Ben Tyler

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since Jun 07, 2012
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Recent posts by Ben Tyler

Hi G Bowes, we are currently seeking new leadership & land transition at a 501c3 nonprofit farm, which includes the sale of 11.35 acres of land in NY State, including a 1-acre multi-story “food forest” that is one-of-a-kind in our region. The food forest currently features over 160 varieties of perennial, cold-hardy crops, including over 350 fruit and nut trees; over 480 berry-producing shrubs; ⅓ of an acre of culinary and medicinal herbs; and over 4,600 square feet of bed space for annual vegetables. We have been operating a 501c3 nonprofit on the land for 10 years, and we are looking for a new group to buy the land and take over management of the nonprofit.

We are open to creative models that ensure continuation of the non-profit’s operations, whether the land transfers to new private ownership, the non-profit itself purchases the land, another non-profit entity purchases the land, a land trust purchases the land, an agrarian commons is created, etc. You can see more info at the thread above, and also here is our land listing: https://nyfarmlandfinder.org/find-a-farm/property/unadilla-community-farm
This is a call-out for new staff and board leadership, to take over management of Unadilla Community Farm, a 501c3 nonprofit agroforestry farm in West Edmeston, NY that donates 100% of its produce to food pantries and mutual aid groups. This includes a transition of land ownership that ensures guaranteed access for the non-profit to continue its operations.

Background: 2024 is Unadilla Community Farm’s 11th season, and our fifth as a 501c3 nonprofit. We are incredibly proud of where Unadilla Community Farm has come, from our first season bushwhacking fields of goldenrod to where we are today. Now, ten years later, Unadilla Community Farm is a thriving 501c3 non-profit supported by generous recurring donors, foundations, and grants. We donate 100% of our produce to food pantries, mutual aid groups, and herbal clinics, which amounted to over $43,500 worth of produce in 2023. Over the past 10 years, 228 people from across 6 continents have participated in our education programs. We have transformed an abandoned corn field, regenerating the land and establishing a 1-acre multi-story “food forest” that is one-of-a-kind in the region. The food forest currently features over 160 varieties of perennial, cold-hardy crops, including over 350 fruit and nut trees; over 480 berry-producing shrubs; ⅓ of an acre of culinary and medicinal herbs; and over 4,600 square feet of bed space for annual vegetables. Now it is time for us to pass the torch on to the next generation, to share all of the knowledge, skills, and lessons we’ve learned in founding this one-of-a-kind non-profit farm education center.

Acreage & Farm Set-Up: The total land parcel that is for sale is 11.35 acres. The farm comes fully equipped with all tools and infrastructure to run the operation, including a drip irrigation system, timber-framed barn, high tunnel, skoolie, and tiny home.

Price & Land Acquisition Process: The asking price for the farm is $50,000 (plus $25,000 for the tiny home if desired -- see listing page for more details). The land is currently privately owned, with a guaranteed long-term $1/year lease for the non-profit. We are open to creative models that ensure continuation of the non-profit’s operations, whether the land transfers to new private ownership, the non-profit itself purchases the land, another non-profit entity purchases the land, a land trust purchases the land, an agrarian commons is created, etc.

Timeline: We are committed to a seamless transition and will onboard the new staff and board team throughout the next year, passing on all aspects of the non-profit’s operations, management, and programming. Interested parties are also invited to apply to 2024 paid staff positions at the farm — Farm Fellowship positions are currently open as a potential pathway for monetary compensation for the new team’s time during the onboarding process — click here for more details and to apply.

For more details, please visit our listing on the NY Farmland Finder website here.

Please complete this short application form to express interest in assuming the operations and management of Unadilla Community Farm, including the land ownership transition: https://form.jotform.com/240254967269063

For questions, please contact unadillacommunityfarm@gmail.com.

We’re so excited to see what the next 10 years hold in store for Unadilla Community Farm.

