organic farm

Farmland Available: Listening Tree Cooperative

cropped-raised-beds-of-hocus-pocus.jpg

[May 1, 2019 update]

Want to live on your farm? Want to afford to own your farm? Want to start small with room to grow? We still have some land available for farming in the 2019 season–in the no- or low-till section, where the raised beds were worked for three years by Hocus Pocus Farm, and are now in cover crop.

Ultimately, we hope people farming here would live in our group household and be part of the community. But other options are available. Farmers could:

  • lease some of the land still available (2 acres or less),
  • lease to own (as described below),
  • live here or commute,
  • grow annual vegetables or herbs, raise animals, or develop a food forest/perennial crops.

Continue reading “Farmland Available: Listening Tree Cooperative”

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A Whirlwind Tour of Compost: from vermicompost to humanure

Our last scheduled Event @ Listening Tree for the summer…

July 6, 2-4
with Conor Lally
inside vermiculture shed
Inside the worm composting operation at Listening Tree

Take a whirlwind tour of compost – including various backyard methods, worm composting at the home and farm scale, composting humanure and the many options for eco-toilets and urine diversion. We will discuss the basic science of composting, various technologies and methods, and how to select a system that best meets your needs and preferences. We’ll cover some key points on how to get started and how to approach misinformation and misconceptions that persist. We’ll take a look back at the history of synthetic fertilizer, waterborne sanitation, and industrial farming to better understand how we arrived at our current state, and how we can shift towards a better system that eliminates pollution, protects water, and builds healthy soils. 

Conor Lally of Nutrient Networks will introduce principles and practices, with an insiders view of all three types of composting in action at Listening Tree Co-op.

$20

Register here.

local food & food justice, organic farm, permaculture, species

Last chance for bees

“Due to the use of pesticides — along with climate change, loss of flower meadows, and parasites — bee populations are in decline. Three quarters of all crops around the world rely on animal pollination. But due to pollinator loss, between $235 billion and $577 billion in crop value is at risk,” ThinkProgress summarizes part of the UN extinction report released this week. But it’s not about the money so much as it is about food security. Which the report does mention:  ecological collapse threatens horror upon horror.

This is the last chance to save 500,000 of the one million species that don’t have a fracking home on the earth, or to go back to the technical language, have insufficient habitat to survive as a species.

Coincidentally, or not, it’s also the last chance to sign up for our bee habitat workshop next Saturday, May 18. You can learn right now how to make life easier for pollinators. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Get those rush tix! Coexist!

 

 

Events @ Listening Tree, permaculture

Tree planting at Listening Tree tomorrow

A few hours before Jackson Gillman and Pierre Giono tell the story of the Man Who Planted Hope–about a reclusive French tree planter–tomorrow, a handful of volunteers will help us plant some new trees here.

Several fruit trees will make a wavy line along the Northedge food forest, where we have already started some larger nut trees: shagbark hickory, chestnut, hazelnuts, and hardy almonds. A few more will make a second wavy line along the Southedge food forest, where we already have a mulberry, two apples, two hardy figs, and a pack of pawpaws. Connecting the food forests, along the pond and perennial stream, are goji berries, elderberries, black currants, and highbush blueberries. Throughout, we’ve started June-bearing strawberries as groundcover.

It’s hard to believe it was just two years ago we were brainstorming  a permaculture site design–

 

 

 

 

cooperative ownership, local food & food justice

No lords, no serfs

deer-on-the-cooperativeOne of the most disturbing social trends (and there are so many) unfolding beneath our feet here in the US is farmers being priced out of land ownership. Since former Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz infamously demanded, “get big or get out!” millions of small farms foreclosed, went bankrupt, or got pushed out of the business. Agribusiness replaced agriculture: Wendell Berry sounded the alarm of the Unsettling of America. And now it’s getting worse.

Many middle-class hippies who went “back to the land” in the sixties and seventies could  afford to buy a little farm, but not necessarily to make a living at farming. Today, most US farms lose money. An unbelievable 95%, according to Agricultural Justice Project. Most small farmers are subsidizing the local organic food movement with second or third jobs. Milking the goat or weeding the garden is our third shift. Meanwhile, agriculture brings in almost $60-70 billion a year. What’s wrong with this picture?

