I am a passionate land steward, small-scale farmer, and ecological gardener in my 30’s. I grew up in towns outside of the Catskills of New York and the Appalachians of Pennsylvania and now bring my roots with me to the PNW. I have been here for two years now and have found that the soil is well-suited to these roots of mine.
Back in Pittsburgh, PA, I worked on two different small-scale diversified organic produce farms for three years. For several years during and after, I helped with farmers’ markets for one of the farms I had been growing produce on. After that time of farming (and selling) for other people, I came to realize my interest in working for myself and (to my surprise) my knack for business. But I was living in the city and not ready to own land or settle down. So I began my back-and-front yard farmette for personal consumption and fermented foods as I apprenticed with a permaculture organization. I soon thereafter began my work in ecological landscaping both independently and along with a collective of other women landscapers for a total of five years.
Before ever traversing the paths of farming and landscaping, I had graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with degrees in Interdisciplinary Arts and Psychology. More and more, I am glad to find that the subjects of art, music, and the mind are very at home in the potato patch with the red-winged blackbird or the mason jar of “interdisciplinary” garden contents.
Currently, I am both stewarding a small farm and doing residential gardening in the Willamette Valley. I have worked hard to find the intersections of the things that I enjoy and that support me. I love what I do and I am hopeful to discover some land to build a relationship with and bring this love to over time.
Land/housing that can accommodate myself and an indoor/outdoor cat who is an extremely excellent hunter and who has a great sense of humor
Organically cared for farmland (certified or not)
Not essential, but already-established fruit trees or other perennial crops would be wonderful
My related experience has been in annual vegetable cultivation and sales (5 years), perennial garden design & business (5 years), some (2 years) livestock and poultry experience (goats, sheep, pigs, turkeys, chicken), and the study and practice of healing with herbs and food - both cultivated and responsibly foraged from the wild. I currently steward a small historical farm with a heritage fruit tree orchard and feel so blessed to be able to live so close to the birds, barn cats, alders and cedars. Aside from my farm responsibilities and winter fruit-tree pruning for our neighbors, I am currently pursuing three interrelated tracks of education: Agricultural Entrepreneurship (WSU), Herbal Immersion Program (Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine) and Master Pruner Course Series (Plant Amnesty, Seattle).
Right away, I would want to: Learn about the local and surrounding ecosystem of the prospective land; create (or learn the current) systems for caring for the plants, animals, and buildings already present on the land; build soil as needed; get other basic landscape, infrastructure, farm, and business systems established; and design and self-supporting regenerative/agroforestry plan for the land.
Short-term business goals include: Depending on the land and situation, I would like to begin growing medicinal herbs for value-added products as soon as I am able. If there is an orchard or other perennial fruit system present, I would process fruits for the production of healthy, fermented drinks (like fruit "kvass"), vinegars, and syrups. Another option is to develop a native and medicinal plant nursery to support a part-time ecological gardening and restoration business while I get myself and the farm established. (A potential nursery could extend to support the long-term goal of growing perennials, forage, and pollinators for the farm.)
My long-term vision is to establish an herb, fruit tree, and annual and perennial food farm that includes animals (ducks, chickens, and possibly sheep and/or goats). I am interested in incorporating woodlands into the animal and food systems over time, experimenting and recording-keeping my experiences in agroforestry as I go. (I hope to support the research and development of this field over time.)
In addition to producing value-added products of fruits and herbs on-site, my commitment is to steward and develop land that may become a place of retreat, education, and/or working community. I am a dirt-minded designer who really enjoys the behind-the-scenes work of creating beautiful, accessible, and enjoyable spaces. I envision the farm ultimately having experiential and/or educational components such as minimal retreat-style offerings, plant medicine consultations, and workshops on topics like ecopsychology and land-based arts.
While I am a highly independent, small-but-mighty, interdisciplinary, and organized (read: I like things to be a certain way!) and thorough worker, I am also very open-minded and empathetic person who loves solving the puzzle: "Can we meet everyone's needs? If so, how?" I have been uncovering in recent years how happy I am when I am leading projects and organizing systems. I know that, just like the land, I thrive and flourish within a supportive community. Depending on the size of the property, I may hope to be a part of a team of stewards over time. These may be individuals from the community, or possibly folks who would share the land. I have been involved with cooperative, collective, and guild organizations, and love to see how experts, specialists, and lovers of their trade and craft can support the larger vision while being equally supported in their callings and livelihoods. (I currently have one person who may eventually join me in stewardship and partnership. Her background and interests are education, mushroom cultivation, soil and human health, and microbiomes.)
I would most likely need housing on-site or nearby. I am open (and depending on the learning opportunities, possibly preferential) to shared land, but require my own sleeping space and kitchen.
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