History and Progress
The Past: 2010 through 2015
Meadow Farm founder, Joanna Becker, purchased this 28 acre property in 2010 with the intention to create an affordable farm lifestyle and community that could support people to work in self-sustaining ways while engaged in low-income producing activities such as vegetable, grain, herb and fruit cultivation and volunteer activities.
In 2013 The Meadow Farm Community Land Trust CLT was established with the State of California, By-laws, Articles of Incorporation, Vision statements and a Governing Board of Directors were created and registered. In 2015 Joanna Becker deeded the property directly to the CLT.
Early activities from 2010 through 2015 included a through assessment by a professional forester to determine the health and value of the trees on this recently heavily logged parcel. With this information the CLT has followed their advice and allows for the rejuvenation of the forested areas through selective cutting and deadwood harvesting.
An agricultural easement was created to protect the open meadow acreage from non-farming development. The easement use and structures within the area are limited to those that support farming such as the sheds, barns, greenhouses and fencing.
Soil building has been a large and continuous undertaking as the soil on the farm is sandy and lacks humus needed for water retention and easy assimilation of nutrients. To this end we have composted vegetation, brought in manure, sea vegetation, purchased organic supplements, supported a vermiculture program to create and use worm castings and provided mulching to build and protect soil microorganisms.
Protecting crops from deer has necessitated a tall fence and was expanded a year ago to approximately one acre of area. A “hoop-house” has been restored, doubled in size and vole-proofed beds have been established for new starts, warm weather crops and for extending the growing season for many vegetables.
A dwarf tree orchard for nut and fruit trees, plus herb and flower beds were established near the house.
The health of the meadowlands have included, mowing, for fire mitigations, and suppression of invasive, non-native blackberry, thistle, tansy and Scotch broom plants. We have also hand dug many of these out to decrease their proliferation.
Our past efforts have included development of living areas and infrastructure to support the needs of community members now and in the future. The intention is to use natural building materials and land resources as much as possible for structures. One third of a community house was built using lumber cut and milled on the site. A storage and bedroom cabin were also built. A shipping container was brought on the property to add to dry storage space. A yurt and RV provided storage and living space for resident farmers.
Infrastructure development included septic system and drilling of a well with solar pump and panels with water delivered via lines to the house and garden. Solar panels were added to provide electric power to living areas.
Volunteer opportunities were provided for both novice and skilled farmers to engage in farm activities and community building practices.
Excess food produced in the garden was donated to the local food bank and other organization that serve low-income populations.
The Board of Directors met occasional or at least one time per year until monthly meetings were established in late 2015.
Present Activities: 2016-2017
The board and residents continue the work of land stewardship, community building and continued development of a guiding master plan by establishment of further connection to the wider community via public meetings such as “Envision Meadow Farm” as a bioregion beneficial resource. Also, sharing the ideas of dynamic self-governing AKA Sociocracy. Connection via reciprocated travel and visitation from a now “sister” intentional community in Baja, Mexico supporting and sharing ideas. We held a public showing of a community and sustainable earth practice film , “We The Uncivilised”. The board developed and approved an expanded Vision, Mission and Aims document.
Summertime “Visitor Day” is established for once a month tours, potluck, projects and games. Cultural exchange and farm help came via an international organization that matches travelers with farms. Volunteers from Germany, Holland, Saudi, France, Canada, Spain , USA and France were hosted in the newly formed camping area with water and a large canvas tent provided with use of the communal kitchen facilities. The community hosted the first combined inland and coastal Mendocino Herb Guild meeting.
Local volunteers helped in the garden and the delivery of weekly organic produce, of approximately 60 pounds, to the Ft Bragg Redwood Coast Senior Center’s free and low cost lunch and Meals-On-Wheels programs. The existing hoop-house was strengthened and recovered with plastic sheeting. We are currently in the process of constructing a 48’ by 30’ commercial greenhouse to expand our growing season and the variety of crops we can grow in this cool coastal climate. In 2017 we added a new orchard of 7 fruit trees, now fenced mulched and drip irrigated. 3 new fruit trees were planted inside the garden area. Drip irrigation was installed to service the whole garden for its water and labor conservation benefits. Fire and invasive weed mitigation was undertaken by field mowing, brush and slash removal.
A new nine panel solar array with electronic components and battery bank was purchased and set up for use by the community with the future tie-in to the power grid to contribute to more sustainable electric power here and beyond the farm. A power pole was set up on the east edge of the property and connections to the power grid was established via PG&E.
