Holistic Management Herd Hike

Ben Coleman—Mountain Run Farm

Ben will lead his annual herd hike where we will walk through the farm to the cows while he edifies us in the subtle art of managing animals holistically to heal the land, water cycle, and farm ecosystems—how a well managed herd can be a force of immense good.

After 10 years of detrimental farming practices and by financial force, a radical move toward biological, Holistic management has resurrected the ranch, bringing new health to man, land and animals, plus space for the next generation. The exciting part is, the cure is FREE! The cure is Nature! Our ultra-low input mentality had us sell all forage equipment, boycott the salesman, park the tractors, and DRIVE the animals. After 25 years of bold, experimental changes, Mountain Run Farm now serves the local community by hosting on-farm meat and produce sales and events ranging from Makers Markets and music festivals to guided bird walks and school tours. The ever-increasing diversity of plants and wildlife brings FREE opportunity to future generations to carve out a living on the land. We eat pretty well, too!

From Working for the Man to Working with the Land

Restoration Acres Farm

Today, 6 years after starting their farming adventure, Matt and Rachel Palma raise 2,700 broilers, 700 layers, 100 turkeys, and 75 hogs annually (and a small but growing herd of sheep). They have leased land on 4 different properties and have moved their entire operation 3 times!

They look forward to sharing a little bit about their journey from working dead-end jobs to following their dreams, including how they got started (highlighting inexpensive yet practical mobile equipment and infrastructure), how they gained access to land, and how together they’ve pushed through seemingly impossible trials to make it all happen

Their hope is to leave you feeling empowered and able to step out and accomplish your own dreams!

Matt and Rachel Palma started farming in 2013. Raised in the suburbs, with no background in farming on either side, they started farming from the ground and have worked their way up with everything—knowledge, experience, equipment, infrastructure—and absolutely no land to farm on. They own and operate Restoration Acres Farm in Sedalia, VA where they raise pastured poultry for eggs and meat, forest fed pork, and grass-only lamb.

Introduction to Basic Seed Saving

Edmund Frost

How is growing crops for seed different from growing them for food? What are good ways to do both in your garden or on your farm? How do you keep things from crossing? What are some basic techniques of wet and dry seed processing? This workshop is an introduction to basic seed saving, and will give participants the tools they need to get started! We’ll also talk about the benefits of saving seed, from increasing resiliency to saving money to improving the adaptation of varieties for your particular conditions.

Edmund Frost managed the seed growing business at Twin Oaks Community (Louisa, VA) from 2008-2015. After a year of farming west of the Blue Ridge at Sycamore Farm (2016), Edmund is back in Louisa. He is part of a new intentional community project called Mimosa Community, and is again growing seeds in collaboration with Twin Oaks.Edmund does breeding and variety trial research work with a variety of vegetable crops, especially focused on cucurbits. He has worked as an anti-GMO activist and is committed to building functional alternatives to corporate control of our food, farms and seeds.

All Levels Flow Yoga

Jessica Camilli

This is a well rounded practice, balancing strength building, flexibility, breath and meditation. The focus of this practice will be moving in unison with the breath and connecting to the freedom of the present moment. Suitable for all experience levels.

Jessica Camilli is an artist from Washington DC who has been teaching yoga for seven years in studios, gyms, parks and at festivals. Her goal as an instructor is to make every practice medicinal and personal to whoever is in the room. She believes yoga can be molded and morphed to fit any individual’s needs. “I like for every one of my classes to be fluid. From the beginning meditation to the sealing namaste we follow each inhale and exhale, transitioning with intention and savoring each posture.”

Outdoor Yoga Flow and Meditation

Erich Sneller

Come join in the scenic Mountain Run Farm for a wonderful outdoor yoga class.  In this workshop, we will explore strong, healthy movements for any age and body.  Coupled with an accessible mediation practice, this workshop will leave you limber and lively for the rest of the weekend.

From an early age, Erich’s mother guided him to explore. Later in life, upon beginning college in Iowa and being encouraged by his brother, Erich began practicing yoga. Since then, Erich’s practice has evolved and weaved into his whole life.  Through studying in and completing the 200-hour training at The Center School of Yoga in Harrisonburg, his teaching has taken on new explorations and deeper meaning.  When not teaching at The Center, Erich educates students in Chemistry and Earth Science at Harrisonburg High School. He enjoys reading, running, farming, and hanging out with his two cats, Michi and Penny. 

Fascinating Fungus: An Intro to The Unseen World of Mycology

Adam Fisher

Immerse yourself in the miracles of mushrooms. Adam will share the ecology, functions, benefits, and uses of mushrooms—from how critical they are in ecological health to the unfolding depth of importance to human health. Learn rudimentary identification characteristics of wild mushrooms and uncover the many ways that mushrooms can be cultivated at home using easy, low-tech methods to transform woody organic matter into high value food and medicine. Weather-depending, there may be a mushroom walk with many specimen to observe. 

