Creating York, PA’s First Food Forest Farm!

Hi! I’m Eleanor Justice, an offbeat blueberry farmer and designer creating an art-filled food forest farm in York, Pennsylvania. I know, right? Nifty!

BBG_EJ_V_chicken-uni-pic10The original goal was to save the blueberry farm on which I live, but my fundraising efforts fell short of the amount required to purchase the farm.

Life (and death) have thrown a few curveballs my way this summer.  Between my mom passing away suddenly, my partner and I ending a 9-year relationship, and having to create a new vocation and find a place to live, things have been a bit overwhelming. It was looking for a bit like my long-held dream was going to have to go back into the closet. (Noooo!)

Fortunately, the fine folks at Spoutwood Farm, home of the annual Faerie Festival, have agreed to let me create a smaller version of my original vision on their gorgeous farm. Yay!

All contributions to my Fundly campaign will be used to create the food forest on Spoutwood land. It’ll take a while, but with the help of a bunch of fabulous folks, I’m creating York, PA’s first food forest on a beautiful farm.

Here’s part of the story on HuffingtonPost, and just for fun, here’s me as #5 in the Walter Mitty Movie Frame 25 Project.

22 thoughts on “Creating York, PA’s First Food Forest Farm!

    • Hi Christy — we’re in York, PA, and blueberry season starts this year on June 28th at 7am. Until we’ve been able to purchase the farm, at which point we’ll be instituting the gift economy model of business, pick-your-own blueberries are $3 per pound. Early in the season berries are huge and easy to pick, but the season usually continues into August, with berries getting smaller, more intense, and it takes longer to fill a bucket.

      The farm is Ravens Blueberry Farm, and I hope you’re able to come out — we grow the berries with love, and they’re pretty wonderful!

      Walk in Beauty,
      Eleanor

  1. I recently visited your farm with my 5 year old daughter. The farm is very cool! I love how the bushes are in rows and surrounded by trees, very Zen like and calm. We were perplexed on how to go about picking the blueberries. The house down the path seemed like the obvious place to start, but no one was there. I assumed it was on the honor system and we figured it out. Perhaps more guided instructions to those who aren’t familiar with how your operation works? Otherwise, It was the coolest place I ever picked berries at! I tipped well, I hope you can keep this farm so my daughter and I can have this place to come to for many years to come!

    • Hi Nancy!

      Oh that is a hoot! And yes, I can, although I also highly recommend checking out Sacred Economics, which you can order on Amazon or red as a gift on Charles Eisenstein’s website http://charleseisenstein.net/

      Essentially, a gift economy is one where something of value is given as a gift, without expectation of something specific in return.

      So for example, in the case of the gift economy farm we’re creating, we will be offering the crops we grow to people as an actual gift. Something we do because we love to do it, and share with people because we love the feeling of being able to share, and we believe that what we’re doing — and how we’re doing it — is something that makes the world a little better

      There won’t be any price lists. We may keep the vintage scale because kids love to compare their berry-picking prowess with one another and the ritual of weighing the berries is so much fun for a lot of folks.

      But instead of there being a requirement to match up the amount of berries (or other crops we grow) with a specific amount of money — or even money at all — we will have a box that people can put gifts in, as it feels good to them.

      Because purchasing the farm through crowdfunding and growing food in sustainable food forests — polycultures that support and sustain themselves without irrigating, fertilizing, or much maintenance at all — means that our overhead will be extraordinarily low, and we will be *able* to operate the farm on a gift economy.

      I know a lot of folks who would *like* to do what they love and share it with people simply because they love to do it, but are saddled with enormous overheads that make it virtually impossible to make joy or generosity their top business priorities.

      The personal “crisis” of the farm on which we both live and work going up for sale is actually a unique opportunity to build an amazing food forest farm run on a gift economy and not only raise awareness about innovative agricultural and economic practices, but also an opportunity to have a positive impact on the entire community.

      Also, you know, the whole this is our dream come true thing is pretty fabulous as well.

      Anyhoo! I hope I at least started to answer your question! I highly recommend checking out Charles Eisenstein’s various talk on YouTube, as well as Nipun Mehta, the founder of service space, and John Halcyon Styn’s various HugNation broadcast (and TED talk) that discuss gifting and gift economies. It’s really exciting, and there’s an infinite variety of applications of this style of sharing.

      Thanks so much for your support!
      :> Eleanor

  2. Just read your article in this morning’s paper. To help with labor maybe you should consider becoming members of the world organization of organic farming (woof). My sister spent a year or two as a woofer on farms in Portugal. The last I looked there were a few local farms participating which you could contact for their personal experience. Meanwhile I hope to come up to your farm sometime this week to meet you and pick some blueberries. Richelle

    • Hi Richelle!

      Yes! We *definitely* plan to host wwoofers when we’ve saved the farm! Currently, as caretakers, that’s outside of our ability but it’s such a wonderful opportunity for everyone involved that we’re really looking forward to it. And yay, come on up! The blueberries are starting to thin out but if you’re persistent you can still gather a good amount, and still more are ripening. I hope that I’m at the stand when you come up — one of us is pretty much always on the farm, but it’s a big place, and with the campaign and media bits going on, I’m back and forth to the stand with more frequency than before but here’s to serendipity!

      :> Eleanor

  3. Just kicked in a small contribution from Sydney, Australia, and you’re right – it does feel good. I might not ever make it to the farm but I really wish you both all the luck and good seasons in the world.

  4. Your story gave me hope that my own project will soon provide a path out of my dead-end job. What, if any, types of fruits and veggies do you have available for picking in fall? Sounds like a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

    • Hi Jennifer! I’m so glad! I look forward to a reality in which *everyone* is filling their hours with work that is meaningful and fulfilling to them.
      Here’s hoping you’re engaged in heart-based livelihood soon!

      Until we’ve purchased the farm, it remains a blueberry-only operation, which means picking from the end of June through the beginning of August (such a brief window!)

      Until then, there are a whole bunch of wonderful local farms around York — you can find some of them at http://www.BuyFreshBuyLocalYork.com, and I believe there are some yard shares starting up locally as well.

  5. Hi, Eleanor and Vanessa. I discovered your lovely blueberry farm last year and came to pick a couple times. Will you have blueberries again this year? I do hope so!

    • Yes, we sure will — with the long winter, blueberry season is starting late this year and we guesstimate that 4th of july weekend will *probably* be our opening date (but we have to confirm this with the owner before we can “officially” announce it :>)

  6. My Husband and I picked blueberries there last year. They were wonderful and so was the farm. (We also got entertained a bit with seeing a mother and fawn not far from us). We most definitely intend to visit and pick blueberries again this year! We’re looking so forward to it! I’m so thrilled that we’ll be able to come and do this again this year. Warmest thoughts and wishes to both of you.

  7. Glad you are still hanging in there and look forward to visiting when the blueberries are ready. The berries I picked there last year were the best and I still have a few in the freezer.

  8. Fantastic Blueberries! Can’t wait for opening day. Is the earliest date to begin, July 4th 2014? I’ll be there ready to go!

  9. Yay! I have picked blueberies at the farm for years with friends and my family. So very glad to know the farm is continuing & love hearing about your plans! See you soon!! Gail & Marcus Sheffer, Wellsville

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