Sandhill Farm, Rutledge, Missouri

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Thu, 01/11/2018 - 16:06

Sandhill Farm is notable for being one of the longest lasting communes in the US, and for being one of the top producers of sorghum syrup in the Midwest. I stayed there for a few days in 2004 and helped with the sorghum harvest; then stopped by again in 2007 with a tour group from Fairfield.

See an album of photos of my visits to Sandhill Farm.

Surya Nagar Farm, Fairfield, Iowa

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Sat, 12/30/2017 - 10:37

Lonnie Gamble bought Surya Nagar Farm (Sanskrit for "home of the sun") in an off-grid development outside Fairfield in about 1994. By the time I saw it in 2004, he and his wife Valerie had built two strawbale houses and a hoop house on the property; by the time he sold it around 2015, there was also a strawbale barn that he used as a shop, office, and classroom. Lonnie's style of year-round gardening in an unheated hoop house was heavily influenced by Eliot Coleman, and he and Valerie named their son Eliot. Lonnie was one of my biggest inspirations in learning and teaching permaculture.

Abundance Ecovillage, Fairfield, Iowa

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Thu, 12/28/2017 - 12:27

Abundance Ecovillage is a housing development outside Fairfield, Iowa. When I first visited Fairfield in 2004, there was only one house completed at the ecovillage, and another under construction. Since then it has grown into a community of dozens of houses; some are strawbale, some cob or other green building materials, and others are made of conventional materials but built to be super-efficient. In 2010 when I got my permaculture design certification, part of the ecovillage's land had been transferred to the Sustainable Living Coalition (SLC) and part to private ownership.

Dreamtime Village, West Lima, Wisconsin

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Sun, 12/24/2017 - 12:48

Dreamtime Village is an aspiring ecovillage in the unincorporated town of West Lima, WI. The former school and a number of surrounding buildings were purchased at auction by a community of artists from nearby Madison, and they proceeded to decorate the buildings without first evaluating them for structural integrity or safety. When asbestos was found in the school a few months later, they had to abandon the building, and when I visited in 2004 it was being reclaimed by nature, murals and school buses and all. I didn't take nearly enough photos.

Kansas Rural Center conference notes, Nov 17-18, 2017

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Sun, 11/19/2017 - 19:43

Keynote: "What can one person do? The perspective of a long-time activist" by Denise O'Brien, Atlantic, Iowa

  • (ran for Iowa secretary of agriculture in 2007?)
  • Why farm? for family, for physical activity and connection to nature. Also to set a good example, amid ample bad examples.
  • Distinguish between agribusiness and agriculture, because agribusiness gives nothing back to the ecology or culture, but real farmers participate in the community.
  • Finding a niche market for organic products is crucial.

Notes from Fuller Field School, August 17-18, 2017

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Tue, 08/22/2017 - 16:25
  • videos will be on
  • first field school was about how to cover crop, and what it could do for soil.
  • focus on nutrient dense food led to focus on local organic food during conference.
  • Aug 29 field day in Holton, KS, free of charge but please register.

"Healthy Soil, Healthy Humans" - Gail Fuller, G&L Whole Food

  • in 2000, farming 3200 acres of corn & soy
  • 2011, Ray Archuleta came to see farm, said it was too big, 5-600 acres at most.

Illustrated audio garden tour, 2017

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Fri, 07/07/2017 - 09:12

In June of 2017, I gave an informal tour of our urban farm for a few members of the local garden club. In addition to my voice, you'll hear my wife Jessie and local farmer Tim Nicklin. Rather than record it as a video, I've made a slideshow to accompany the audio using photos from all 9 years we've lived here, as well as some from the weeks after the tour took place. See the slide descriptions for the timestamps when they are described in the audio.

Audio recording of the tour