Farm Incubator/Independent farming situation in Indiana for 2014 and beyond:
Brambleberry Farm is a small permaculture-based farm located in the hills of gorgeous Southern IN, in Paoli. www.brambleberryfarm.org They are offering an independent farming situation as part of a Farm Incubator Project. They have about ¾ acre of garden space, 1 acre pasture, and housing available for a couple or individual to rent in exchange for 16 hours of labor/week (8 hr/each for a couple or 16 hrs for an individual). Minimum stay is one year, with the possibility to extend up to three years.
The living situation is a mobile home that Darren and Espri of Brambleberry Farm originally brought onto the property to live in while building a house. In the six years they lived in the trailer they spent some time making it more sustainable. They landscaped with vines and edible perennials to help seasonally shade the home, and built a passive solar greenhouse onto the south side to heat the trailer and grow seedlings for their farm. For water, they set up a rainwater harvesting system collecting off an adjacent workshop. They started their market garden by building no-till mulch beds around the trailer.
They completed the house, a beautiful and functional strawbale home with attached greenhouse and earthen plasters, rainwater system, and young edible landscaping, in January 2010. They have also evolved away from growing market produce and are focusing on a fruit/nut/berry nursery, grass-fed beef, handcrafted wooden utensils, and raising three delightful children.
Following the predicted permaculture pattern of use zones, they have not been able to upkeep their old garden beds, even though they are only 200' away from the new house. Living in your garden seems the best way to keep it tended and they found that they needed to abandon the old systems to focus on the new ones around their house.
In fall 2011, they decided to open up the old home, its gardens and systems to ambitious people, eager to apply their experience from working on other farms but without financial resources to buy or lease land. The agreement would be that you can use the garden space and house as you like, even re-doing the beds and pathways. You would be responsible for the electric bill (theirs was usually around $40/mo) and procuring either propane or wood for winter supplemental heat (there is a woodstove--they used about 2 cords of wood a winter), but your rent would be in the form of work exchange (16 hours a week total) helping them with various projects, mostly farm or homestead related. The rest of your time it is up to your own ambition to work the land and landscape around you to grow things. Darren and Espri are happy to lend their experience and advice, but you will be doing your own work and finding your own markets. This project has been a success so far, with the previous couple staying two full years and creating a solvent and growing produce operation, selling at a co-op and two farmers markets in Bloomington, IN.
Total garden bed space is around 3/4 acre. There is also a one acre pasture area with a 10 x 12 chicken coop which is pretty brushy and un-fenced, but has a number of half-grown fruit trees and good potential.
Brambleberry Farm is exactly one hour south of Bloomington IN and one hour northwest of Louisville KY, both with thriving local food movements and full of outlets for local food (
Bloomington Farmers Market, Louisville Farmers Markets). There is also a great farmer's market 10 min north of us in Orleans, IN and a natural foods coop 5 min away in Paoli (LostRiver Market & Deli).
Sorry, but we can't allow dogs.
Since you will be farming on your own, prior experience is highly recommended. Applicants must submit a resume (can be informal list of work experience), and 3 references: 1 former employer, 1 living situation (i.e.roommate/housemate), and one personal reference (such as a mentor or friend). Send application to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 31, 2014. Applications may be accepted after this time, check brambleberryfarm.org for availability.