Everything. The price of food has almost nothing to do with its value or the cost of growing it–labor, land, inputs, or environmental externalities. Food that kills you is cheaper than food that nourishes. The entire economy is so twisted, that the land we need to grow the food we need to live is valued orders of magnitude higher for building new houses or box stores, even in a state like Rhode Island, where there is enough housing for the people who are here and malls are empty.

But most concerning is the trend toward tenant farming, and even worse, young farmers commuting to their rented farmland. Rhode Island’s young farmers not only can’t afford a down payment on their farm, they can’t even rent a farm with a farmhouse. Besides the unsustainability of the driving, there’s the psychological disconnect from the rhythms of the land they steward, and the disincentive to take care of the soil for the long term.

Soil is the–shall we say–bedrock of organic farming. Healthy soil feeds healthy plants  that can resist insects, disease, drought–all kinds of trouble. But building healthy farm soil is a multiyear project, and if a farmer doesn’t have land tenure–know they can stay on their land as long as they like–there’s always the threat that their investment in soil could be taken away from them when comes time to renew a lease.

When we were looking for the land that became Listening Tree, aware of these issues, we consulted with Equity Trust, the Cooperative Development Institute, and other food movement groups to develop our structure as a limited-equity cooperative, with 10 share holders, each able to negotiate an agreement with the group regarding stewarding a part of the land for their own farm or other land-based business. Those agreements will ensure land tenure, after a trial period of one growing season, while both farmer and household can ensure they are ready to commit to stewarding this beautiful land.

The co-op owner-members use a kind of consensus process to ensure decision making is collaborative and fair. Together, we’ll adopt agreements with interested members for “farm shares”–ownership shares that include living here plus a commitment to use and take care of specific fields of the farmland. Farmer owner members will be responsible to the community, but will be able to run their own business without fear of losing their land.

Events @ Listening Tree, local food & food justice

Young Farmer Night

June 10, 6 pm
with Young Farmer Network

This growing season, Young Farmer Network is hosting a series of Young Farmer Nights focused on the theme of land access and land tenure.

We’re thrilled to be part of it, because a big part of our mission here at Listening Tree is to make housing and land permanently affordable, and help farmers be able to live on their land, with ownership, yet without the full cost of buying a farm by ourselves. That is why we chose the model of a “limited equity cooperative,” and are selling shares that include land tenure protections for farmers’ long-term viability–and for the sake of the soil.

No RSVP required. Will be a tour, talk about land access and Listening Tree’s model, a potluck, and finally a fire circle, weather permitting.

Young Farmer Nights are open to ANYONE and EVERYONE, all ages and backgrounds and farming experience levels are welcome. children are welcome! 2019 is the tenth consecutive year that we have been running these tours!

Read more about the history of YFN here (http://www.youngfarmernetwork.org/about-our-network/#/yfn-story/) .

Each YFN is structured as a tour followed by a potluck and hang time. Please bring a dish to contribute to the potluck dinner, as well as a plate and fork for yourself.

Tours begin at 6pm.

If you’re running late, it’s still worthwhile to come! We will try to wait for stragglers, but if we have to get moving we’ll leave a note of where you can find us on the tour.

Re: the potluck — if you’re farming all day and are busy and manage to tear yourself away but can’t bring a potluck item, you are still welcome! we understand!

Events @ Listening Tree, local food & food justice

Foraging and propogating “wild” edibles with Russ Cohen

Russ @ Blue Heron ewp, July, 2016 - good photo

Sunday, June 2, 2-5 PM

Northern Rhode Island is home to over 70 species of edible wild plants, some of which are more nutritious and/or flavorful than their cultivated counterparts. Join Russ Cohen, expert forager and author of Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten, on a 3-hour ramble to learn about at least two dozen edible plant species.  As each species is encountered, Russ will present information on identification tips, edible portion(s), season(s) of availability and preparation methods. Russ will also provide general guidelines for safe and environmentally-responsible foraging. Last but not least, Russ will also share details about propagating native edible species from seed, and how to identify appropriate places in the landscape to plant them.

Online registration here.