Our overriding goal is to live sustainably—which for us means trying to live peacefully and justly in our world. Our current saga began in the late 1970s when Ron rekindled a long dormant interest in gardening. He completed the Master Gardening training sponsored by OSU. In 1982 Ron was part of the first full-blown Permaculture Design Course in the US. That experience inspired us to try to demonstrate the possibility of living sustainably with other people in a particular place for the long-term.
After a year of looking for land through the lens of Permaculture we found a place that spoke to us. Our 45 acre farm is located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Beavercreek, Oregon.
Guided by the principles of Permaculture, we began the process of healing the land. Of course, healing is a two-way process. Our attempts at healing the land have been healing for us as well. This process of healing is leading to our land becoming part of a perpetual land trust, as the most certain way of ensuring that the healing that has begun will continue.
One of the things living sustainably means is minimizing our impact on the land. Our home and buildings have been sited to be a part of the landscape and designed to be energy efficient and sustainable. Sustainable living also means being able to make a livelihood from the land. Most of our farm is mixed age, mixed species forest which we manage sustainably using the criteria of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Our vineyards and orchards are managed using Organic methods. Our cider and wines are made from the fruit we grow and process here. As part of our commitment to sustainability we have tried to produce and price our products to make them approachable and affordable with everyday meals. We hope they’re an expression of the land and people that produce them.
*Note: all of the following definitions are directly or indirectly from the co-founders of Permaculture—Bill Mollison and David Holmgren.
What is Permaculture?
Zen definition- Permaculture is the re-arrangement of nothing new into the proper sequence.
Permaculture- Permanent Agriculture
Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order.
Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all its forms.
The philosophy behind Permaculture is one of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation implemented by thoughtful and protracted action, rather than protracted and thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions, rather than asking only one yield of them; and of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolution.
Our house is a geodesic dome constructed by us and designed to be heated using passive solar techniques. Our alternative heat source is wood, which we grow and process here. We built our winery using lumber we milled ourselves from the leftovers of our forest thinning/harvesting activities. We used soy-based insulation and a 16 SEER heat pump system to heat and cool the winery. We are working with the Carbon Neutral Challenge guidelines for the Oregon Wine Industry to further reduce our carbon footprint.
In addition to using Organic methods in the vineyard and orchard to help us grow sustainably, we try to minimize inputs in the winemaking process. When we need to intervene, we try to use winemaking products that are OMRI(Organic Materials Review Institute) listed whenever possible. We also use(and reuse)neutral oak barrels—for among other reasons—to reduce our impact on oak forests. Our wine labels are printed on recycled paper and the ink and adhesive are both “green” products. We use corks that are from FSC certified forests. We’re also members of corkreharvest.org. Corkreharvest is a program for recycling used natural wine corks. The collected corks are shipped to Western Pulp and Paper in Eugene, OR where they are ground and used in making “pulp” shippers for wine bottles. The wine shippers we use—Vintner’s Choice are made from 100% recycled paper(minimum 99% post-consumer). . We also take our wine bottles back, so we can reuse them and thereby reduce our carbon footprint.