Jess Baker

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since Aug 04, 2021
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Alvord Desert, Oregon. Zone: 6b
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Recent posts by Jess Baker

Seeking Interns for Rewarding High Desert Homestead Experience.
Are you passionate about regenerative agriculture and eager to learn hands-on in a unique environment? My wife and I invite you to join us for a transformative internship/work stay this spring on our high desert homestead.

Our Homestead:
* Located near the stunning Alvord Desert, offering breathtaking views and a sense of vastness.
* 160 acres of sagebrush rangeland, carefully managed and fenced for the past 25 years, promoting natural restoration.
* Blessed with an artesian well for irrigation and a shallow water table, remnants of the Alvord's ancient lake past.
* Excellent 3-5° slope for earthworks

Our Successes:
* Thriving native plantings.
* Effective composting systems.
* Water-harvesting swales for maximum snow and rain capture.
* Flourishing tree plantings with careful mulching.

The Internship Experience:
* Contribute to daily homestead chores, animal care, and ongoing earthwork projects.
* Immerse yourself in permaculture practices like gardening, planting, soil building, and compost management.
* Learn and apply desert-specific techniques for water conservation and land restoration.
* Ideal candidates are self-starters with a strong work ethic and willingness to embrace the challenges and rewards of remote, off-grid desert life.

Currently we welcome interns with their own off-grid living setup (RV, bus, tent) as well as power, Internet and water as needed. In addition you'll enjoy a share of any food grown, an endless amount of knowledge.

The Rewards:
* Gain invaluable experience working in a unique and challenging high desert ecosystem.
* Deepen your understanding of permaculture, arid environments and regenerative techniques.
* Become part of a community dedicated to land restoration and sustainable living.
* Experience the breathtaking beauty and solitude of the Alvord Desert.

If this resonates with you, please contact us with your experience, goals for the internship, and availability. Let's create a mutually beneficial learning experience!
3 months ago
I know it's been awhile but are you still seeking a space in eastern Oregon? If so, we might have a spot for you! DM me if you're still looking.
3 months ago
Hey Cliff, we have a 160acre permaculture homestead located in far SE Oregon, on the Alvord desert at the base of the Steens mountain. My wife and I have been seeking the right person to join our little homestead. We are extremely rural (2hrs to nearest city) and are working on doing all we can to as sustainable as possible. This is a safe space that all are welcome, if this at all sounds interesting send me a DM and we can talk specifics.

1 year ago
Hello all,

Recently purchased a large piece of land (160 acres) that over time we hope to restore, build soils, soak and store the little rain water and run off we receive per year (Average 7in annually)

The land in red surrounding the house is irrigated with sprinklers. The area in green is actually sub irrigated by underground water canals (this area is geothermal). It never needs water, even in the summer. I want to add swales to both these areas to help slow the water we have coming in and increase water storage as well as start my food forest on the red areas around the yard by continuing the expand on the trees we already have around the house. on contour is where I had planned each swale.

In the more densely sage brush wilderness areas the soil shows signs of clear erosion and run off.

Just looking for a little insight on swale depth and width, or maybe even an alternative for the desert climate!

2 years ago
This area has seen some really increased traffic over the years and due top Covid, 2020 was record. Its actually why the seller decided to move. Alvord hosts all types of large gatherings. There is usually a rave happening during the summer weekends but things calm down as the seasons change. We have actually taken it upon ourselves to talk with BLM about some more management out here. The playa is getting beaten up by the increased travel. We will do what we can, our property line actually extends into the playa so it makes things a little more interesting... The trees that are here on the property have taken hold very well. We host a few apple, peach, cherry, apricot, and plum. As well as some, Ash, Aspen, Maple, and Black Locust. These species are doing very well in this environment and other locals have had luck with planting biggest issues being lack of organic matter in the soils. I can walk my yard and one spot its sandy nothing and 5 feet away down slop  we have growth, trees, grass and other native species its far more fertile. This soil just needs some love, its wants to thrive and live. These range lands have been over grazed and striped of there nutrients. All they need is a permie to come in! :D

Its just a touch Alkaline ;)
2 years ago
Hey Dave, would love any lessons learned!

Yeah we get ton of wildlife, we are actually in migration pattern for many of the birds in the Great Basin and Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. I have seen large cranes fishing in the pond. Lots of native birds, raptors, etc I would love to provide a way point for those animals, stop and take a drink and grab some berries. Our neighbors were complaining they eat all their raspberries, I thought to myself, plant more then! We can share the bounty! I have seen very few bats, but they are around. Bat boxes are on the menu! The mosquitos are terrible haha

Yes I have been doing that, learning all the plants and watching their interactions with nature. The property actually has a fault line that runs through it, native trees and shrubs spring from it with vigor! I suspect the ground water is finding it way closer to the surface in these areas. Soils are a bit Alkaline

2 years ago
Thank you Stacie, We are so glad we found you all.
2 years ago
I think many this day and age ask themselves, what can I do? I know I’ve asked myself this question many times over the years. I vote, I volunteer, I donate, I do what I can for my local communities…but I wanted to do more. More for me, more for us, more for you, more for this mother earth and more for the future generations of this planet, so they don’t have to live on the dry and dusty rock ball we are headed for. The world and planet are changing, there is no question about that. So the bigger question is, what can I do?

