Author Archives: Hailey Anderson

2015 Fall-Winter Newsletter

 

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The days feel a little different at the farm. The winds are howling and the rain is falling. Interspersed with Poseidon’s gusts, the clouds part, revealing the deep blue sky and the natural grace of the crisp fall weather. The fog horn can sometimes be heard faintly in the distance of the nearby Saratoga passage. A golden yellow hue decorates the surrounding greenery, as the massive leafs of the Big Leaf Maple dangle and sail in the breeze. The mighty winds and rains of fall provide a sense of normalcy and comfort to the farm, bringing with them more time to slow down, go within, and reset our roots for the future. 

Greetings farm friends and family,

It’s been quite a long time since our last newsletter, so for that we apologize. It has been a remarkable year, and taken a little time to begin to reflect, at least for the purpose of being able to communicate and share with you all again.

First of all, thank you 2015 members of the CSA, both in Lynnwood and on the Island. It’s important to acknowledge to you and others reading this, our eternal gratitude to the commitment of our members (and our market friends) who really make the farm possible as a business and ideal. While we still have some time before next season, we do invite you to hold the farm in your thoughts and prayers, as well as the planet and the growing community and spirit of Ananda Farming. A Yoga Nature farm is a tough nut to crack, and to some folks out there might sound a bit too nutty to exist in the first place.

But in a time of increasing energy and disharmony in both the human and natural worlds, we simultaneously are coming to realize the true reality of the vast inter-connection of all Life and Nature. From the Pope to the President, to the lost central valley of California, we recognize the need for change, and to sow the seeds of hope for a better world.

To this point, we see the work at the farm as our service; both with and for all of those willing to support and believe in new directions, and to the land and the Spirit on which we walk, dream, and sow our seeds.

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Farm Seva

Back at the homestead we stay active and present each day, while also finding time for some slower mornings, filled with extended stretching, chanting, singing bowls, and coffee and cream, errr, meditation! The seasonal transitions are always full of wonder, as if the closer we experience them in ourselves, the more in tune we are with the Creator’s earth song.

In the gardens, we often spend afternoons spreading the mulch (Love), putting the farm to bed for the winter. As we have so often experienced since we began, there is hardly a more gratifying activity than mulching the soil. It is, in essence, the spirit of giving. Straw, wood chips, hay, kale, alpaca litter, horse manure, leaves; everything mulch. And the more we give everything we can back to the soil, the more life the soil gives back to the farm and birds and bees alike.

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Unquestionably the earth’s greatest mulch supplier is that of the trees. And so too, we plant trees; locusts, maples, apples and pears, oaks and elderberries and plums, in and around the garden orchards, and look forward to the day when these too drop their leaves in unitive harmony of all mulch-efforts.

Meanwhile, as a people community, we are 6 strong at the farm, 3 of us in the farm house (Stanley, Hailey and Myself) and 3 in the Haven House (Dakshinananda, Glenda, and Sharon). Together we have the foundation of an amazing group, each person bringing unique energy and inspiration to the family.

Nayaswami Hriman has been joining us every Tuesday evening for satsang and book study – which for the fall, has been the book Cities of Light, by Swami Kriyananda. The book presents the concept of living in Crystal Clarity, or one might say, living in and viewing the world from the perspective of your own highest self. Not an easy task, but certainly one worth exploring, and especially with regards to how we live in this world. In our case, we take a special interest in what this means to our farming and our relationship to life and nature on this planet. A topic for another day!

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Meanwhile, Ananda Yoga is becoming more available on the island. Hailey is offering a Tuesday 6pm class at the farm house (inquire for directions), and Sharon is offering two Wednesdays classes at the Camano Country Club, at 9am and 6pm. Ananda Yoga, from my experience, is a hatha style asana practice focused on relaxing and uplifting the Spirit. It is excellent, and these are two excellent teachers! We also look forward in the new year to group meditations open to the community.

At the farm, a magical addition joined the community this fall by the name of Little Flower, our first beautiful cria (prounounced just like ‘kriya’ for the yogis out there), or baby alpaca. She pretty much came out of the womb walking upright, and it made for special moments when she was finding her mother to feed for the first time. She can often be spotted prancing in and around the big lady alpacas on nice afternoons.

