Unadilla Community Farm

West Edmeston, New York, United States

  • Last updated: January 15, 2017 (4 months ago)
  • Listing created on: April 22, 2015

Mission Statement

To provide a space for the teaching and practice of sustainable skills.

Community Description

Unadilla Community Farm was founded in 2013 by a group of wwoofers dedicated to the goals of the back-to-the-land movement. The goal of our cooperative is to provide organic fruits and vegetables to local markets while living self-sufficiently and sustainably in harmony with the natural world. We are starting from scratch on 12 acres of beautiful fields and forest, adjacent to protected forest land and Amish country. A creek and river also run along the perimeter of the land. We are 10 minutes from Edmeston, a quaint rural town in upstate New York. We are seeking volunteers and prospective cooperative members interested in disconnecting from the mainstream, learning to support ourselves by growing our own organic vegetables, utilizing natural building methods to construct our barn and dwelling structures, making our own household products like soap and shampoo, and reviving traditional agricultural and lifestyle practices. We are eager to learn new skills, like beekeeping, weaving, and candle making, and welcome those who can teach these practices to the community and improve upon our self-sufficiency. We intend to hold workshops (building, gardening, soap making, crafts, etc.) for the public and to sell our products at the local farmers’ market.

About

  • Type(s): Commune (organized around sharing almost everything), Ecovillage (organized around ecology and sustainability), Shared Housing, Cohouseholding, or Coliving (multiple individuals sharing a dwelling)
  • Programs & Activities: Volunteer, Internship, or Apprenticeship, WWOOF’ing, Guest Farming
  • Location: Rural

Housing

  • Status: We have land we have developed on
  • Area: 12 acres
  • Current Residence Types: Tiny house, Natural built structues
  • Current Number of Residences: 1
  • Planned number of residences: 2
  • Planned Residence Types: Room(s) in a house or building, Tiny house, Natural built structues
  • Housing Provided: Work-exchange
  • Land owned by: Individual community member(s)
  • Additional Comments:

    We do not currently have electricity, running water, or permanent structures. We have a double-burner propane camp stove that we use for cooking. We have a screened-in dining tent with a dining table and chairs, as well as a covered kitchen tent with the stove, sink, and cabinet containing food, dishes, and kitchen utensils. All of our food is stored in sealed, animal-proof plastic bins.
    Our property is adjacent to a creek and a river, where we bathe.
    We have an outdoor compost toilet and we provide toilet paper.
    We do not have Internet access or electricity on the property at this time. We typically have good cell phone reception. We understand the need to use electronics for communication, but encourage minimizing usage and instead trying to be more present.
    We usually go to the local library once a week to use the computers and charge cell phones. We also occasionally make trips into town to go to museums, cafes, grocery stores, or get needed supplies.
    We have a company car used for group trips and farm supply runs or other business-related trips, as well as volunteer pick-ups and drop-offs within a 40 minute radius of the farm.

    We are still in the process of constructing our dwellings. For the 2017 season, our dwelling options include: staying in our newly built tiny home that can sleep up to 2 people, staying in the two upstairs lofts of our unheated barn, or various tent platforms and camp spots around the property (please bring your own tent/hammock, bedding, etc.).

    Our current building style that we are experimenting with on our “pilot” building project is: rammed tire foundation; traditional timber frame using local lumber; local cedar shingled roof; straw bale / slip straw / slip chip insulation for walls and ceilings; and natural plasters including earth-based and lime.

    The construction of our community housing is being led by Ben Tyler. He’s been involved in the building trades his whole life, but truly found his calling when he decided to work exclusively on sustainable housing, organic farming, and community development projects. Since then he’s worked with local governments, NGO’s and non-profits in North America, Latin America and Europe, and leads natural building workshops and seminars for non-professionals. You can read more about Ben’s previous projects on his blog: bensnaturalbuilding.blogspot.com.

Membership

  • Adult Members: 5
  • Non-member Residents: 2
  • Percent Women: 50%
  • Percent Men: 50%
  • Percent Transgender: 0%
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process:

    Volunteers and members are required to work 30 hours a week, typically 5 days a week, 6 hours a day.
    In exchange, all organic vegetarian/vegan meals are provided. We also have workers’ insurance which covers all of our volunteers.

    The following are examples of the typical jobs that we do at Unadilla Community Farm:
    – gardening/landscape work: tilling soil with gas-powered tiller, planting, weeding, mulching, emptying compost/humanure buckets and tending compost/humanure piles, watering, tree care, lawn mowing, harvesting vegetables
    – natural building: use of power tools to cut wood, heavy lifting, sanding, oiling, measuring and assembly
    – feeding chickens, collecting eggs, cleaning coop
    – cooking communal vegetarian/vegan meals

    We welcome volunteers and prospective members with all levels of experience, with a dedicated work ethic, open mind, commitment to sustainability, and desire to learn together as a community how we can forge a new life independent of mainstream consumer culture. **We are in particular need of a farm manager.**

    **We are asking our volunteers to commit to a 1-month minimum stay, with preference given to those who can commit to a longer stay. We have an application form we ask prospective volunteers to fill out, which both gives you some more information about us and vice versa.**

  • Open to new Members: Yes
  • Membership Process:

    We ask that prospective members volunteer at Unadilla for three months (1 season), prior to requesting membership in the community. All current members must unanimously agree to grant a newcomer membership. Members must pay a one-time membership fee of $250 to the cooperative and sign a contract. Members receive a share of the cooperative’s earnings in two ways: (1) a member share in proportion to the amount of hours worked per season, and (2) investment share, i.e. a return, with interest, of money loaned to the cooperative.

