops if managed by a single farmer into an agricultural mosaic of crops that can support multiple farmers in a farming community all while outyielding a single crop farm and restoring the land. Instead of 40 acres of corn or soy, it is 40 acres of grass-fed meats, nuts, fruit, veggies, grains and legumes, mushrooms, herbs, firewood, lumber, fenceposts, fibers, community-building, wildlife habitat, and carbon sequestration. All of those different enterprises represent opportunities for more farmers, more community relationships, and greater ecological resiliency. It's approaching land access issues not through land acquisition for a single farmer but by better utilizing land so that many farmers can farm together. A 40 acre farm becomes a way to have a grazier, orchardist, herbalist, veggie farmer, grain grower, woodworker, and mushroom guru all working the same land. Here's to diversifying our relationships with the land and people!
Winter Woodland Cleanup Party - February TBA
Join us in our first work party of the year to help clean up the trash left in the woods and restore the health of the Little Chiques creek corridor. After a good morning of community work we will have a meal prepared for all of the helpers. Look for details on facebook and in your inbox in early February.
Mushroom Inoculation Workshop - Late February/Early March TBA
Come learn how to cultivate shiitake mushrooms outdoors on wood logs. We will teach some of the basics of mycology, outdoor mushroom cultivation, and walk through the entire process of mushroom log inoculation. Go home with your own shiitake log! Details and price to follow, a limited number of participants will be accepted.
Spring Tree Planting Party - March/April - TBA
When the buds begin to swell on the trees its time for some spring tree planting to make the farm and world a better place! Come help us plant trees and eat a hearty meal provided by the farm. Learn about all of the amazing benefits of trees in agricultural ecosystems. Look for details on facebook and in your inbox this early spring.