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Stanley is leading the charge at the orchard, pruning the apples and pears for next season. In the Spirit of Ghandi’s Second principle of Natural Farming: “Nothing born out of Mother Earth is Waste,” we then use the prunings as the foundation for wattle terraces and new garden beds along side the Haven House, where we anticipate many seasons of future tomato abundance.

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Meanwhile, as more energy moves indoors for the season, the farm family both prepares for holiday markets and continues it’s mission of providing for the basic needs of one and all.

Dakshina often knits her evenings into beautiful alpaca hats, meditation rugs, scarves, gloves, and other textiles. As Ghandi’s charka, or spinning wheel, has come to represent to millions the spirit of Swadeshi, self-reliance, and a symbol of interdependence with all Life, so too, we ananda farmers explore these ideals in our own humble beginnings of community, farming, nature, and Yoga.

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Hailey has been steadfast in the effort to fill the medicine cabinets – harvesting, crafting, bottling, and labeling the farm’s herbal medicinals. From tooth powder to comfrey oil, first aid spray and hand-made, goat-milk soap, and many, many others, the herbal home remedies production both supports the vitality of the farm and the health of farmers, and YOU! Find these products and more information about our home remedy mission, at Terry’s Corner (Camano Marketplace) on the island, at Handmade Holidays Market in Stanwood, at the Ananda Meditation Temple in Bothell, and at East West Bookshop in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the farm continues to expand in other ways as well, like that of an expanding Light! Glenda has officially begun pouring Ananda Farm eco-soy candles, hand-poured, with only essential oils and no funny stuff. At the farm these have kept the farm alters lit since the earliest days of in-habitation, and so it is with great joy (and a couple years of research on wick and wax!) that candle-maker Glenda has begun pouring more candles to spread the Light far and near.

It’s also with much gratitude to Glenda’s efforts, that we have dozens and dozens of jars of preserves put up for the winter: sage plum, strawberry blackberry, pear butter, tomato basil, and more. No sugar added to anything. These exceptional farm preserves can be found for sale at the Temple in Bothell, or by special request.

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One of the greatest boons to take place this year has been the nectar of nature, Honey. Thanks to our fine friends at Cat’s Paw Honey, Andy and Bonnie Swanson, we have received approx 150 lbs of honey from the hives at the farm this year. Andy keeps and maintains the hives, and Bonnie extracts and bottles the honey. Because we are on the south end of Camano, surrounded by forest and gardens, this honey is pure and protected from the chemicals and practices of modern warfare, I mean modern agriculture. Often I’m reminded a story from Findhorn garden, when near the beginning Peter was doing much of the labor in the garden and in need of nourishment. Assuming they needed more meat protein and calories to sustain, Eileen prayed on this subject. The response, was in fact, eat more honey. What Peter required was not mere protein or calories, but actual life force, from the Source. And in Honey we see and experience an incredible example of both the miracle of Life and it’s healing properties made manifest. Ananda honey is available the Temple in Bothell, or one of the holiday markets.

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In this spirit of the bees, we too work together and put out the cooper-art-ive energy on many projects. One of the first of which, was putting a new porch and cover on front door of the farm house. A place to sit and stay dry in the morning and evening, to take off your shoes and jacket before trouncing in and out of the farm house, and a place for the kitties to perch outside and be protected. The simplest things at the farmstead often provide the greatest function and joy.

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Hailey’s Brother Cole, joining us on the roof of the farm house to install the farm’s first solar panel, which powers the new porch light.

Another reason for celebration and gratitude, is the harvest of a new farm cider press. Thanks to the generous contributions of more than 20 individuals, we were able to raise enough money to purchase our very own hand-crafted, electric-powered Correll Cider Press. Having pressed now for two years at our great friend Gil Schieber’s Skipley Farm in Snohomish, we have come realize very much the need to have and maintain our own press. We look forward to having you (and especially those that contributed!) out to press and sip your own fresh cider in the future.

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We also are in the midst of planting our keeper and cider apple trees right now -many of which keep throughout the winter into the spring. We were blessed to have been gifted cuttings last spring of many great heirloom varieties. The Golden Russet, one of the first famous American apple’s ‘Baldwin’, Thomas Jefferson’s favorite, ‘Espinosus Spitzenburg’, and one of Europe’s most famous strudel apples, ‘Glockenapfel’, among many others.

