Feb 2013


Seeds collected in the fall have dried out in the round barn.


These green bean seeds are very satisfying to clean… foot stomping to release the beans from their crunchy shells.


Kentucky Wonders and…




Overwintering Cabbages are still going strong…

fava seedlings

…and our Fava Bean cover crops, planted in two experiment beds (one tilled conventionally and one not tilled) have sprouted.


Amy is doing a Micro-dairy course run by Candace Jagel at WSU Extension.


A very comprehensive course that included a trip to Heritage Farm, to see their dairy set up and to meet their new milking cow, Rose. We dream of adding a few milking goats to the family in the future.


In the meantime we are getting to know these gorgeous girls at Talking Horse Farm. They are a rare meat breed and are living under manager Rob Waldron’s care for this season.

October 2012

As the fall begins its time to cover the bare soil with cover crops. Soil is not soil without plants growing in it. Mostly we are using a mix of clovers and vetches with rye in the paths between the beds.

fava beans

In two of our experiment beds however, we are sowing fava beans.

heather cauli

The garden is yielding plenty of crops, like these stunning cauliflowers picked up by our 2011 intern Heather. She’s working at Lacrover a local farm who are collaborating with Sweet Earth Farm on a westside CSA.


The fragrant Basil (one of the only plants in the green house) is at its peak.


Teaming up perfectly with these heirloom tomatoes to make a mediterranean sauce fit for the first clay-oven fired pizza…

pizza oven


September 2012

blackberry drawing

Its blackberry time…


… and time for our annual trip to the beach to gather seaweed from the shore for making a compost tea.

seaweed 1

Seaweeds are rich in nutrients that plants (and people) benefit from hugely.

seaweed sunset

Luckily, we are surrounded by the Puget Sound and her abundant offerings.


Abundant offerings in the garden too… its been a great year for our crops.

tomatoes in field

The long summer has been wonderful for the tomatoes.

tomato on vine

Beaverlodge Slicers, Black Prince, Brandywines, Persimmons.


Beans and leeks.

garden view3

Fall Brassicas.

garden view

Over wintering carrots and lemon balm.

farmers market

A bountiful harvest at San Juan Island Farmers Market.


market 3

Other buyers this season include San Juan Island Food Coop, Duck Soup Inn, Pablitos, Deb Nolan Catering, The Coho and Cafe Demeter. Thank you for your support!

kirsten and amy

Another huge thank you goes to our intern Kirsten, who leaves us at the end of September.

kirsten blackberries

She worked hard all season on scything, bed prep, planting, weeding and harvesting both cultivated and wild seasonal treasures…


May your future be fruitful and bright!

Recycled Paper-Making

Waste is a sin against nature, a curse of modern life…reusing, mending and recycling must be regarded as great sattvic virtues. Satish Kumar, Spritual Compass


Amy ran a paper-making workshop for the community as part of the Family Art Day organised by Islands Museum of Art. A technique she learned many years ago.

deckle 1

Old, used pieces of paper are torn and blended in a food blender. The pulp is mixed with water in a bowl then a deckle (mould) is used to collect a thin layer.


The top part of the deckle is taken off…


…and the part with the mesh is flipped onto a cloth and then gently pressed with a sponge to make the pulp stick and come away from the mesh.


Voila! Now leave in the sun to dry and the paper will easily peel off the cloth.


You can add threads, petals and even seeds to create beautiful effects.


This could be a lovely way to distribute seeds saved from the garden.

Cob Oven Building

Gary has built several earth ovens in India – but isn’t it time we had one at home? Having Sam here, a wwoofer who is keen to learn more about cob building, was a good excuse to get started.

oven 1

1. A sturdy foundation was created using bricks and a portland cement/sand mix. The wire was used to form it up.

oven 2

2. Sand, clay (found on our property) and straw…


… mixed together to form the actual oven.

oven 4

oven 6

3. A sand form is created to make a mold. A wooden block helps shape the front opening.

oven 5

4. The clay/sand/straw mix is then applied thickly around the sand and a chimney hole is made on top.

oven complete

5. When dry and firm, Gary and Sam removed the sand and placed paving slabs on the inside and at the front creating a smooth surface.

oven panther

Panther inspects while we wait for another coat of clay to dry. Can’t wait for that first pizza!

12th August – No-Till Workshop I

Andy Bary presentation

For the SARE funded Organic No-Till workshops, we were joined by soil scientist Andy Barry from WSU Extension Service. He presented research done by the Small Farms Team, on reduced tillage in organic vegetable production. They have worked with a variety of cover crops, special planting aids, roller/crimping and flailing and are comparing reduced till to tilled plots. Not surprisingly, the earthworm population was significantly higher in the no-tilled plots. See more about their experiments here: smallfarms.wsu.edu/soils-compost/research/organicnotill and here eorganic.info/group/4988

Gary - bed prep demonstration - workshop 1 sunday

We then led a tour of the garden looking at our experiment beds. Gary demonstrated tools and techniques for preparing a bed for direct seeding.

looking at soil

Encouraging everybody to have a feel of the soil, to see for themselves the high moisture content and organic matter in a no-till bed that had not been watered all summer.

Larry & Gary in Garden

We discussed healthy soil structure and how to maintain it naturally, without the destructive practice of tilling. A purely man-made action that never occurs in nature.

