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 is a biologist and chemist with experience in 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.
We will be hiring a farmer who will be running our small farm operations.
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 25+ 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.
Water rights and/or well(s)
On site septic
3 phase power
Road in and out
Home or habitable structure
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.
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
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
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.
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