Here is a summary of the farm this year, and a request for money to help us continue manifesting the dream.
THE 2014 SUMMARY:
- Found and bought the land, moved in, met neighbors. Planted a garden, foraged, planted a few trees and shrubs, explored the woods and fields, learned local plants and animals. Pickled, froze, and otherwise put up a lot of food. Collected rain water from roof for drinking – excellent results. Experimented with goats and fences.
- Hired an experienced permaculture designer who designed a perennial woody polyculture farm. Consulted with other specialists about water management, ponds, erosion, and outdoor space. Hired an architect specializing in passive house and alternative energy design. Figured out how to change the existing house (former barn) to hold 6 people and function off-grid. Chose a provider for photovoltaic panels.
- Hosted volunteers and guests, plus some paid workers, and two longer visitors, one of whom will move here in 2015. Did a lot of erosion prevention.
- Bought two chain saws and cut a lot of firewood. Bought a wood cook stove. Had a masonry heater built. Super-insulated one level of the house.
- Went to farm trainings, conferences, field days, and such for a very intense learning curve. Talked with lots of government people and farming organizations. Started relationships in farming community.
- Had a retreat every month since July; created a zendo in former bedroom; identified future zendo location; identified outdoor spaces for future ceremony and retreat. Started Mountains and Waters Zen Community.
- Set up council of advisers, represented the farm to others, created brochure and blog, got a nonprofit fiscal agent, kept track of spending.
In process now:
- install wood cook stove, install chimney for cook stove and masonry heater. Install wood stove in shop (formerly heated by propane)
- Find farm manager, more residents, apprentices.
- Start tracking all that volunteer time.
- Convert the house to a passive solar home for six people (some spaces are open).
- Start serious farming, and teaching others. Install orchard, berries, and other plantings. Harvest maple syrup, nettles, mushrooms, and begin marketing. Conservation and land care as able.
- Offer spiritual practice opportunities, and communicate them effectively. Work with local Zen groups.
- Finish organizational structure and set up Board. Apply for our own nonprofit status. Raise money for these projects. Clarify future projects such as greenhouse building, food storage, water collection.
WHY YOU MIGHT WANT TO HELP
If we were only committed to sustainable living, that would be nice but maybe just personal. If we were only about practicing Zen, maybe that would be of interest to people who want to join us or visit us. If we were just farming, there are sources of help for new farmers. But it’s more.
Our whole existence – including farming and sustainable living, getting off fossil fuels, spiritual practice – is about the spiritual and cultural change needed by this society. We all are in need of reconnection with each other and with the other beings on the planet – evidence is in climate change, pollution, and the increasing violence everywhere. The business of Vairochana Farm is to foster that reconnection, including within ourselves and far beyond.
Up until now, I’ve personally funded the farm from my retirement savings, because this matters deeply to me. Now those funds are low. More importantly, the mission of the farm is all about community and cannot succeed without commitment from that community. If you are serious about driving spiritual and cultural change, I need you now. There are several easy options.
HOW TO DONATE
Free: Vairochana Farm has joined iGive.com. So if you sign up for iGive.com, the farm can be your charity. When you shop online, a percentage of what you spend is diverted to the farm at no cost to you. You can set it up to be automatic. If you want to use iGive for your own project instead, you can say VF referred you and we will both benefit. (It would only take 800 new projects to get us the $20,000. Or $5 million worth of plane tickets. But every dollar received is one we didn’t have before, and it’s free.)
Tax-deductible: Vairochana Farm is now a project of Minnesota Alliance for Sustainability, a wonderful umbrella group that sponsors all kinds of sustainable activities. You can make a tax-deductible contribution here.
Old fashioned check: You can still mail a check to Vairochana Farm, 16922 Cabot Ave, Faribault MN 55021, as some people have done. Mailing a check will not get you a tax deduction, but 100% of the money will go straight into our checking account. We also have a Paypal account (VairochanaFarm@riseup.net).
If we raise $20,000 by the end of January 11 (that’s $1000/day), our architect/builder can proceed with renovations, lifting part of the roof for additional bedrooms and solar gain. This allows reasonable space for longer-term visitors and/or two more residents, which helps with living expenses, work, and creative energy. After that, donations go to starting the farm, plus the renovations that give us full living space, plus getting off fossil fuels, and eventually reaching out to sponsor others.
It’s a big vision, way bigger than one farm or even one Zen community. Imagine a world in which friendship and family are our main security, most people love their work, hunger and homelessness are a distant memory, people trust their governments and don’t worry about terrorism, nobody has to justify war or violence, the weather is reliable again… Not saying we can deliver that. But we’re going that direction and you’re invited to come along. In any way you can – money, time, good thoughts…
Thank you to the people who have already given, especially without being asked!