green building design
Our ecologically-designed farm campus incorporates solar, wood biomass, composting toilettes, and artful use of local and salvaged natural materials.
Salvaged redwood clapboards from old wine casks, duel-fuel tarm biomass boilers, 15kw solar array, site-harvested stonework, solar thermal vacuum tubes, salvaged serpentine marble greenhouse floor, 5x 750-gallon hot water storage tanks for barn and farmhouse heat, masonry heater and wood cookstove, salvaged sinker-log cypress board and batton, and exterior beam supports, cidery inside barn constructed from douglas fir beams salvaged from warehouses, and FSC-certified spruce siding.
Food system: Rewilding agriculture
We’ve developed a farming pattern that mixes wild edibles with cultivated perennials. Re-wildling agriculture harvests are more like conscious foraging, involving mapping and propagating wild plants and mushrooms indigenous to our region, but doing so alongside deliberately-placed cultivars, using deep phenology, soil-building, and the right equipment for the job. Focussing on nutrient-density, unique flavors, and ease of cultivation, we’re leaning toward the wild side of meeting our food needs more and more all the time. Most regenerative or holistic farmers use livestock to cycle nutrients in their systems, but we are developing a way to harness the transit and feeding patterns of our resident wildlife. You can attend a private workshop to learn about rewilding agriculture and wildlife-assisted permaculture. LEARN
Birds perch on woody perennials in pastures and spread fruit seed through their manure. Coyote, bear, and fox eat berries and spread the seeds in their scat. Deer regularly browse at certain times of the day, deposit manure where they browse, and travel mown pathways, thus making excellent orchard allies. Wildlife not only clean up fruit drops, but can also play a large role in propagating a system over time.
We have transformed our pastures into pollinator habitat, mowing sections every 2-3 years to regenerate flowering plants, letting native plants like elderberry and willow develop. Willows, for example are excellent forage crops for moose, nesting sites for birds, and easily regenerate when cut, such that their branches can be applied as nutritious mulch in orchard systems, making excellent use of wet areas. We practice a mowing regime that favors multi-aged stands of forbs, to meet a myriad of animal, bird, and pollinator needs. We consantly discover new, important plants by NOT mowing, through the power of careful observation. Many of these plants are medicinal, edible, or provide new flavors in a perennial cuisine.
Mice and voles use unmown areas as winter habitat, which attracts raptors, fox, bobcat, and coyote to feed on them. Abandoned mouse and vole holes become nesting sites for ground-dwelling bees and concentrate nutrients which ultimately find their way to surrounding plants. The intricate world of soil, plant, water, animal, insect interactions fascinates us, as the learning never ceases, and the potential for more robust life-filled habitat enriches all. Above, unmown grasses self-mulch the soil as decomposing material builds mycelial soil networks, favoring the emergence of successional perennials and trees, and suppressing new grasses that would othewise compete with emerging food crops.
Woodland edible and medicinal mushrooms often grow on dead and decaying wood. We’ve developed a forest management plan that leaves woody material on the forest floor parallel to contour, to slow and spread water (thus preventing topsoil and nutrient runoff into valley streams), and to act as a substrate for the many medicinal and edible mushrooms that grow in Vermont’s woods. We also innoculate newly-fallen trees and 4"-6" hardwood logs with select mushroom spore.
For more information about our daily SHO Farm activities, visit our Facebook page by clicking the "f" icon at the base of this page.