Archive | February, 2015

Vairochana Farm Apprentice and Volunteer Schedule spring 2015

13 Feb

Hi everybody,

Here is a rough schedule of farm apprentice events for the spring, with extra opportunities interspersed (like this). But feel free to ask about another time. All spring we will have these things going on:

  • land care and later foraging
  • farming: first prep for orchards and gardens; later planting of same; later taking care of them
  • construction: more living spaces in the main house, because we have people coming to visit and/or live here

For all events:

  • Please register (email is best, to get details and arrange carpooling.
  • Wear outdoor clothes suitable for weather.
  • If you’d like to come Friday night, contact Shodo (shodo dot spring at gmail dot com);
  • otherwise we’ll start Saturday morning 9 am, optional overnight, and continue Sunday to 5 or dark.
  • We can work around local church commitments. Optional zazen Sunday 6 am.

sketch of design - 2014

Saturday, March 14: Some of us will carpool to a workshop in Amery, WI: Building a Regenerative Farm. It’s a perfect way to start off a season of learning.

Extra: (March 15: tap trees for sugaring – maple, box elder, walnut)

March 21-22: Work weekend focusing on maple syrup making. Expect to take home a pint of syrup – probably box elder or walnut, that’s what most of our trees are. Wear old clothes, bring rubber boots.)

Extra: (April 11-12: Land care – buckthorn removal and replacement, and erosion restoration at the old land bridge – if weather permits)

April 25-26: Site preparation for planting the orchard in the field by the road. We’ll work together with the professionals to strip till, create micro berms and swales, and bring in materials.

Extra: (May 4-6: Professional team will plant trees in the east field. Volunteer help is more than welcome.)

Extra: (May 7-8: plant berries and flowers in area north of driveway)

May 9-10: planting trees, follow-up, and berries. We’ll follow the plan laid out to complete the orchard. Depending on time, there’s also a buffer strip to plant, and the whole berry section (with flowers for pollination). The berry section will be fenced.

Extra: (late May, TBD: follow-up care of orchards and berries. Likely also some foraging – nettles at least, maybe other wild foods. )

There are also these non-farming activities offered:2014-12-02 Rohatsu

Sesshin – just sitting, 6 am – 9 pm, with 2-3 hours each day of mindful work:

February 21-25, March 23-27 (Monday to Friday), April 20-24 (M-F), May 25-29 (M-F)

and these off-farm activities:

Mountains and Waters Zen group in Northfield, 1st and 3rd Wednesday evenings 6:30-8:30 at NBMC: Feb 18, March 4 & 18, April 1 & 15, May 6 & 20, etc. Come 15 minutes early for instruction; 313 1/2 Division St, easiest to enter from Washington Street.

I am speaking on April 12 at Northfield Unitarian Universalists. 10 am, 113 Linden St S. (Call me if you need accessibility information.) It’s possible to sit at NBMC and slip in a few minutes late to the service.

I hope to see you, here or somewhere.




POSTINGS: Farm manager, apprentice program, and chicken houses for rent

9 Feb

Dear Friends,

I’m putting this information here so it’s all in one place. If you are interested in any of these, please contact me at or 507-384-8541.

WEEKEND FARM APPRENTICE OPPORTUNITY – South of Northfield, one hour from Minneapolis

Spend one weekend per month working and learning. Projects may include planting an orchard, land conservation, maple sugaring, water management, and other tasks involved in establishing a diverse woody polyculture farm (aka permaculture or regenerative agriculture).

A year’s commitment is requested; the program will continue for multiple years. Overnight stays are optional. Carpooling will be supported. Expect a combination of exciting learning and plain old work.

This is a no-money project.


Vairochana Farm is looking for a farm manager:

The ideal candidate has these skills.

  • woody perennial polyculture, permaculture design, organic certification;
  • ability to supervise apprentices and volunteers, work cooperatively, initiate new projects, handle essential money & record-keeping;
  • plus grafting, maple sugaring, bees, animals, forest products, putting up food, and marketing.

You may live nearby in beautiful southern Minnesota, or consider joining the residential spiritual community living here in a house transitioning to passive solar. (We don’t have separate housing.)

Please call or send resume and your requirements. Compensation could include opportunity to start your own small farm businesses on our 17 acres.


South of Northfield, one hour from Minneapolis. Two chicken houses for humane organic chicken raising. Rent could include cash, eggs, and/or fix-up help. We could help with chicken care but not do it all.

It’s just like this today…

4 Feb

It’s just like this today…

The water heater is indeed broken, and at 20+ years old it makes no sense to spend $400 fixing it. I had planned to install a solar hot water system anyway. But I was going to do that when it was convenient. So it looks like I’ll be taking sponge baths for a while. In principle this is fine with me; hot water is one of our biggest luxuries. In reality it’s a bit uncomfortable and inconvenient. I’ll be bumming showers and laundry when I can.

The questions are: Will the Weatherization Program be willing to help me with solar hot water instead of propane? (They’re supposed to be about sustainability.) If not, will I give in and let them install the evil fossil fuel appliance? And, either way, how long will it take them to get around to it?

And the other questions are: Where did I put that solar camp shower? Will my visitors get upset if I don’t have conventional hot water by the time they arrive?

A string of visitors are coming this spring, for visits of a day, a week, a month or more. I’m excited about that, and about them. Plenty of room for more. Also, I’m talking with various government people about conservation programs and other things, and happy to have help making plans. (There WILL be a group weekend of replacing buckthorn with friendly plants – stay tuned. Maybe April.)

I won’t bore with organizational discussions – seems to me I said enough about that last week. Or climate change information, even though it keeps coming. There’s a quote from Ram Dass: “We’re all just walking each other home.” I try to keep that in mind.

I cleaned the counters, and the mice seem to actually be gone. But I hesitate to trust it.

It’s snowing again. As it should, at this time of year. I went outside a little, but am too much indoors. And I’m noticing craving – I want a bath – this will be interesting. I did find the camp shower and have put it in the window.

Sometime in the past, I used to write. Now I just catch things that float by, that give life. Here is one from Rumi:

November 13

Sit, be still, and listen,

because you’re drunk and we’re at

the edge of the roof.

I did write recently, though, about thoughts:

Peace to you all.


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