Whew, I imagine you’ve caught the breeze by now. Good things are happening at the farm.

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This note wouldn’t be complete without a huge thank you and shout out to a true farm saint, Donna King, owner of Cama Cafe, who helped us with almost every farm supper this year in the kitchen. If you haven’t been to a supper yet, see you next season!!

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One final note worth mentioning – Hailey and myself will in fact be away for much of December, as we travel to Baja Sur to visit dear friends, Roy and Dede Lofts, head of the Fellowship of the Bay of Conception. Here we will get married on the beach on Dec 3rd :).

For our friends, family and the Masters, we have set the date with our friend and guides, Swamis’ Hriman and Padma, for the Ananda Wedding Cermony on March 20th, the equinox and Palm Sunday, at the Ananda Meditation Temple in Bothell. While this isn’t exactly a ‘public’ invitation, one imagines if you have made it this far in the newsletter, you’ve earned the right to know!

In the meantime, let us all sow our seeds of Love and Joy in this world, let us spread the mulch of gratitude and peace on earth, and let us plant the trees of abundance and harmony with Life. May the spirit of Ananda farming be within you!

Love

Zachary and the Ananda Farmers

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Would you like to follow more updates from the farm? Follow us on Facebook at Ananda Farm Camano Island.

Drought, Trees, and Water

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Recently there have been many articles relating to NASA’s research and predictions of “mega-droughts” for the American West.  See one example from the BBC, here.

The ultimate conclusion reached by the scientists states that “The cause of the drying was twofold: reduced precipitation – that is, reductions in rainfall and snowfall; but also increased evaporation, driven by higher temperatures, leading to more parched soils.”

Certainly, in California, and even in Washington, where the snow-pack is at record lows right now, and where February has felt more and more like April with each passing day, none can deny the significance of such a report.

NASA’s findings of reduced rainfall and increased temperatures and evaporation seem to be characteristics of a desert, not the causes of desertification. What then, are the causes?

In the article, scientist Cook states “The droughts that people do know about like the 1930s ‘dustbowl’ or the 1950s drought or even the ongoing drought in California and the Southwest today – these are all naturally occurring droughts…”

The language which catches my attention is the ‘natural’ part. What exactly is natural, and what is caused by our own interactions with the earth?

In George Steinbeck’s haunting and compelling novel The Grapes of Wrath, we see a desperate farming family fleeing the dust bowl of Oklahoma in the 1930’s, in hopes of finding new life in the lush central valley of California. Unfortunately for them, no such hope exists, and the chilling ending foreshadows California’s own future. What Steinbeck makes clear, is that the Dust Bowl conditions spreading throughout the Plains are no natural phenomenon, but rather a product of man, money, machines, and the desire to control nature for our own perceived benefit. Where did all that dust come from, if not our actions in exposing the soil that was once stable grassland ecosystem?

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Though studies such as these mega-drought projections may be helpful in raising the awareness of the severity of our environmental shifts, they do little to offer solutions, nor take responsibility as a people or (agri)culture for the actions which have brought about such changes.

In the writings of Masanobu Fukuoka, Japanese natural farmer, he offers some practical causes and solutions.

Upon visiting the lush and fertile American west in the 1980’s, he was shocked to be greeted by a new American desert. “Clouds no longer form here, and rain no longer wets the ground.” “I explained to one farmer that his soil had not always been poor. I told him that the soil had probably grown leaner each time the tiller had turned it over.”

What Fukuoka goes on to suggest, is that we as God’s children inhabiting this planet are in need of a revolution of our own thoughts. “Perhaps rain falls from above meteorologically, but philosophically it falls from below. If there is vegetation on the ground, then water vapor rises here, condenses into clouds, and falls back down to the earth as rain.”

In this statement, we see a very real basis for understanding that our activity on the planet will either bring forth the rain, or limit it. When we remove all the trees, and repeatedly till the soil, we are depleting the earth’s natural reservoirs. Soils become parched when the organic material is removed. The organic material in the soil comes from permanent plant root systems, decaying plant matter, and soil microorganisms. When we practice a form of agriculture that seeks to control nature and excludes all Life but our own, the desert isn’t merely forming in the soil, but it is growing also in our own hearts. We must shift our way of thinking, to view trees and weeds alike, all as serving a purpose in facilitating Life. We can do this through the cultivation of loving acceptance for all Creation.