~Greta Zarro, Co-Founder & Board President
~Ben Tyler, Co-Founder & Project Manager
Applications are now open and will be accepted on a rolling basis. The 2022 season will run from May 1-October 2, 2022, with a 1-month minimum stay (flexible start & end dates throughout the season).

2022 will be our 9th season welcoming interns at Unadilla Community Farm for our permaculture internship. We host interns with all levels of experience, with a commitment to sustainability and a desire to learn together how we can forge a new life independent of mainstream consumer culture. We host a cohort of 30-40 interns each season from May to early October. The program consists of 24 hands-on hours/week plus 10-12 classroom hours/week, with a 1 month minimum stay. As a 501(c)3 non-profit education center, we rely on the generous support of individual donors, foundations, and grants to cover all intern expenses including room & board, trainings, classes, and certifications, ensuring that the program is available at no cost to participants.

Our permaculture internship is more than just a beginning farmer training program. It is an immersion into a rural, off-grid sustainable way of life. Interns gain hands-on experience in no-till organic farming, regenerative agroforestry, permaculture design, natural building, foraging, plant-based cooking, food preservation, and more. Interns assist in all aspects of the farm’s free and sliding-scale veggie box program to address food insecurity in Central New York State. Through classes with staff and guest instructors, participants learn concepts such as: food safety, crop rotation, farm planning, food forest design, herbalism, native plants, fundraising, and more. NEW in 2022: We are partnering with the National Young Farmers Coalition Food Safety Fellows to offer FSMA certification for all interns, a federally-recognized food safety training that is required by law for many farms, to equip interns with the skills they need to manage a farm or start up their own.

Beyond providing hands-on training in sustainable farming and natural building to prepare interns for careers in food and farming or self-sufficient homesteading, our program is also an opportunity to learn and improve upon skills such as communal living, communication, time management, organization, leadership, and teamwork. NEW in 2022: We are partnering with trainer Miles Sherts to offer conscious communication classes as part of our program. Conscious communication focuses on listening without judgement, voicing strong feelings without blame or attack, establishing healthy boundaries that enable mutual respect, and caring for yourself while also caring for others. These critical communication skills can be applied to any type of workplace or community living, helping interns thrive in whatever path they choose.

Our internship is about divesting from mainstream consumer culture, and learning to support ourselves by growing our own produce, utilizing natural building methods to construct our infrastructure, making our own household products like soap and lotion, reviving traditional agricultural and lifestyle practices, and living in community. We equip interns with the skills to become more sustainable and self-sufficient and replicate permaculture models in their communities.

Our accredited permaculture internship has attracted interns from North & South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and New Zealand. College and university students in both the U.S. & abroad have earned course credits for our internship program.

COVID Update: We were able to safely carry out our internship for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, hosting 60 interns throughout the pandemic, by implementing a COVID safety plan. Interns are required to quarantine for 14 days, OR quarantine for 10 days prior to arrival + show proof of a negative COVID test after day 7. This quarantine is essential because, once on-site, interns live as a “family unit” or “pod” and no masking/social distancing is required (vs. the new CDC 5-day quarantine, which requires 5 days of masking afterwards. Masking/social distancing on-site during the internship is not feasible due to our close living quarters).

Learn more about the Permaculture Internship & apply: https://unadillacommunityfarm.org/internship/
This spring I'm putting in a small PV system to pump water from the creek to some IBC totes we've strategically placed around the orchard. I've installed a few small scale off-grid PV systems for tiny homes and cabins before, but never a pump, so I would love to hear some feedback from you all on my design! I'll lay it all out in detail here, and please fire away with any questions or thoughts you have on it.

