Seeking Purchase or Lease Option to Buy: 50+ acres in Benton or Linn County


Land Seeker Description

Dr. Melissa Bird and James Kelly are the co-founders of The Mermaid’s Garden, LLC. We are looking to build a regenerative and sustainable retreat center and aquaculture farm in either Benton or Linn County. Based on the concept of radical welcome, The Mermaid’s Garden would give our guests the opportunity to engage in sacred connection with themselves, with others, and with the land. Guests can expect an exceptional intimate setting that includes forest, farm, and streams.

Melissa has spent the last 25 years creating community based systems that improve the overall health of communities. James has spent the last three years as a student and research assistant at Oregon State University studying biology, marine biology, aquaculture, and ecology.

Melissa and James are building The Mermaid’s Garden to provide people a place based on the rule of radical welcome, where everyone is invited to sit at their table. The Mermaid’s Garden exists to create a space where people can gather to rest, create, learn, and grow spiritually and emotionally. Our sole purpose is to introduce people to the healing power of nature and farming, with a unique focus on veterans and people with disabilities.

For the last 3 years we have been working towards building our dream of a hybrid striped bass aquaculture farm in the Willamette Valley. My husband, James Kelly, is a veteran who served our nation in 2 deployments. He has a degree in biology and chemistry and will be our aquaculture farmer and aquaculture farm manager. We will be building a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) that uses less water and resources than typical fish farming enterprises. This RAS system would be the first of its kind in Oregon. We will be providing veterans with training and employment opportunities on the farm.

Our farmer who will be running our small farm operations is named Johanna Hamilton. She has two years of experience in 4-H and has farmed in urban and rural communities in both the United States and abroad. The crops we are looking to grow include:

Tomatoes (different varieties), Onions, Carrots, Shallots, Berries, Kale, Lettuce, Spinach, Greens, Peaches, Apples, Eggplants, Peppers, Zucchini, Rosemary, Sage, Mugwort, Mint, Lavender, Thyme, Parsley, Catnip, Hemlock, Datura, Henbane, Mandrake, Belladonna, Oregano, Dill, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Roses

We are looking for 50+ acres, water rights or high producing wells, 3 phase power, forest/trees as part of farmland, a home with at least 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a river or stream running through the property.

Minimum water quality requirements are:

Salinity <2
pH 6.7-7.4
Dissolved CO2 <20
Alkalinity 50-100
Hardness >60
Nitrate Nitrogen <150
Unionized Ammonia Nitrogen <50
Dissolved O2 >95% average

Our retreat space would include the following amenities (from our website


Book one of our exclusive 4-7 day retreat experiences or plan your own. The Mermaid’s Garden has an art studio space, a labyrinth that is wheelchair and walker accessible, hiking trails, spaces for yoga and meditation, and much more.

Space Rental

Whether you are hosting a farm to table event, a ½ day meeting or a 7 day retreat, The Mermaid’s Garden has the space rental you need, in the rural setting that you crave. Overnight accommodations for up to 10-12 people in the yurts and up to 10 people in our lotus tents means there is a unique opportunity for everyone to enjoy our amenities. Call or email to speak with our event planner.

Farm Stay USA

Our unique farm stay experience invites you to stay overnight in the country and experience our lifestyle – for a night, for a weekend, or more. Learn about our crops and our unique RAS aquaculture fish farm.


Love the outdoors but don’t enjoy sleeping in a crappy tent? Join us for a one of a kind glamping experience complete with many comforts of home. Our lotus tents and restroom facilities will leave you feeling comfortable, connected to nature, and well rested for adventure.

Forest Bathing

Immerse your senses in the natural world. The Mermaid’s Garden offers exceptional opportunities for a relaxing, mindful, sensory forest bathing experience.

What features of the property are essential?

Water rights and/or well(s)
On site septic
3 phase power
Road in and out
Home or habitable structure

Describe your farming experience

Neither James nor I have farming experience. We have partnered with the Oregon Aquaculture Association to hire our aquaculture farmer and with Oregon State University to hire our crop farmer.

Are you currently farming?


What are your short term goals for the land

Build aquaculture farm operation and produce 100,000 lbs of fish per year by year 2
Build crop farm operation and implement programs for marginalized youth
Create partnerships and work opportunities for veterans, minorities, and others who are interested in learning how to farm

What are your long term goals

Establish our farm as the leader in RAS farming for the PNW
Establish long term research partnerships with OSU and extension
To be seen as the premier farm where regenerative and sustainable practices are at the core of our mission and operations

Describe your housing needs

We would like to live on the farm with our 2 children, 2 dogs, and 1 cat. We are looking for a home that has at least 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. We will be building additional housing yurts as part of our vision for the retreat space.

Additional Land Seeker Details

Regions interested in farming:

Acreage desired:
21+ acres

Seeking land access by:
February 28, 2021

Interested in raising the following crops / livestock:
Beans, Bees, Berries, Herbs, Mushrooms, Orchard/Fruit, Vegetables, Other

Interested in these business arrangements:
Sale of Land, Lease-to-own, Lease with option to purchase, Other

Interested in these growing practices:
Certified Organic, Organic, Not Certified, 7

Date when this profile was last modified or created:
December 22, 2020

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