Adam is one of three VDACS approved wild mushroom harvesters and has been cultivating and foraging mushrooms for over 10 years. Join him to learn about proper mushroom I.D. and the many culinary and medicinal virtues of mushrooms. Weather dependent, hopefully there will be plenty of mushrooms to see.

Wild Harvested Freeform Basket Weaving

Laney Sullivan (of Lobo Marino)

During this workshop we will harvest invasive vines and learn how to mold them into a free form baskets using basic beginner basket weaving techniques.  Open to all ages and skill levels.

Vegetable Fermentation

Emilie Tweardy

Join Emilie Tweardy for a hands-on demo and explanation of practical vegetable fermentation for every kitchen.  Learn how to make reliable fermented krauts and pickles using a few simple guidelines. Empower yourself to feel confident and competent with this simple, old world skill.  Bring a jar or two and take home the fruits of our labor.

Emilie Tweardy is a permaculture enthusiast, first generation farmer, mother to 1 little hobbit, and a creative dabbler. After spending most of her twenties travelling and guiding whitewater rafting trips in central Colorado, she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2012 with a B.S. in Natural Resources Management from Colorado State University. After school she spent a few years interning, volunteering and working on farms from New York to Costa Rica learning about Permaculture, fermentation, animal husbandry and sustainable living. After a 5 month Permaculture internship in 2013, she went on to earn her PDC online under Geoff Lawton.  She then earned a 2nd PDC and completed a Teaching Apprenticeship with the Shenandoah Permaculture Institute.  After the apprenticeship, she was surprised and delighted to find that she felt strongly called to continue teaching with SPI.  Discussions were held, arrangements were made, and she has now been a full partner since 2016. She and her husband Logan own and operate ShireFolk Farm in Fluvanna County, VA where they are creating a merry and biodiverse farmstead.  They focus on producing GMO-free pastured meats and eggs, as well as naturally grown produce, fruit and flowers.

Food Forest Skills - Building Your Living Capital On The Cheap.

Ryan Blosser

Join Ryan Blosser and the SPI team in a fast-paced how-to exploration of building nursery stock for your food forest.  This presentation builds on the “Food Forest Demystified” session and focuses on propagation, division, and grafting as ways to build your forest garden without spending thousands of dollars on plant stock.  Ryan provides accessible, easy to understand techniques for this practice as well as species suggestions and planting stock to take home from the workshop.

Ryan is a writer, Farmer, and former child and family therapist living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  While in his 20’s, searching for something more authentic, he dropped out of the life of a Division I basketball player and along with his partner, Joy, moved to Hawaii where he encountered the natural world through surfing.  This new sense of rhythm and the good fortune to stumble across the writings of Bill Mollison and Dave Holmgren while studying creative writing and cultural studies at the University of Hawaii drew him to farming as a profession.  In 2004 Ryan and Joy moved back to the valley to start a family and homestead. The homestead dream grew into a farm and in 2010 Ryan and Joy named their farm Dancing Star Farm. Ryan is certified in Permaculture Design and is a permaculture educator.  In addition, he holds an MA, and Ed.S. in clinical mental health counseling from James Madison University. He joined the Project GROWS team in 2012 where he served as Executive Director until 2016. In 2016 Ryan transitioned to operating Dancing Star Farm full time.  Never one to stop moving, Ryan is also co-founder of Soul Valley Cider Co.- a hard cider beverage company currently in the start-up phase. In addition Ryan continues working with the community in various professional roles in the mental health field. His training and experience in the human sector provides a great deal of inspiration and influence in how he approaches both instruction and curriculum planning at Shenandoah Permaculture. 

Food Forest Demystified

Shenandoah Permaculture Institute

Join Emilie Tweardy and Ryan Blosser in a journey through the theory and practice of Forest Gardening. Emilie and Ryan distill the volumes of opinions on the concept of Food Forest into an accessible and repeatable approach to any orchard at any scale.  From planting patterns down to species selection, folks will leave this presentation with inspiration and the confidence to go home and start planting.