PV panels:
- there are two 100-watt panels, 18.6 volts Vmp, 5.38 amps Imp each
- these are connected in parallel, for a total of 200 watts, 18.6 volts Vmp, 10.76 Imp
- these are mounted to the top of an IBC tote in the closest sunny location

Cable from panels to charge controller:
- from my point of view this is the stickiest part of the design.
- the controller, battery bank, and pump are all in a small pump house alongside the creek (in separate rooms so the pump doesn't accidentally spray the electronics).
- the distance between the PV panels and the charge controller is 110 feet.
- 18.6 volts, 10.76 Imp, traveling 110 feet, with 4% Vmp loss, I would need to use 4-gauge cable.
- I'm splicing together two 6-gauge cables I already have to create the same effect as a single 4-gauge cable.

Charge controller:
- 12 volt, 20 amp MPPT charge controller
- I'll be connecting the pump to the load terminals on the controller, and setting the controller to shut off the pump when the panels aren't receiving sunlight. The controller also has an over-discharge shutoff to protect the batteries
- Rated load current is 20 amps, so the pump can't exceed 20 amps

Battery bank:
- rather than buy an actual pump controller, I'm using a couple of old sealed AGM batteries I have laying around, now that we've upgraded our off-grid tiny home to lithium. These batteries are old and don't hold much charge, but if the pump is only running during the day then I figure these batteries will just be providing a little padding while most of the power comes from the PV panels
- two 12-volt, 55 Ah sealed AGM batteries, connected in parallel, for a total of 110 Ah (but they're so old it's probably more like 25 Ah total)

Pump:
- Shurflo 2088-514-145 diaphragm pump
- it has an adjustable pressure switch, so it'll mostly be on standby and will automatically turn on when a float valve opens (I'm installing float valves in our tanks)
- 12 volts, up to 9.5 amps, so I'm hoping that even if the start-up current is twice as much it'll still be 19 amps and won't scare the charge controller
- it's also self-priming up to 9 feet (I'll position this 2 feet above a suction strainer in the creek bed, on the bank 5 feet away)

Hose to Tanks:
- this is probably the weakest part of the design. I don't even really know how to calculate the loss in flow on paper. On top of that, my old 2" discharge hose is leaking badly so I'm switching to all the old 3/4" garden hoses I've collected over the years. If they restrict the flow too much I think I'll upgrade to 2" schedule 40 pvc. But I really just pulled 2" out of the air. If anyone knows how to calculate the proper pipe diameter I should be using, please let me know!
- the first tank inlet is 110 feet from the pump, with an 8 foot rise
- the second tank inlet is 300 feet from the pump, with a 10 foot rise
- the third tank inlet is 500 feet from the pump, with a 10 foot rise

Thanks to everyone who actually reads all of this, and thanks in advance for any advice or feedback you might have!
- Ben
3 years ago

r ranson wrote:Beer traps worked so well for me when I was gardening in the city.  It was an allotment so I had no control of the environment outside the garden bed. But beer traps with the cheapest beer possible would remove enough slugs each night to prevent any slug damage.



R Ranson this is a tactic I've always wanted to try, but I feel I'm still lacking on the details. Could you describe exactly how your beer trap tactic worked? Like, what did you use for the container? How big/deep was it? Did you bury it? Was the surface of the beer at ground level, or did they have to climb over a brim and jump in to reach it? Did you need to leave the beer open to get warm and flat first? Where did you set the traps - in the middle of your beds, in the pathways, etc, and (last one) how many traps would you set over how many square feet?

I would love to up my slug game this spring, but I've never been interested in purchasing yet another pest control product like Sluggo. It's more the economics of buying in single-use consumables that turns me off. So far I've been relying making my garden less hospitable for them, like cutting the grass as short as possible to dry everything out and eliminating any sort of slug shelter like exposed cardboard or small rock piles. I've also had noticeable success with attracting snakes and skinks with strategically placed basking stones.... But I do still have to pick them off everything after a rain...
Can someone clarify for me, is this just the chart that I can see in the pic in the original post? Are there any pages dedicated to explaining why certain plants are listed as good / not good together? Or, at least a reference list?
3 years ago
*Now accepting intern applications for the 2021 season (May 2-October 4, 2021 - 1 month minimum stay)! Email unadillacommunityfarm@gmail.com to apply.*

COVID Update: We were able to safely carry out our internship last season and host 25 interns throughout the pandemic, by implementing a number of safety protocols. Interns are required to quarantine for 2 weeks prior to arrival, and upon arrival, to have their temperature checked using a non-contact thermometer. At the farm, we all quarantine on-site together.

