Biodynamic Workshop at Swallowtail Waldorf School & Farm

We had the privilege of visiting Swallowtail Waldorf School & Farm today for an introduction to biodynamics, hosted by the Oregon Biodynamic Group. Tony and I had a basic understanding of biodynamics but had been interested in learning more and today offered us the perfect opportunity to dive into the basics. I had been a little leery of biodynamics after an experience I had on a biodynamic farm in New Zealand 7 years ago… It was a small homestead specializing in blueberries. I helped with normal tasks like weeding, hauling things, digging, etc. One day while I was there, I happened upon the owner of the farm who looked startled when I found her in a dark corner kneeling before a few piles of cow poop, with several lit candles surrounding her and the poop. At the time, I thought she was worshipping the cow manure. I was a little shocked, and ran out of the room. She never mentioned it to me and I was left wondering. A few years later I heard a description of biodynamics and made the connection between the revered cow poop and biodynamic preparations. I began to understand that the preparations, although seemingly strange (like smashing cow manure in a cow horn and burying it), has quite a bit of science and practicality to it. I will share a little bit about what we learned today, and some photos of Swallowtail Farm.


tire swing at Swallowtail Farm

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the McMinnville Farm Fest 2015

Today we attended the 2015 McMinnville Farm Fest and Draft Horse Competition. We learned about spinning wool, blacksmithing, horseshoeing, milling, and plowing with draft horses. It was an enjoyable day and we wanted to share a few photos:


the greeter

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Potluck and Screening of “INHABIT” on APRIL 23, 2015

We will be hosting a screening of “INHABIT: A Permaculture Perspective” on Thursday April 23, 2015, at 7pm in the AgriVino Event Center at Abbey Road Farm, in the Yamhill/Carlton area.

“INHABIT” is a beautifully done documentary following at least a dozen small farmers and permaculturalists from the Midwestern and Eastern States with a positive message of change through permaculture principles. If you are an organic farmer, student of permaculture, or interested in learning about a positive, hopeful path into the future, come watch the film! If you cannot attend, you can also rent, stream, or buy the DVD. To find out more about the movie itself, click on the picture below:

INHABIT_Poster_Video Frame

We will also be hosting a potluck dinner, and providing a smoked, pastured turkey! Bring a side dish or dessert and drinks & YOUR OWN PLATES AND SILVERWARE.

We are hoping to gather a good group of people, and hope you can make it.

Please RSVP by emailing

visiting the Salatins at Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia

the entrance to Polyface farm in Swoope, Virginia.

the entrance to Polyface farm in Swoope, Virginia.

I have applied to be a Polyface Summer Intern with Joel Salatin and his family for two years in a row. The first year I did not make it past the first round of questions, but the second year I did, and was invited as one of 45 “check outs” for a two day visit this last December. I want to share my experience with you, but will first explain the application and acceptance process. Continue reading

“INHABIT” the documentary: a permaculture perspective

INHABIT_Poster_Video Frame

I recently watched an early screening of a film called: “INHABIT: A Permaculture Perspective” with the makers of the movie at the Permaculture Voices Conference in San Diego. It is truly worthwhile — the best of the food and agriculture documentaries that I have seen. I believe this film has the power to inspire and inform people of all ages and walks of life with the hope that there are good and positive changes happening in our food systems. The film is released on April 22, 2015, and can be viewed here on our blog. I am planning to buy a hardcopy and show this movie to as many people as possible!


Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our planet? This is the premise behind permaculture: a design process based on the replication of patterns found in nature. INHABIT explores the many environmental issues facing us today and examines solutions that are being applied using the ecological design lens of permaculture. Focused mostly on the Northeastern and Midwestern regions of the United States, Inhabit provides an intimate look at permaculture peoples and practices ranging from rural, suburban, and urban landscapes.

Farmer and Rancher Rally Day at the Oregon Capitol


Tony and I participated in this rally yesterday at the Oregon State Capitol. It was sponsored by the Friends of Family Farmers organization, whose goal is: Promoting and protecting socially responsible farming in Oregon. It was established ten years ago when some concerned citizens got to together to protest the establishment of a 55,000 head dairy operation in eastern Oregon. Since then, their numbers have grown and they operate a number of programs that help them in their mission. For more information about Friends of Family Famers, go here.

Yesterday, Tony and I decided to join the ranks of over 150 oregon small farmers at the state Capitol where we were educated on some current bills including:

Enhancing and Funding Aggie Bonds (lower interest loans for beginning farmers)

Protecting Working Lands

Increased Funding for OSU Extension and Ag Research Programs 

State Level Genetically Engineered regulation

Agritourism liability protections

Preventing Misuse of Antibiotics

Farm to School funding

Urban Agriculture incentive zones

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Permaculture Voices Conference #2 is fast approaching


We wanted to put a quick plug in for the Permaculture Voices Conference, which will be held in San Diego March 4-8. Last year, Tony and I attended the first annual conference and were blown away with the quality, inspiration, and information we gained in 4 quick days. We heard talks from people like Michael Pollan, Geoff Lawton, Allan Savory, Joel Salatin, and Willie Smits, among dozens of others. We were incredibly inspired and walked away ready to change the world by permaculturing a midwestern corn field, or greening some desert somewhere. Of course, in reality we’d like to settle near some mountains and in trees but the information we gleaned about properly managing animals, soil health, setting up a small dairy or starting our own business was well worth the investment. Perhaps the most inspiration we’ve taken away from last year’s conference, and Diego Footer’s podcasts (which are well worth your time, by the way, and found here) is our motivation to get serious about our goal to start a farm by thinking realistically about the business end of farming. Continue reading

a long overdue update from our tipi in montana

A recent photo of our home for the last 10 months: a tipi surrounded by a garden berm

A recent photo of our home for the last 10 months: a tipi surrounded by a garden berm

Hello from the Tipi in Montana! We don’t actually have internet or electricity (or even water for that matter) at the tipi, so that combined with the fact that we have been keeping ourselves very busy these last months, our posts have become non-existent. It is often much easier for us to pretend the virtual world doesn’t exist, but it certainly has its value. I do think that sharing our story is worthwhile so we plan to update this blog more often when we find the time.

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our winter home: a Rocket Mass Heater in a Tipi in Montana

our winter home: a Rocket Mass Heater in a Tipi in Montana

It has been far too long since our last blog post. We have not been lazy. Once the government shut down October 1, we packed overnight and headed out to Paul Wheaton’s land near Missoula in Montana. We will be spending the winter here, and possibly longer. And there have been many projects. We have helped build the first ever “wofati” (more on that later), attended workshops on building rocket mass heaters and slaughtering, butchering, curing and cooking pork, and are now trying to finish our winter home: a cob rocket mass heater in a tipi before it snows too much. We have a thread at where we have been updating our progress with photos. If you are interested check it out, and we will try to post more often now that winter is approaching.

Joel Salatin Workshop

Last weekend, Tony and I made a long jaunt up to northern Idaho to catch the all-day Joel Salatin workshop, part of a 2 week “animals in permaculture” course. As an added bonus, Paul Wheaton of was speaking the night before. Idaho is less than an hour away from us, but northern Idaho is another story. It turned out to be somewhere between 12 and 13 hours of driving each way, but it was worth it. It was nice to visit an area of the country we’d never really been to before. Northern Idaho is it’s own world. It felt like Wisconsin to Tony — very humid and a monstrous morning thunderstorm. There are mostly large monocrop wheat fields in the area, but the rolling green hills were beautiful.


(Joel Salatin and Paul Wheaton)

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