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As quickly as the trees and vegetation have been removed, they can return, and with them the water. As we grow in awareness of what is happening in the world, and accept responsibility for our collective actions, we can yet again be stewards of life on this planet. The ‘news’ of mega-droughts need not destroy our spirit, but rather send us back to the source of Spirit itself. In the trees, plants, and animals of this earth, there exists the one flowing Spirit of all life.

Happy tree planting everybody!

Ananda Farm Camano Island Winter Reflections

 

February 2015Newsletter and Reflections

Greetings farm friends,

2015 is the beginning of our 3rd year of Ananda Farm on Camano Island (Wow!). We finished up 2014 with successful holiday markets and were able to share a lot of the farm’s herbal care products with a lot of really nice people. And we hear that some of them are really helping people too! Comfrey oil, the farm salve, herbal hydrosols, handmade soap, to name but a few. What a blessing it is to provide for basic needs, for ourselves and a growing community of friends.

 

With another year upon us, more residents are calling the farm home (Welcome Home Dakshina!), with plans for more to arrive with the coming season.

A friend and fellow farmer from Seattle will be joining us in the farm house in April, and it’s likely that additional interns will join us to farm with spirit as the interest and infra-structure for hosting them align.

The winter months have been invaluable, for spending time on the farm, silently walking and observing the land and life and water. The growing season is very energetic and busy, leaving little time for quiet reflection. In the relative inwardness of the winter, one can slow down enough to imagine the farm as one flowing temple of life, void of any property barriers or unnecessary mental-barriers, surrounded by magnificent evergreens, cedars, and maples, towering above our little haven valley sanctuary. In the quiet moments of winter, one realizes how vast the garden of Nature really is, and the inspiration percolates through in seed thoughts and visions of the future.

Certainly for us also, the winter time has helped to keep us moving forward, one small step at a time, and also to address all those things that got pushed aside during the summer.

The work at the farm is continuing to expand, and while still balancing the here and now of vegetable production, equally important is the growth of the tree & plant nursery for perennial agriculture. In mid-February we will add some 700 trees, of varying services to the life at the farm. In the future, we hope that sharing a genuine love of these special trees will spread far and wide on the island and surrounding area, helping more than just ourselves to establish permanent and sustainable agricultural communities.

 

Look closely to see the whip/tongue graft on the light colored stem interlocked with a green gauge plum branch – to create a delicious plum on dwarf rootstock.

As we look forward to the spring, we’ve already begun sowing seeds in the field… our favorite fava beans and peas, garlic, onions, carrots, greens, and more… the farm has always been an experiment, but as much as ever we are trying new methods, with polyculture (vegetable seed mixes) sowings directly into the gardens, as well as observing the natural cycle of how plants reseed themselves; one of the great benefits of no-till agriculture!Pictured below are garlic, left in the ground to over-winter and growing very well in the middle of January!

 

Often we wonder, how can we garden with as little intervention as possible? Surely, the answer lies somewhere between the power of a seed and the human heart. In Nature, we see and feel that anything is possible.

This year also, we expect to start seeing fruit from our young trees and more berries than ever before.

For the coming season, we will again be participating in the Port Susan (Stanwood) and Camano Farmer’s markets, as well as the popular Sunday Market at the Bothell Temple. Winter Market February 15th with herbal products, preserves, winter produce, and alpaca textiles!The CSA will be starting in June, and in the coming weeks will be the opportunity to sign up to reserve your share. We hope to inspire more involvement this year in the Lynnwood gardens in the spirit of self-reliance and awe-inspired gratitude for the blessings available to each of us in God’s garden. The CSA would not be possible without the many hands and and hearts that come together to help it grow.

 

As the farm’s mission expands, we offer to all of you, the question, what is my role with Ananda Farm? Whether as a friend, farmer, knitter, soap-maker, teacher, candle-maker, berry-picker, care-taker, trail-blazer, healer, food preserver, and beyond, the opportunities are boundless in both supporting the farm and each other. Only we as a community can determine what the future of the farm will behold, through the grace of the Masters, but for us farmers, the greatest feeling is one of holding space for all our friends – that one day, the farm may not merely be a sustainable farm, but an active village, full of people serving together to provide for basic needs and meditate in the Spirit of Life from within.