Unadilla Community Farm is a non-profit off-grid solar-powered education center following the principles of organic agriculture, regenerative agroforestry, and permaculture design. Unadilla Community Farm was founded in 2014 by a group of WWOOFers (volunteers working on organic farms) dedicated to the goals of the back-to-the-land movement. We are situated on 12 acres of field and forest, located alongside a growing Amish community, in central New York State. Our mission is to provide a space for the teaching and practice of sustainable skills.

2021 will be our 8th season hosting interns for our beginning farmer training program. This seasonal accredited internship has attracted interns from North & South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and New Zealand. University students in the U.S. & abroad have earned course credits for our internship program (ask your advisor if you are eligible to earn credit too!). Interns gain hands-on experience in no-till farming, regenerative agroforestry, permaculture design, natural building, and food preservation. We also run a weekly veggie box delivery program, from June to October, providing fresh, seasonal, organically-grown fruits and veggies on a sliding scale to Edmeston families in a USDA low-income, low-access rural food desert.

As a center for sustainable education, we showcase a wide range of regenerative agroforestry techniques aimed at increasing agriculture’s capacity for carbon sequestration, soil building, and ecosystem stewardship. In 2020, we were accepted into USDA's Conservation Stewardship Program. We teach a diversity of USDA recommended conservation practices, such as rainwater collection, multi-story and alley cropping, no-till management, wildlife habitat planting, mulching, on-site composting, crop rotation, and high tunnels. We are now showcasing 200+ varieties of organic annual and perennial vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, fruits, nuts, and berries.

We are using natural building methods, as well as local and salvaged materials, to construct our farm’s infrastructure. Our completed projects include a skoolie (converted school bus), chicken tractor, high tunnel, and an off-grid tiny home with solar panels, rainwater collection, and wood-burning stove. We are in the process of completing a traditional New England timber framed barn on a rammed tire “Earthship” foundation and a 4-season skoolie.

Our internship is more than just a beginning farmer training program. It is an immersion into a rural, sustainable way of life. We are seeking interns interested in disconnecting from the mainstream, learning to support ourselves by growing our own organic produce, utilizing natural building methods to construct our barn and dwelling structures, making our own household products like soap and shampoo, reviving traditional agricultural and lifestyle practices, and living in community.

At the completion of the program, participants will have familiarity with tasks such as: no-till bed preparation, seeding, transplanting, weeding, irrigation, pruning, trellising, integrated pest management, plant propagation, composting, seed saving, mulching, food preservation, use of hand and power tools, timber framing, stone masonry, raising layer hens, and harvesting methods for many types of crops.

Projects for the 2021 season include:
*On-farm research project to test nutrient levels of dynamic accumulators, including producing liquid fertilizers and nutrient-rich mulches, thanks to a Northeast SARE farmer grant
*Build a second solar dehydrator to expand our capacity for drying herbs
*Build 2 timber framed wood sheds
*Build windows and doors for the timber-framed barn
*Build raised beds
*Expand our edible food forest with additional fruit and nut trees, berries, and beneficial companion plants

Beyond providing training in sustainable farming and natural building to prepare interns for careers in food and farming or self-sufficient homesteading, our program is also an opportunity for students and young people to practice interpersonal skills that can be applied to any type of workplace or community living, such as: time management; communication; organization; leadership; listening; and teamwork/collaboration. Participants will also learn concepts such as: food safety basics; introductory marketing strategies; permaculture design; crop rotation; grassroots organizing; and starting & funding food/farming businesses.