Larry in Garden

Today, Larry Korn talked a bit more about the “nuts and bolts” of Fukuoka’s farming methods. But he introduced his talk with an anecdote: A soil scientist came to the farm and took samples and found there was a big phosphorous deficiency. Fukuoka responded by saying: but didn’t you see the rice growing in front of you? Wasn’t it one of the healthiest plants you have seen? Fukuoka farmed intuitively with an intimate knowledge of the ‘family’: place, plants and animals.

11th August 2012 – Natural Farming Weekend

I spent many years of my youth foolishly searching for something I ‘should’ have been doing. Instead, I should have entrusted everything to the flowers blooming in the meadow. Even if people do nothing at all, the grasses and the trees and the songbirds will live on…. I have finally learned that, although nature does not reach out to people directly, people can always approach nature and seek salvation that way. Masanobu Fukuoka, Sowing Seeds in the Desert


Our invitation to Larry Korn (editor of The One Straw Revolution) to be a key speaker at our weekend of workshops, coincided perfectly with the launch of his latest work: Fukuoka’s Sowing Seeds in the Desert.


Wwoofers and volunteers worked hard to create a beautiful environment for the workshop, including flower art by Whitney…

dome barn tomatoes

… in the newly cleaned and renovated round barn.


Larry joined our temporary community for meals (prepared by volunteers), bonfire and conversation.

Larry Korn presenting

He emphasized the philosophy of natural farming and shared tales and images of his experiences with Fukouka. When the visionary Japanese farmer told him that his soil yielding a thick crop of barley had not been ploughed for 25 years, Larry thought he had discovered “the holy grail”.


Videos of all the inspirational presentations will be posted later.

Krista Rome presentation 3

Krista Rome lead us beautifully though the various steps of threshing, winnowing and using screens to clean locally grown grains and beans.

Krista Rome presentation - group

Lots of work for many hands and feet! A great communal activity.

Krista Rome presentation 1

Her fantastic manual is available at www.backyardbeansandgrains.com

Errol Speed's tools

Tools of the trade, including Japanese hand sickles, like the ones used on Fukuoka’s farm (we love them!) were demonstrated by the highly skillful Errol Speed.

Errol Speed presentation 1

Passionate about every kind of hand tool. He lead us through the complete process of transforming sod-covered ground into a bed without tilling. From sharpening your scythe to using the broad-fork. Errol’s tools can be purchased at his store on Orcas Island www.smithandspeed.com

Ana Manilof presentation 1

Seed Saving and honoring the life cycle of a plant is a crucial aspect of working with nature. Ana Manilof from Lopez Island has been selling seeds through her company Green Heart Gardens for a number of years. She quoted from one of our favorite books: Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth:

kale seeds in hand

The seeds that gardeners hold in their hands at planting time are living links in an unbroken chain reaching back into antiquity… Whenever gardeners begin to save their own seeds, they also become part of an ancient tradition.

Ryan Drum presentation 1

Ryan Drum from Waldron Island, talked about another ancient tradition: foraging and healing with plants.

Ryan Drum presentation 2

He managed to find an incredible amount of beneficial wild plants to discuss, just sitting in one spot in the garden. This is because we do not excessively eliminate weeds as part of our natural farming processes. These wild plants help keep the soil and crops healthy. Including Shepherds Purse, that Ryan told us can be used to stop heavy bleeding. What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. Ralph Waldo Emerson

RP presentation

We finished the weekend with a presentation from RP, who has been volunteering at the farm. A former Phd student in applied chemistry who wanted to warn us of the dangers of the newly developing nano-technology field.

workshop lunch

Lots of information and new ideas to digest during all the delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners. On the menu: oatmeal and muffins, local poached salmon, BBQ beef from Talking Horse Farm, fresh garden salad, grilled zucchini and leek, couscous and chick pea taboule, borscht, home made bread and ratatouille with brown rice. Dining was accompanied by the lovely gypsy band OPA. We were all too busy eating, conversing and dancing to take any pictures. Thank you to everyone who contributed their head, heart and hands to this very special event.

July 2012

Man is by nature gregarious. When many live as one, each one benefits by the combined strength of many. Rabindranath Tagore

people working in garden

A temporary community has formed here at Good Earth… Wwoofers from all walks of life and people volunteering in exchange for attending our up-coming workshop, have gathered to help at one of the busiest times… planting, bed prep, harvesting, weeding, helping out with the workshop and keeping us company…!


A big thank you to: Chris, Kirsten, Whitney, Callie, Lee, Morgan, Sam, RP, Brad, Kesley, Matt, Danielle, Brandon and Rachel for sharing all your varied talents and your willingness to develop new ones…

dill harvest 5

Co-operation between humans and respect for nature are co-dependent factors.

June 2012

salad mix bed

This year’s crop for our two year SARE funded experiment is mixed salad greens and lettuce. We are growing, arugula, kale, mizuna, giant red mustard, tatsoi, sorrel and persian cress in eight foot beds. Comparing two no-till beds with two tilled beds… more about this experiment to be published soon…

May 2012


Work in the garden in exchange for veggies… thank you David! Yes, those arugula flowers are fragrant and spicy…


Intern Kirsten and mentor Gary, get to grips with hand tools and no-till bed prep…


Prize Pac Choi is a definitely a winner… found these wonder open-pollinated seeds from Siskiyou Seeds at the special Organic Seed Alliance Seed Saving Conference. A great place to meet like-minded people and learn about all things seedy… from the practical to the political.