Vairochana Farm: Zen, permaculture, activism

1 Apr

I’m looking for people of good will and strong energy to help me build Vairochana Farm, a small permaculture farm with flavors of Zen, activism, and a strong sense of community, near Northfield, MN.

You can come for a while, live and work here, or we can be finding out whether you will join the long-term community.

I’ve backed out of the original plan and am looking for beautiful land on a river. This might involve building from scratch.

Farm skill, garden skills, permaculture design, and construction skills are particularly welcome. But there’s plenty of simple labor too.

Vairochana Farm

The intention is to live and farm in a way that supports the earth’s regeneration, grows food, and moves against climate change. The house will be made energy-independent; we will store rainwater for drinking and design a water-saving landscape. Our community will eventually include gardens, orchard, forest, wild plants, and animals.

This will be a residential community, with both long-term and short-term members, sharing social, spiritual and work life with friends from the broader community. We will find our own way of being together, using wisdom from many past groups. Children will be welcome.

We intend a strong and friendly presence in our local area, including hosting events from barn dances to community meetings, and participating as responsible citizens in building a strong and sustainable region.

Spiritual life:
I hope we will develop a shared spiritual life on some level. As a Zen priest, I practice daily sitting meditation and will be offering occasional retreats, workshops, and classes. Living here does not obligate you to participate, but you need to feel comfortable around it, particularly if you become a long-term resident. People who think spirituality is silly probably would not be happy here.

Human existence, and the continued existence of the planet as we know it, are endangered. It may already be too late. Thus the issue of life and death informs every action in a way never known in human history. Finding an appropriate response to this situation is part of the intention here. Exactly what that means will be discovered as we go forward.

We’ll be on land that should belong to the Dakota people. I’m looking into ways to address that – which at this point just means making some contacts.

The house will be smoke-free and scent-free, because of my allergies. It might be workable for a person with chemical sensitivities – check it out.
Food – ? No longer vegetarian, I eat mostly organic, whole, fresh foods. I love cooking and eating together.
Alcohol in moderation please, and no illegal drugs.
I am a single woman, 64, with children and grandchildren in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. I expect them to visit, and would expect you might also have visitors. Other things about me – I am a psychotherapist (retired) and an alternative healer (still play with it), spent the last 12 years of my life in Zen training and received dharma transmission from Shohaku Okumura. I have been gardening since the permaculture design course in 2006, and am in recovery from Western civilization.

This “to-do” list of farm projects was for a particular farm, but is still informative:
Rehabilitate the barn, animals below, possibly workshop space above, gathering water from the roof.
Chickens, goats, sheep, possibly cows that provide eggs and milk (and cheese etc) and mow the lawn, dig or weed the gardens, etc. As soon as we have a stable enough community to care for them.
Edible forest: expand and support the existing orchard, plant forest guilds near the road, learn to harvest the gifts of existing trees (oak, maple).
Build or modify the house, with insulation, enough bedrooms, large solar greenhouse, water collection, solar panels, partial green roof, and water collection. House is to be energy-producing.
Build at least 5-10,000 gallons of potable water collection we will not rely on well water.
Large root cellar.
Recycle/compost all wastes.
Sauna or steam room for luxurious bathing.
Pond, hopefully swimmable but unlikely, or river or creek.
Zendo and other public spaces.
Any existing outbuildings are salvaged, insulated and made functional.


5 Responses to “Vairochana Farm: Zen, permaculture, activism”

  1. Nicholas May 9, 2013 at 1:13 am #

    Hi there, I got wind of your farm from an email from Compassionate Earth Walk. I have a farm and would like to talk to you about farming. Also, I might be able to help look at land, and do a small amount of work to help you set up. But I don’t see any way to contact you other than the comments. -Nicholas


  2. jj4donna March 23, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    Leaving a message to make sure I can connect. My husband and I are quite interested in the farm.


  3. Myo-O June 14, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    Hullo Shodo,
    This is amazing and wonderful. Such energy emanates from your blog. I’ve signed on the follow.


  4. Paul Kelly October 17, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    Hi Shodo, Just communicated with you via Wheedu. Now I can’t log back in. Anyway, sounds like you’re super busy. If you think you have time in January or something opens up sooner, let me know. Would love to interview you which would essentially be a video bio, I don’t have tons of viewers on this channel but it would be something you could refer folks to to hear your story. Also, I’d just love to hear it. While we do it we could explain and define various aspects of Zen. To get an idea of how I interview, check out my interview with Roy Dopson. The youtube channel is Advaita, Bhakti & Seva (Non duality, Devotion & Service) All the best in your efforts. Look forward to connecting again if you can fit it in.


    • shodospring October 17, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

      HI Paul,
      I wonder why you couldn’t get back in. Anyway, yes I’m doing farm work and erosion control and preparing for renovations. Then two talks and some book editing by mid November.
      Why not check with me again in late November? I won’t forget, but I might forget how to find you.
      And my email is shodo.spring at, no need to go through all these complex means.


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