White Oak Farm is offering a 7 month Natural Building Practicum in 2017 for one qualified builder.Â The position will provide the opportunity for an aspiring natural builder with at least one year of experience to practice their craft through the construction of a small cob/straw/light straw clay classroom as well as additional projects including plastering, solar hot water, carpentry, and more.Â The builder will work with the Farm staff, interns, workshop participants, volunteers and school groups to implement the projects, providing ample opportunities for creativity, leadership, skill building, and experimentation.
The Natural Building Practicum is designed to provide experience to an individual with an interest in developing their knowledge and skills for a life and career in natural building. The program requires hard work, a good attitude, the ability to live and work with others, and self-motivation. The builder will receive simple housing in their own wall tent, staple foods, farm fruits and vegetables, and access to farm facilities including kitchen, phone, internet, showers, ponds, and a sauna.Â There is also a monthly stipend.Â Responsibilities of the program include three days per week of building projects as well as one day per week working on the farm, and daily chores.Â All Farm residents are also expected to communicate clearly, be self-motivated, and work hard.
The program runs from April 1st to October 31, with a one month trial period.Â Prior experience in natural building is required for participation.Â To apply please send a cover letter describing your relevant experiences and interests, along with a resume and references to email@example.com
It assuredly is a farm; there are annual row crops, grazing animals, big compost piles. But that doesnâ€™t mention White Oakâ€™s epic, yet somehow immaculate, permaculture design; the irrigation system that gravity feeds the farm beds from water-catchment ponds which welcome swimmers on hot summer days; or the unbelievable plant diversity that blooms all season in the form of outrageously beautiful flowers, medicinal herbs, unusual fruits, and pollinator-feeding beneficial insects.
Itâ€™s also definitely an education center, as weâ€™ve led a myriad of kids programs this season from preschool, to school visits, to a week-long summer farm camp. Being a part of these programs sheds light on kids who get to see food growing and who harvest their own lunch from the land for the first time. Their energy is totally transformed with awe and wonder upon experiences such as stepping into the forest for a hike or eating a healthy, fresh meal that they find they actually really like.
What I find particularly incredible is how these layers of highly functional systems and touching experiences weave together to create the White Oak enterprise. Looking at it from my perspective as an intern, Iâ€™m getting to learn about sustainable, regenerative agriculture; Iâ€™m gaining skills from teaching to homesteading to animal care, Iâ€™m getting a crash course in rural living and the resourcefulness that it necessitates, and so much more. The life Iâ€™m enjoying here only exists the way it does because of so much energy that has come before me. The buildings on the land I spend time in every day were built by folks that were part of natural building workshops who now have skills to create their own structures. The trees Iâ€™m eating delicious fruit from were cared for by interns from many previous years who can now grow their own food. The beautiful forest that I live in has been host to eco-forestry workshops, sending more forest stewards out into the world. All this energy from the past has gone into creating this ever-moving and growing place, continually fed in the present, and spreading more beauty throughout the world in the future.
So when I think about White Oak, as a farm, an education center, a petting zoo, a permaculture paradise, a rich forest, a heartful community, it seems that in all its multi-layered, multi-functional magic, this White Oak organismâ€™s aliveness rests in the kinetic energy of what can happen when people join together to create an abundant, thriving world.
Once again the rains have returned to the hills and valleys of southern Oregon, blessing us with crystal clear air, vibrant fall colors and trickling springs and streams. Perhaps due to my northwest roots, I never lose appreciation for a comforting blanket of morning clouds or the sound of pounding rain on the barnâ€™s metal roof. The rains nourish the soil and plants, and at the same time renew our own spirits for the beginning of another year and exciting new projects to come!
2015 was a year of great challenges, and yet due to an extremely positive and productive crew and supportive community the Farm had its best year yet. For the third year running, southern Oregon was hit with extreme drought and heat, leading to our most limited irrigation season ever, and several weeks of wildfire smoke in August. In addition, our local water official informed us that our decades-old pond was never properly permitted by previous owners of the property and thus requires over $1,000 in fees and permits. Finally, our summer intern was forced to cancel her internship on day one due to family problems.
In response to these challenges, we have renewed our dedication to drought-proofing the Farm and sharing these techniques through several new adult workshops next year. Additionally, our tireless crew of Brian Geier, McKenzie Woolley, Stephanie Magoon, Sarah Shea, Casey Wright and Nicole Kraft more than made up for any labor shortage by going above and beyond in their dedication to the Farmâ€™s many programs! Thanks to the crew, abundant sunshine, and well-metered irrigation, the farming season was extremely productive, with great harvests for the Farmerâ€™s Market, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, seed contracts, and our local food bank.
Our childrenâ€™s education programs were also very successful, as highlighted by our growing partnership with College Dreams (see page 3). Education Coordinator Brian Geier oversaw an expanded preschool and overnight school-visit program that allowed more youngsters to spend quality time at the Farm. One highlight of the season was an overnight visit from the third grade class at Medfordâ€™s Madrone Trail Charter School in May. Twenty-five students spent their time harvesting and cooking from the garden, exploring the forest, tending the chickens and goats, and sleeping out in our new wall tents. Summer Farm Camps were again a big hit with participants, and Spring and Fall school visits were offered to twenty classes from throughout the Rogue Valley thanks to our partnership with Rogue Valley Farm to School. Overall our childrenâ€™s education programs continue to be the heart of our mission at White Oak Farm, and we are always gratified by the smiles, laughter and insight that children bring to the Farm each day.
As the farming and education seasons come to a close, I find myself extremely excited thinking about the year to come and the great things in store for 2016. Thanks to several unexpected grants and donations and an energized staff, we are embarking on an ambitious program for next year. First, with the help of our former intern and local forester Josh Weber, we have begun a maintenance, bridge building, and signage project for our trail system. We are also planning to improve our education infrastructure by constructing covered outdoor eating and classroom spaces partially from poles harvested as part of the trail project. Our drought-proofing efforts will also continue with the installation of several new water storage systems and efficiency measures. Finally, we are developing several new adult education programs, including a 12 day Permaculture Design Course in late March, and a sustainable living skills series to be offered throughout the year. Check out our website for updates on these exciting new programs!
Spring has sprung in Southern Oregon and that means School Visits and Farmer’s Market Season.Â
We are excited to welcome ten local schools out to the farm for Harvest Meal visits this April and May.Â Thanks to a great partnership with Rogue Valley Farm 2 School, these visits are free to participating classes!
The Williams Farmer’s Market is also up and running earlier than ever beforeÂ Â Â Â thanks to abundant spring sunshine and warm temps.Â Local folks come check it out Mondays from 4-6:30 at the Williams Grange.