We Look forward to an expansive, beautiful and blessed 2015 for the Ananda Community Farm.

 

Jim fitting the door for the farm’s new honey bucket

Winter Projects (both completed and ongoing) include:

  • A new outhouse (thank you Jim Kent!)
  • Garage improvements with the addition of kitchen cabinets and counters, and shelving units (with remarkable help from Matt and Vihaan!).
  • Greenhouse renovations
  • A tool shop in the barn
  • Re-organization of herbal product materials and processes
  • Alpaca fiber arts (washing, carding, spinning & knitting) Dakshina is turning out some fine hats and scarves, coming soon…
  • Lavender Love (Nivritti heading up the effort to prune and beautify the lavender patch!)
  • Garden bed expansions and mulching
  • Tree planting, establishing food forest
  • Plant propagation & grafting, developing the nursery
  • Compost manufacturing, in the chicken and alpaca yards!

Tulsi dog looking on as alpaca Hobbes makes his way

 

The farm community continues to be grounded by, as much as anyone, the presence of our four-legged friends and various birds. The farm dog; 3 cats; the diverse flock of chickens; two charming ducks; and eight alpacas, curious and beautiful as they are, mowing and fertilizing in ever-expanding areas of the farm. Maybe this year, we are joined by goats?The animals give us a focus for basic service each day, and provide the farm with many services themselves; protection, upliftment, companionship, fiber, eggs, compost production, and more. We experience both the joy of working in harmony, and the upsets when disharmony occurs, hopefully learning from all, but always with gratitude for the community we share with each other.

chickens scratching and fertilizing in one of the straw-mulched strawberry beds

 

Our people community on Camano Island grows and deepens with each passing day.

  • Local beekeeper, Andy, will be helping us to keep more hives at the farm this year.
  • Friendly fruit farmers both on Camano and in Snohomish will be helping to provide more fruit for the growing demand of fresh, local and organic fruit.
  • The Sisters at the Quiet Light Candle Convent in Stanwood have recently supplied another spinning wheel, drum and hand carder, drying racks, and more, for the processing of our alpaca fleece (with Glenda’s much appreciated initiative and financial support!).
  • The farmers markets are truly wonderful example of community and we look forward to reconnecting with customers and vendors alike.
  • We have found like-minded friends at Cama Cafe (just a few miles from the farm) and look forward to providing produce to their kitchen.

 

For those looking to help, we welcome you to volunteer each and every Friday from 1-4pm until the markets start in June, for a different garden or specialty project each week. Select Saturday’s will offer different opportunities for focused hands-on garden workshops, and Mondays through March offer a day dedicated to grafting fruit trees in the loving spirit of Luther Burbank.

We are bringing back Farm Suppers in 2015 and planning for a July 18th Lavender Fesitival to serve as our annual open house.

 

Autumn Update

A Joyful Season

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The seasonal shift has already begun, and so too at the farm our priorities will begin to change.

Last Friday marked the final Port Susan Farmers Market of the 2014 season, with the Camano Island Farmers Market ending a couple weeks ago. We said hello and goodbye to many new familiar faces of customers and vendors whom we’ve gotten to know this year. The connections made were great strides taken towards the community building model we seek and require as a community farm.

 Fall Garden Prep Workshop

We will be offering a hands on workshop on Saturday October 25th 1-4pm, for fall bed prep here at the farm, teaching interested folks how to prepare no-till garden beds for the winter. Naturally, an increasing role for the farm(ers) will be the education and sharing of the permaculture / hand-cultivated model of production, which will continue to refine itself in correlation with our own understanding. What are the benefits in this model, and how do we share them that we and others may grow in our collective understanding of the role of agriculture in the extraordinary dawn of the 21st century. Sorry, that was a thesis for something else… hehe.

CSA 2014

This Wednesday marks the final week of CSA, which by most accounts has been successful and mostly fun too.  We hada small but mighty group that helped almost every week to help the boxes get harvested and distributed. Thank you, team, for your dedication and friendships. Thank you also to all the CSA members who supported and consumed our growing efforts! Finally we wish to express our gratitude to Gil  of Skipley Farm, Spencer & Karen of Hazel Blue Acres, and  Robin & Craig of Silvana Produce; it was a joy to work in cooperation with you to fill our weekly boxes with quality local fruit and veggies.