I’m going to tell you a story, about how we found permaculture, What I believe is the answer to life and all its riddles.

Like the start to a lot of recent stories, Covid pushed many out of their comfort zones, but we decided to push further than we could have dreamed. Hi, my name is Jesse (37), and my fiancé Kristin (38) and in 2020 we decided to sell our small 2-acre farm outside of Portland, OR and make a bigger change in life. We had some experience on our little farm, grew many of our veggies, raised chickens, eggs, small herd of milk goats, and the occasional cow would find its way into the pasture (Kristin LOVES cows). Looking back, we could have done so much more with that property, but we ultimately were not happy in the location and living in a 1920s home really had its own challenges. We wanted to focus our efforts in other productive ways. So, we decided to look for some land in Eastern Oregon, a place we have always found ourselves drawn to whenever we go camping and exploring. Someplace to plant some roots. The high desert does something to your soul. Plus, we were just tired of all the winter rain!

As the year went on, we paid off all debt, cleared the clutter from our lives, physically and mentally. You see our goal here was to move once and only once. Invest in ourselves and retire early. So, we searched and searched. As the year progressed it got harder and harder to find land (we were looking for 50+ acres), even more so with a decent house. A place to start the rest of our lives. In November of 2020, we found it, but it wasn’t going to be an easy task. Selling a home and buying is never fun. Its stressful, exhausting, and tests your patience to the ends. Ours was tested…. continentally. One day, camped out in a friend’s yard... waiting for final appraisal on our new property. Kristin tells me about this “Permaculture Summit” and it’s starting today. “Let’s do it”, I said. “I need something to listen to while I work”. So, we watched and learned…our eyes opened, a little wider with each speaker, Food Forests, Swales, Water management and so much more. We had already planned to expand our garden and grow our own food, but this just exploded with ways to grow more, give more, take in more CO2, restore the dry arid desert soils and provide.

This is the only answer to the world’s problems, and I am going to do something to give back to my planet, with the hopes that my little life raft will take care of us as we do her.  

So how about this property? Most of our friends didn’t even remotely understand our interest in this property, to them it is filled with sagebrush, dusty, dry desert, 2hrs from any major services (Hospital, Groceries). It’s funny how people look at things and the basis the put on them. Frankly we are glad no one else saw what we did or else we would not be here today.  We moved in on May 6th and we will never leave. 160 acres located in the SE corner of Oregon, one of the most remote places in the state and has the darkest skies in the US. The Alvord Desert.

If you have been here, you know what it's like and likely cannot even begin to explain the feeling this place brings. It's silence and clarity. More need to experience this place. For those around the world, Alvord is a dry lake bed roughly 12miles long and 7 miles wide. Being in the rain shadow of the Steens Mountain range causes a very mild and dry climate, we receive over 300 days of sunshine and only 7in of rain annually. Most of the property is sagebrush and other native plants, its needs serious help! Native grasses grow towards the edge of the property that touches the Alvord. During my observations, the water is literally running off the property, so it makes sense why more grasses are growing downhill. Around the house is where it gets exciting though. There is LIFE! So many trees have been planted. Fruit, shrubs, Nitrogen fixing Black locust, maple, Ash, Aspen, so much more native grasses. The previous owner was on to something…she just didn’t know what. Our water is provided by an artisan well @ 145’. Instead of pumping it’s just bubbles to the surface, it also has a byproduct…our Pond. Currently stocked with goldfish, its roughly 30ftx30ftx4ft and year around. I'd like to learn how to expand this in the future! How did we find this life giving treasure in the middle of the desert, we don’t know, but we are meant to be here.

We know this journey is just getting started and there is much work to be done but when it’s the right work, it's worth doing. I am happy to have found my people, my tribe. I am humbled to give back this ancient land and just be happy, centered and balanced.

It's so nice to finally meet you all! I look forward to this journey, together.

2 years ago
Hello everyone, new to permaculture!

My fiancé and I recently purchased 160 acres in a remote corner of SE Oregon! Want to build our desert food forest and challenge people to think differently!

We are just getting started on our property, first is to get more self reliant and get a garden going! Soils need tons of organic matter! We brought in a few cows and chickens for rotational grazing and biomass!

So much to learn and do!
2 years ago