Tour of Willow Springs Organic Farm, Pend D'Oreille, BC

At the end of July I had the wonderful opportunity to visit an-off the-grid farm tucked into the mountains south of Salmo, BC.  It was a potluck organized by Young Agrarians, so there were lots of good people from the Kootenays getting together to talk and share.  For a great blog on our day go see Laura's post at YA site.  I think the pictures speak for themselves and I'll just point out the uber geeky permaculture systems that Willy and Leslie have nailed at Willow Springs Organic Farm.

I mention heat alot in this blog and there are many examples of how heating a greenhouse or a house are supported by multiple elements so to provide resiliency/redundancy/efficacy to this very important function.  How we heat ourselves, our houses and grow without using fossil fuels will be an increasingly important topic and design aspect as we transition into the future.

On top of this shed is a little tank and about 100 ft of pipe which provides hot water warmed by the sun for showers, and watering the cukes, tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse in the summer.

A huge steel cylinder that is supported on two planks at the end of the greenhouse.  Willy builds compost piles in the cylinder in the late winter/early spring to get things warm in the greenhouse.  He has a big board that he uses as a lever to roll it and mix the compost up.
Some beautifully trained cukes and peppers. The drip irrigation line is attached to the tops of the hoops so that any sun energy can heat up the water for the plants.  Most crops prefer to be watered with warm water instead of ice cold hose water because it doesn't cool down the soil- especially in the spring and fall months.   He also does the traditional 'hot bed' method where he digs in manure in the beginning of the season to heat up the beds.

Water tank for storing the warm water for the plants in the greenhouse.  Covered in a black tarp to maximize heat gain.

Diversity of crops growing together.
Home made carrot row spacer from some pipe and old weights.
Potluck crew and Will and Leslie's cabin.  Notice the tall pole in front of their door has a solar
panel on top.  This is in Zone 1 so that every time Willy of Leslie walks by they can adjust it
towards the sun. 
This might not look like much, but this is a shoot from the outside wood cutting pile directly into the house wood bin.
No more carrying wood!  Just chop and let gravity carry it into the house for you.
South facing greenhouse attached to the house.  In the summer it is like a giant dehydrator. In the winter/early spring they start plants in here and...
...extra hot water from the wood stove that is heating the cabin goes into these barrels underneath the tables to provide some extra heat to keep away the night time chill.
Wood stoves and cooking ranges with a crazy contraption in the back to store extra hot water from the stove.  Note the reflector to keep the heat in the cabin.  Wood box is right beside the stove, with a pulley cord to lift the hatch and let the cut wood through the door.
The structure under the willow tree holds a water wheel to harness the potential energy from the water held in this pond.
ok- so this just looks like a big hole, but it's the start of a pit greenhouse, which are built because the earth has a pretty stable temperature which is great in the winter, because it doesn't freeze and in the summer, because it doesn't get super hot.  You have to site it correctly, and dig deep enough (or build enough earthen thermal mass.  Check out these resources for more info 1, 2, 3.
Ferrari- yes it's a walk-behind tractor!

"When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized.  The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings."

-Masanobu Fukuoka, The One Straw Revolution


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