On Wednesdays, we hold "Open Night," a weekly opportunity for interns to teach and share with their peers. Wednesday open nights have taken many forms, such as poetry readings, story-telling, project presentations, and skill-sharing.

On Saturdays starting in mid-June, we run our veggie box delivery program, providing fresh, organic produce to Edmeston families. Interns participate in all aspects of the program, from production to harvesting to the wash and pack station, to gain experience in operating a "CSA-style" farm model.

On Sundays, we host free weekly on-site classes and workshops, on topics such as permaculture design, natural building, soap making, foraging/wildcrafting, gourd crafting, food preservation, mushroom cultivation, agroforestry and food forest design, grassroots organizing, starting and funding a farm, and more.

Due to COVID-19, we have replaced monthly field trips with free virtual workshops with partner organizations throughout the season, on topics such as herbalism, native plants, and farm marketing.

Thanks to the generous support of our donors, our program covers all intern expenses including room & board, daily on-site training, and weekly classes/workshops, so the program is available at no cost to participants.
So I've been planting and using dynamic accumulators for years, even teaching our farm's interns about them. Our favorite is making comfrey purin in a big 275-gal tank and fertigating the orchard with it. But this past fall, I suddenly got a desire to "look under the hood" so to speak. What exactly is the nutrient content of these plants? And lo and behold, as I know many of you are already aware, there has not been sufficient study of these plants to know for certain what's going on here.

At first this revelation made me despair. I was about to walk back all the claims I had previously made about dynamic accumulators. But then I remembered my training: in permaculture, there are no negatives. Only missed opportunities! Six months later, our farm has been awarded a research grant to study dynamic accumulators over the next two years.

We just finished Phase One of our research, and published our results on the web through the Permaculture Research Institute: https://www.permaculturenews.org/2020/03/30/breaking-ground-with-dynamic-accumulators/

In addition to summarizing the current state of affairs regarding DAs and the research we're doing, that article contains a couple of useful links. First of all, we did some serious investigation this winter and put together a list of over 100 species that practitioners around the world have reportedly used for dynamic accumulation. Big thanks to everyone here at Permies for contributing to lists on this forum. You can see our mega-list by following the link halfway down the article. If you think that we missed something, please PM me and I'll update the list.

Second of all (and this part was definitely less fun), we actually did the much-talked-about analysis of Dr. Duke's Databases, which compile all of the peer-reviewed studies known to the USDA on the nutrient content of plant tissue samples. There are a LOT of entries in there. We downloaded the whole thing, entered it all into a functional spreadsheet, and ran some numbers. We determined a baseline average for each nutrient value, and then determined threshold values that plants need to demonstrate to qualify as a dynamic accumulator. In a nutshell, a plant needs to possess over twice as much of a given nutrient compared to the average to qualify. That limits the number of dynamic accumulators to the top 10% of plants we have data for. The article I linked to above also links to the full analysis of Dr. Duke's Databases if you'd like to take a look.

The article also links to a short list of proposed dynamic accumulators that fall on BOTH lists. That's plants that both 1) are currently being used for dynamic accumulation AND 2) we can verify through plant tissue analysis that they really do possess very high levels of certain nutrients!

The next step in our research is to perform on-farm trials with six of the most promising species (in my mind at least). We wanted low-maintenance, perennial or self-seeding, cold hardy plants (our farm is in Zone 4, Northeast United States) that show up on both of the lists I described above. So we'll be studying red clover, redroot amaranth, lambsquarters, stinging nettle, dandelion, and Bocking-14 comfrey. We'll be growing test plots of these plants and tracking the nutrient content of the soil (to see if they're really "mining" for minerals deep underground, or just robbing the topsoil), and also measuring nutrient values in the plant tissue, soil mulched with the plant tissue, and liquid fertilizers made from the plant tissue.

Thanks for reading, and please let me know your thoughts! I'll post any research updates to this thread.
4 years ago