“Growing Dharma” is a way of farming, gardening, permaculture and sustainability which attunes to principles of right action for people, plants and all nature.
Here on the 50-acre Ananda Laurelwood campus, we’ve explored a few different farming methods over the last three growing seasons since we purchased the property in May 2011. As a step toward incorporating other methods and philosophies into our own spiritual path, we have adopted the title “Growing Dharma” as a way to express that the heart of what we find to be important in all ways of farming is the rightness of the action. Does it connect us with a broader understanding of the natural world? Does it deepen our awareness of subtler realities? These are the questions we ask in Growing Dharma.
Everything we do, we try to do well. In striving for excellence our minds and our hearts are uplifted and we exercise our willpower to reach beyond our own smallness. With Fukuoka’s philosophy of Natural Farming, we have found kindred thoughts of expansion into other realities: those of the plants, the minerals and the flow of water. The principles of Permaculture help to lessen the ego’s hold on how things ought to look in favor of asking what is in the plants’ and animals’ best interest. We welcome an exploration of biodynamics and other methods that respect all people’s natural aspiration toward higher ways of living and being on this earth.
We invite you to come play with us, in a spirit of adventure, of seeking deeper meaning in the relationships to each other and to the land.
As Fukuoka writes: “Just sow seeds and care tenderly for the plants and soil. You have joy. The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
St. Francis Garden
Our main vegetable garden, the St. Francis, was started three years ago on an abandoned field that likely grew vegetables for the occupants before us. It is fairly flat and is irrigated with spring water piped down from the holding tank on the hillside above. We have experimented with both tilling and sheet mulching the grass for initial bed preparation. Now that the garden is in full swing, we are relying on sheet mulching and the low-impact “tilling” of chicken’s feet. Since November 2013, our flock of close to twenty chickens have been rotating on portions of the garden, scratching up the surface, cleaning up bugs and weeds, and keeping the grass short.
This will be the first year that the fenced in portion – comprising about a quarter of an acre – is in full production. We anticipate increasing its size this fall with the tillage of another quarter acre and more fencing to keep out the deer. Partnering with us this year is Josh Volk of Sacred Organics who will be growing complimentary vegetables adjacent to the St. Francis Garden. Josh is a neighbor and experienced farmer, and we are pleased to walk with him on this adventure. Both gardens will be growing food for Grace, as our kitchen is named. May the food of the soil nourish you in body, mind and soul.
Our Spiritual Agriculture Team
Beth Fox grew up in a small farming community outside of Montreal, Canada, where her family had a large organic vegetable garden. After graduating from University of Oregon’s architecture program, she received a permaculture design certificate in 2005 and started a small landscaping business. Beth has been an active participant at Ananda Laurelwood since 2012 and currently facilitates interactions with the various gardens.
Jacob Macleod grew up in Illinois, in a family of biologists, and studied biology briefly at the University of Missouri. He is a member of the Cities of Light Program and expresses his love for the natural world in his involvement with landscaping, natural farming, and permaculture projects here at Ananda Laurelwood. He completed a permaculture design course in 2011 and since then has been leading our Practicing Permaculture Group which meets most Saturdays from 2-5pm. Jacob can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharon Kelly grew up in California and studied botany at the University of Maine. She has worked professionally as an arborist, estate gardener and director of programs and projects for multiple urban forestry organizations. Sharon is a current member of the leadership in the Cities of Light Program at Laurelwood and co-leads our Practicing Permaculture Group which meets most Saturdays from 2-5pm. Sharon can be reached by email at email@example.com.