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BDA Enters into Lease Agreement with Biodynamic Farmers

June 1, 2011

New Farmers on the Land
By Rebecca Briggs


This spring, the Biodynamic Association (BDA) entered into a one-year lease agreement with an option to buy on its 35-acre Oregon property with two young farmers, Jonah Bloch and Amber Lippert. The BDA is now working together with Jonah and Amber to find an investor or partner who can help them acquire the property, or who will buy the property and provide them with a long-term lease, with the goal of keeping the land under biodynamic stewardship. (For more information on Jonah and Amber and their vision, click here. To find out more about the property, click here.)

Only two months into their lease, the property is humming with activity. Chickens peck for insects in the backyard. Veggie starts fill several greenhouses, with extras housed temporarily in the house’s east-facing atrium. A tractor plows the pasture, readying it for summer crops. Biodynamic compost cooks in preparation for nourishing the soil. Neat rows of kale, chard, and peas savor the spring rains in the fenced-in garden area between the fruit trees and grape vines. Dahlias establish themselves in a new flower and herb garden. Most importantly, two young farmers bring their vision and enthusiasm to the land, recognizing its potential and opening it to new possibilities.

Jonah, earlier this spring, tending seedlings in the atrium

The BDA, which is currently in the process of moving its headquarters from Oregon to East Troy, Wisconsin, has been seeking a buyer for this property, with hopes of finding someone who will steward the land biodynamically. According to Executive Director Robert Karp, Jonah and Amber were the perfect fit: “They are a shining example of the next generation of biodynamic farmers. Though they lacked the financial resources to buy the property, we were so impressed with their vision, maturity, and business plan that we decided to enter into a lease agreement and see if we could help them bring this dream into reality. We knew it was the right thing to do, and we are confident the right partner will now come toward us.”

Amber, accompanied by Mr. Dog, stirs the biodynamic preparations

Both Jonah and Amber have solid farm experience, and last year felt confident enough to start their own community supported agriculture (CSA) venture on leased land south of Eugene, Oregon. Though they were successful and had cultivated happy CSA members, they knew they had not yet found their long-term home, a property that made them “feel a tingle in their stomachs,” as Jonah puts it. Until, that is, they visited the BDA property. “When we first entered the presence of this property, there was obviously an awe moment,” Jonah says. “The beauty of the landscape, with pasture rolling into a deep seasonal waterway, reaching up onto a knoll, then slightly sloping to the south. The feeling grew more potent as we walked the land, noticing all the different nooks. And now as we start to intermingle our energies with the farm, the presence and story of this land is responding and seems to be breathing and alive.”

Jonah transplants greens into the fenced garden area

Amber explains their passion for farming and for biodynamics:

We farm because we love the work and could not imagine a better way to spend our days. We work very hard and very long hours, but find the thinking, doing, organizing, creativity, and collaboration that comes with farming engaging and the zest of life. We both came into farming with a feeling that we needed to help heal the land and do our part to find innovative sustainable ways to continue producing food and stewarding ecosystems. Nutrition is also very important to us; we see that a lot of social problems and long-term health problems are directly related to poor access to good food and a disconnection between consumers and their food source. We are stewards of the land. Wherever we have lived we have left an orchard and perennial beds productive with food and flowers and enjoy visiting those locations and seeing how our creations are continuing to be productive.

And so they have started to put this vision in place on the BDA’s property. This year they will farm about two acres of vegetables, flowers, and fruits, in addition to raising 50 laying hens. Even aside from production, they have already put tremendous effort into revitalizing the land — clearing out brush, pruning trees to bring them back to health, repairing and cleaning up fences and other infrastructure.

Happy hens

Their long-term dream is to create “a productive community farm that produces nutritious foods and opportunities for education to the nearby K-12 schools and universities.” (Both the University of Oregon and Oregon State University are within easy day trips of the farm.) They look forward to adding more perennial crops (like berries and asparagus) and perhaps bringing in small livestock, establishing a raw milk dairy, or creating ponds for aquaculture. The possibilities seem wide open.

To find out more about Jonah and Amber’s long-term vision for the property, investment/partnership opportunities, and their farming background, please check out this page on our website. And if you’re interested in their CSA program, visit farmculture.blogspot.com.

This is the first in a series of posts as we follow Jonah and Amber’s progress throughout the year. Stay tuned for updates and to see the farm as it grows!

Friends help build the foundation for the second greenhouse


Friends happy to help


Jonah in the "hobbit" seed house


Egg harvest


Jonah works the biodynamic compost


Farm worker Royce prunes and revitalizes the trees


Jonah and Amber set up portable fencing to allow the chickens to enjoy new ground


Land alive with possibilities

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Maria permalink
    June 1, 2011 2:44 pm

    Hi Jonah and Amber,
    I was just coming on-line to search for bio-dynamic farming opportunities when I see this posting from BDA. I am inspired by your enthusiasm and vision. I would love to communicate with you via email if you are open to it. You have my email! Drop me a line, and I will explore with you some ideas I have. To a bountiful year! Maria

  2. Ryan Keisling permalink
    June 11, 2011 7:37 pm

    This is awesome!

    As others of us wallow in the disillusionment of GMO’s and overgrazing, it is wonderful to see that the property will continue under competent biodynamic management. The preparations are needed more than ever; everywhere. I wish you guys all of the luck in the world.

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