Government

  • Decision Making: Consensus (everyone agrees)
  • Identified Leader: No
  • Leadership Core Group: Yes
  • Additional Comments:

    All cooperative members are automatically members of the Board of Directors. We make all decisions by consensus. As a group, we have drafted a set of bylaws outlining our mission, objectives, and member expectations. Our bylaws can be viewed on our website (unadillacommunityfarm.blogspot.com).

Economics

  • Join Fee: $250
  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: Yes
  • Regular Fee per Month: $250
  • Shared Income: Partial share of income
  • Required Labor Contribution per Week: 30
  • Open to members with existing debt: Yes
  • Additional Comments:

    Volunteers are not required to pay the cooperative fees, but if not then they would not receive member or investment shares. Cooperative members are expected to pay the initial joining fee ($250) and the monthly upkeep fee ($10/day or $250/month).

Sustainability Practices

  • Energy Infrastructure: We are totally off grid.
  • Current renewable energy generation: 0%, or close to 0%
  • Planned renewable energy generation: 100%
  • Current food produced: Up to 25%
  • Planned food produced: Between 26-49%
  • Food produced locally: Up to 25%

Lifestyle

  • Common Facilities: Common House, Garden(s), Vehicle Share, Swimming pond or pool, Outdoor Kitchen, Tractor & Farm Equipment, Fire pit, Waterfront access
  • Internet Available: No
  • Internet Fast?: There is no internet access at our community.
  • Cell Phone Service: Good for most people.
  • Shared meals: Approximately all meals
  • Dietary Practice: Local (food sourced within 150 miles), Organic (no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers), GMO Free (only non-genetically modified organisms), Vegetarian Only (no animal meat; dairy and eggs okay) – Please check this only if you are 100% Vegetarian, Mostly Vegetarian, Vegan Only (plants only, no animal products) – Please check this only if you are 100% Vegan., Mostly Vegan, Opportunivore (dumpster diving, nature harvesting, etc.), Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: Yes – we all share a common diet.
  • Special Diets OK: Sometimes
  • Alcohol Use: No, this community does not permit alcohol use.
  • Tobacco Use: No, this community does not permit tobacco use.
  • Additional Diet Comments:

    As an organic farm, we should be able to grow or forage almost all of the greens and vegetables we need from May to August. The cooperative’s funds are used to buy any additional food we might need to make sure all on-site members and volunteers are well fed and happy. We are currently eating a vegetarian/vegan diet and we ask that meat is not brought onto the property. We do have chickens for those who wish to eat eggs.
    Please keep in mind that the cooperative’s funds must only be spent on organic food, and cannot be spent on luxury items like sugar, chocolate, coffee or alcohol. We’re currently part of a local buyer’s club, which allows us to purchase organic American-grown bulk grains, beans, pasta, nuts, dried fruit, spices, etc. at a wholesale discount.
    The cooperative’s funds cannot be used to finance any illegal activity, and all illegal activity is of course forbidden while on the cooperative’s land. No alcohol is allowed on-site at this time.

  • Common Spiritual Practice(s): Ecumenical (accepts all religions or spiritual practices), Eclectic (integrates multiple religious or spiritual beliefs), Paganism or Earth Religions
  • Spiritual Practice Expected?: No
  • Education Style(s): Up to each family or individual
  • Healthcare Options: Up to each family or individual

Additional Comments

2016 was our third season in operation, and thanks to all of our friends and volunteers we made huge progress! We finished the white cedar staggered shingle roof of our timber-framed barn. We harvested our first garlic crop and sold our produce to a local market for the first time! We finished planting guilds around our 95 fruit and walnut trees, so each tree is surrounded by beneficial companion plants.

This year, we grew lettuce, kale, chard, collards, leeks, mustard greens, beets, garlic, onions, turnips, horseradish, cabbage, fennel, dill, cilantro, sage, mint, parsley, edible flowers, tomatoes, zucchini, flax, lavender, gourds, and many types of berries – raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries, and blueberries, including heirloom varieties. In previous years, we planted many types and varieties of fruit trees – sea buckthorn, apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, mulberries, apricots. We also forage for wild greens. We have our own eggs from our chickens who roam freely on the property! We never use any pesticides and plan to attain organic certification in the future. We supplement our diet with organic American-grown (preferably local or from the Northeast) grains, beans, and other staples. In the interest of learning to live self-sufficiently off of the land, we are currently eating a vegan/vegetarian diet. No meat, alcohol, or drugs are allowed on the property. But you’re welcome to visit the tavern down the road if you’d like to get yourself a burger and a cold beer on the weekends.

We use natural building methods and source our building materials locally. We get our lumber from the mountain down the road, and our Amish neighbors mill it for us.

We welcome wwoofers with all levels of experience, with a dedicated work ethic, open mind, commitment to sustainability, and desire to learn together as a community how we can forge a new life independent of mainstream consumer culture.

**We are asking our volunteers to commit to a 1 month minimum stay, with preference given to those who can commit to a longer stay. We have an application form we ask prospective volunteers to fill out, which both gives you some more information about us and vice versa.**

Photo Gallery

Community Network or Organization Affiliations

The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), Global Ecovillage Network (GEN)

Keywords

self-sufficiency, off-the-grid, organic farming, vegetarian, natural building, artisanal crafts