Vacation

For Hailey and myself, we will be in the back of our minds at least, starting to prepare for a 3 week break. Our return will be in time for holiday events starting up on the Island (Camano Center Holiday Bazaar, November 22nd), as well as Sundays at our own Ananda Temple in Bothell.  Our vacation will be a visit to my parents in St Louis for 5 days, and then a ride with two old friends to the the Baja Sur for about 10 days of sunny beach time a midst the desert.  In our absence, Sharon from Laurelwood will be staying at the farm house, taking care of the animals, etc.
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Meanwhile, at the farm, we will spend the next two weeks winterizing various aspects, spreading mulch, burlap, and sowing seeds. So too at the community, we will begin to work with Omprakash for fall bed preparations. In addition, the fall is an excellent time for planting fruit trees, of which we have many from our grafted trees in the spring, and so staking sites and planting will be a continuous operation through the winter.

Orchard

The abundance of the orchard (which we lease outside of Stanwood) has been wonderful, and a true God-send for the second year farm.
photo 3Each week seemed to grow a little greater with the handsome and delicious heritage varieties of apples and pears offered. The experience of working with almost 90 mature fruit trees for both Hailey and myself (pruning, thinning, and harvesting) has been invaluable to our growth as aspiring sustainable farmers… And quite amazingly, the realization also that although quite abundant, we could use a lot more fruit going forward. The demand for local, freshly harvested and organic fruit feels quite limitless to the creative mind. We have begun selling fresh spiced cider through the Camano Marketplace for the holiday season (thank you to Gil from Skipley farm for always sharing your press with us!). Going forward, cider presents an exceptional growth opportunity both for market and our own health reserves throughout the winter.

Herbal Medicinals

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The herbal medicinals continue to be a big part of the farm operations, and grow in their out-reach. The amount and quality of feedback we have received from folks having used the comfrey oil for example, is quite extraordinary. One day we will start collecting testimonials! In the meantime, a slow but steady growth of small batch production seems the best model for sharing the farm remedies and maintaining the best quality control. We don’t wish to compete with dove and irish spring – but we do hope to provide our community with better and more effective alternatives to the basic health and body needs we often share.

Meanwhile, Glenda has lead the food preservation charge: tomatoes, salsa, fruit preserves, apple butter will all be offered during the holiday season.

Looking Ahead

At the farm, the winter hopefully holds slower periods for reflection and planning, in addition to some time spent improving the farm’s infrastructure. Last winter we put up and built beds in greenhouses, a chicken coop, and created a tree nursery. This year we will look to erect a harvest/processing station near the farm house, and work towards creating seasonal outdoor living accommodations for farm interns and ourselves, continue the expansion of vegetable beds in the lower field, and plant more fruit and supporting trees here on the farm.As one may guess, I could go on, and on. A final and important note of gratitude, to all of you, who have helped the farm come into fruition, and provided the field for which Ananda Farm(ing) can blossom. Praise be to God and Guru for providing the knot of community which ties us together and makes all things possible.In grateful service

zach and hailey

Spring Garden Tour and House Blessing

Enjoy Lunch and Tour the Farm

Sunday March 16th

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  • Vegetarian Lunch at 1:00pm @ Haven Place
  • Haven House Blessing @ 2:15pm
  • Garden Tour at 2:30pm
  • Parking @ 732 Haven Place, Camano Island
    Directions

Spring is Coming…

The plants have gone dormant for the winter, but we haven’t! Help us welcome our second spring here on Camano Island. Come view transformations in the landscape, meet new animals, see the first plants of the year, and enjoy lunch with friends.

Walk about the Farm…

We love working out here with Mother Nature and are looking forward to sharing with you!

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  • See for yourself where this year’s fruits, vegetables, and herbs will grow.
  • We’ll point out the soil building plants and identify beneficial native plants that have lived here all along.
  • Take a look in our nursery to see what is yet to go out, and what you might like to take home.
  • Peek in the greenhouses to see plants getting an early start.
  • Meet the 6 alpacas, 5 chickens, the cat & dog.

We look forward to seeing you!