Leafhopper Farm has been through a lot of transition over the past few years. The landscape has evolved slowly, and will continue to be an ever changing face, weather we are actively shaping or not. Certainly, the work has been hard, and at times, it becomes hard to see the change happening.
It helps to gain perspective, by stepping back and looking at the whole. For the farm, this can easily be done in pictures. There were many visions that have become realities in the last year or two, and more to come. Personally, I would like to recognize the clean up of trash and junk is almost at a point where truckloads are turning into wheelbarrow loads and dump runs will become annual instead of seasonal.
Looking back at first year photos, it’s easy to see how far the gardens have come. That’s a key focus for the farm, as our vegetable matter comes from these well tended and protected spaces near the main house. Porch shots not only capture garden development, but also greater building projects like the cabin and greenhouse.
In the first year, there was no garden. Then in early 2014 an insta-garden got dropped to the southeast of the house and veggie production began. The front yard garden was sculpted early on with hugaculture, but no soil was cultivated in that space till 2015.
front porch 2013
Seeing the amount of developed systems that have formed in just the past two years is encouraging. In the below photo, gardens with cloche, greenhouse, grain bed, pond, cabin, cisterns, worm bins, and a nice cup of coffee round out a very productive growth at Leafhopper Farm.
The beautification of community space at the farm has been ongoing too. After the kitchen and bathhouse were completed in 2015, residence have been settling in and we are not hosting 5 beautiful people full time. This is a great milestone for Leafhopper Farm. We even have a tiny house folded in, which is a step ahead of capacity goals for 2016. With the addition of an outdoor kitchen in 2017, the farm will created dedicated space for summer WWOOFer internships.
Outdoor habitat is most important to the philosophy of space and habitation being cultivated at Leafhopper. The Red Barn hosts the main external facilities for residence. A kitchen has expanded into the south facing gardens to offer outdoor dinning and kitchen garden space complete with fruit trees and spigot. The raised beds, started by Bastyre University students as a work project, are fast becoming productive beds for the farm. This space has gone through a lot of revamping.
Leafhopper Farm is on a slope. The land has been carved out into terraces, but there is limited flat ground so most of the farm’s big picture design revolves around using gravity as advantage. The truth is, not matter how we try, entropy will continue to pull the soil and water down hill, along with infrastructure, so we adapt. Retaining wall gardens and the continual introduction of new biomass will help slow the deterioration, perhaps even reversing the problem in some areas. Landscaping is one thing, terraforming is another. Fully reshaping terrain takes a long time, as soil settles slowly. Luckily, we’ve got lifetimes of stewarding planned in this space.
Sometimes projects get a little rushed, making more work in the long term. As a sculptor, I enjoy shaping a concept; most art remains fluid, like a landscape. This patio is shaping into a gathering space on the land, but it’s not solid. The stone slips down hill into a garlic bed which is only just beginning to settle. The hugaculture will break down over time and many more wheelbarrows of soil must be introduced to this space to hold it up. This is why the stone has no mortar. The land would tear the form apart. With sand, you have a liquid structure. The stones sit still enough, yet pliably, to invite subtle shifts in the ground beneath.
I’m working on being like sand, shifting positions and holding the weight with grace and beauty. Gravity is not something to lean against, you’ll surly fall. It’s lessons like this which get me up early each morning to experience the farm. What shifts happened in the night? How are the plants growing today? Where are new deer beds in the back field? Who heard the owl last night? It’s this curiosity which feeds the creative action necessary in building a world. Leafhopper Farm is a place of growth.