A new pressure tank was purchased and plans developed for full -time well use by placement of battery bank so to not to be totally dependent on the sun for water needs and to allow for water use during night and cloudy days.
The Board worked with attorneys and CPAs on taxes, 501(c)3 and Ground Lease issues as some of these were left undefined after the sudden death of the founder and former administrator, Joanna Becker on August 6, 2016.
The Board attended a Mendocino County Planning and Building department panel in Ukiah on our potential for developing the farm with allowable building permits. We learned that with a minor use permit we will be allowed 4 houses on this one parcel without going through a costly subdivision process. The unfinished house permit was renewed and the storage yurt permit was given a final inspection and sign-off. After living on the property for 3 plus years the Board bestowed Permanent Resident privileges and approved Land Ground Leases to Jesse Lee Stafford and Sojourna Lee. These two members also attended three weekend trainings and certified as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members to volunteer their services in disaster relief. They attend ongoing CERT meetings.
Membership and subscription to publications was established with the Fellowship For Intentional Communities FIC after attending the 2017 Permaculture Convergence and Community Building workshop held by the FIC and introduction to their work in promoting Intentional Communities.
The board of directors continues to meet monthly and share communications via phone and email throughout the month to develop and implement the plans for the farm.
Future Activities : 2018 and Beyond
Meadow Farm has plans to continue with building of living structures, infrastructure and community building to meet the needs of current residents, future residents, visitors, neighbors, volunteers, the bioregion and as a sustainable practice community for protection of further damage to our planet Earth. We will continue to support volunteerism here by resident’s participation in local non-profits and to provide meaningful work projects to farm volunteers.
We plan to implement the building and or completion of four houses that will incorporate community shared kitchens and meeting spaces for social community building activities. These include food preparation, shared meals, food preservation, classes and meetings. Plans include the addition of detached cabins near to each house for offering private space to residents.
Ongoing research and practices will mitigate our waste products and maximize our renewable energy capacity. We plan to host or sponsor educational opportunities such as workshops/classes in Nonviolent Communication (NVC), solar power, food fermentation and preservation, permaculture practices, bicycle and electric vehicle use and maintenance, disaster preparedness including HAM radio use, alternative building methods, self-governing/decision making process AKA Sociocracy, zero waste, native plant identification and use.
Our plans include the creation of a stronger web and social media presence to expand our connection to a wider population. We will develop a membership structure to share our vision, mission and aims and help to sustain organic and permaculture activities on the farm via donations of funds and volunteer services. We will continue to conduct outreach to allow potential farmers/new residents to know about our growing community through local sources, Fellowship of Intentional Community (FIC) and FarmLink and other resources.
We plan to continue expansion of alternative energy sources to supply the growing farm population and to return green renewable energy to the power grid.
For economic self-sufficiency and sustainable practices our goals are to eventually create niche market for handmade goods, or produce in either fresh or preserved/fermented form. Local resources are being consulted to share in the planning and development of the greenhouse, now under construction, for plant propagation, extended season and crop diversity. A second 30’ by 48’ greenhouse is stored on the land and will be eventually constructed. The garden area is being assessed for future farming expansion for grains, beans and other winter storage crops. The use of an area for medicinal and culinary herb cultivating is planned. A food storage cellar will be built in the near future. In the next year a tractor will be purchased, by a resident, to enhance the road surface and to undertake projects currently hired out to contractor services, such as road work and field mowing.
We will explore the potential for a small, eco-friendly human burial area on the farm for residents and the wider community. We have many acres in treed areas that are not designated for crops or living areas that may provide a place for this purpose. We wish to decrease the reliance of fossil fuel now used for cremation and practices such as embalming and vault-type burial practices.
Our coast is susceptible to earthquakes, tsunamis and wildfires. We are all susceptible to climate change issues and political turmoil. As a rural and low-populated with isolated community areas surrounded by ocean, rivers, and a mountain range, we are aware of the need for self-sufficiency in the face of a disaster. In addition to the CERT training, certification and ongoing education Meadow Farm plans to develop a disaster relief center and communication system between the bridged areas that physically separate us from services, families and resources necessary for survival in the event of a wide-spread disaster.
Meadow Farm Community remains open to new ideas and moves forward with our Vision to become a dynamic, positive force for self-sufficiency, environmental awareness and social change.