Propagate Power!: Restoring Relationships for Plants and People

Cornelius Frantz and Jonathan McRay

Join on us on a walk to the Pawpaw Patch! We’ll harvest the custardy fruit to process pulp for eating and seeds for planting. While we walk, harvest, and eat, we’ll talk about the history and cultivation of Pawpaw and imagine their presence in riparian orchards and forest gardens, as well as other abundant gifts that woods and water have to offer. Propagating Pawpaw is pretty easy, so we’ll share ways to grow your own small-scale nursery of food and medicine for land and culture. If there’s time, we might plant some Willow stakes and look around a nearby backyard nursery to learn how they can support livelihood, subsistence, and sharing with others. Plant propagation is a vital practice of food sovereignty and ecological restoration! We’ll connect plant propagation with growing movements that resist violence and waste and emphasize ecological restoration as part of reparations and restorative justice. Come with your stories, knowledge, and questions while we harvest and plant riparian buffers!

Blacks Run Forest Farm is a riparian nursery and folk school rooted in love and living soil in Harrisonburg, Virginia. These roots grow out as agroforestry, watershed health, and restorative justice. They tend the silver waters of Blacks Run and the Shenandoah by farming in the image of the forest and remediating the toxins that pollute our souls, society, and soil, from chemical leaching to white supremacy. In fact, they see all this as an expression of restorative justice, a way of transforming harm and injustice by respecting needs, holding ourselves accountable for healing, and making our relationships and conditions as right as possible so all creatures can be fully themselves!

Cornelius Frantz brings diverse experience to his passion for forest farm ecology. His areas of expertise include tree care and cropping, plant propagation, soil microbiome husbandry, animal integration and husbandry, fertility cycling and the wisdoms of biomimicry. His passions for gastronomic adventure nourishes his excitement for preserving and sharing the fruiting arboreal gifts and traditions. Cornelius is an advocate of returning fire to the forest and prairie lifecycles and is a Certified Prescribed Burn Manager in Virginia. Cornelius’ emergence from a dutch settlement in the US informs his appreciation for the way that we are cultured by our context, and the need to bring intention to these habits to nurture what is good and repattern what is destructive.

Jonathan McRay grew up in a small mountain town in East Tennessee. He has deep affection for Central Appalachia, its dark-green hills and forests, and its hillbillies. He played in the woods a lot, stirred by stories of Ents. Jonathan worked in Israel/Palestine (in journalism, nonviolent direct action in villages protecting ancestral orchards, and with a restorative center for folks with developmental disabilities) and Mozambique (on an indigenous-led farm and resource center), where he fully realized that he needed to farm. These places also led him to return home and take responsibility for his life and history. He’s worked on diversified farms, wrote an introduction to watershed restoration for an action research initiative in a rural farming community, and was a founding member of a sustainable living center for education and supportive housing. Along with farming, he teaches classes on cultural ecology and conflict transformation and facilitates processes for restorative justice, understanding power and resisting oppression, group decision-making, empathy and emotional health, organizing and strategic planning, and ceremony. Jonathan has an MA in Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice and is a member of the Speakers Collective of Soul Fire Farm, where he’s co-facilitated Uprooting Racism in the Food System trainings. He likes writing, reading out loud, drinking Hickory milk, and well-placed puns and humanure jokes. He’s also learning to give up erosive perfectionism in favor of joyful growth.

Learn to Scythe

Mark Angelini

Scythes are ancient, powerful, and simple tools, used the world over for mowing hayfields, meadows, yards, and more. There’s an ever-growing resurgence of using scythes in the modern world as a way to reduce fossil fuel reliance, indulge in simple pleasures, and as a very practical and efficient tool for managing all kinds of vegetation to simply mow, make hay, create mulch, and manage weeds. Mark will teach a small group the art of mowing with a scythe. This will be a hands-on class covering the basics of owning and using a scythe, instruction in appropriate form and technique, with plenty of time to get lost in the joy of mowing with this simple tool. Learn to enjoy mowing as a meditative exercise!

Mark is an orchardist, homesteader, and craftsman. He and his wife Allison occupy the Northwest corner of Mountain Run Farm where they run Mountain Run Permaculture—at once a farm within the farm, producing cider apples and medicinal herbs, a homestead of gardens and food forests, hedges, and more, and a base from which they run a consulting and design business helping others practice land regeneration. His passion is working with his hands, the land, and the craft that brings it all into harmony.

Wild Foods: Fall Foods Fallen and Found

Mark Angelini

Somewhat of an annual Mountain Run Jam tradition, we’ll explore the vast bounty of wild foods and medicinal herbs—nuts, berries, roots, leaves, teas, and more. Learn how to tune-in and identify useful plants and how to harvest, process, and enjoy them.

Mark is an orchardist, homesteader, and craftsman. He and his wife Allison occupy the Northwest corner of Mountain Run Farm where they run Mountain Run Permaculture—at once a farm within the farm, producing cider apples and medicinal herbs, a homestead of gardens and food forests, hedges, and more, and a base from which they run a consulting and design business helping others practice land regeneration. His passion is working with his hands, the land, and the craft that brings it all into harmony.

More workshop announcements to come...