When I first had the opportunity to buy the farm last year, I quickly called all my friends with whom I have worked on environmental projects in the past to see if they would like to use my farm as a living laboratory for innovative earth friendly agricultural and eco-art projects. First on my list were Charlotte Dion and Elizabeth Marcus. Charlotte runs the North Shore Permaculture Meetup and was a consultant on permaculture projects at the New Eden Collaborative of First Parish Church, Newbury and the Green Artists League's Alchemical Garden on the Clipper City Rail Trail. Elizabeth Marcus is one of the leaders of Transition Newburyport and involved in numerous other environmental groups. She has completed her permaculture certification course and has created several demonstration permaculture plots in the Greater Newburyport area including sun and shade permaculture plots at the New Eden Collaborative Community Garden. Charlotte and Elizabeth were delighted to design a permaculture system on a small-farm scale. Permaculture in a holistic approach to farm design where all aspects of the farm are seen as interacting with other elements of the farm and each element should serve multiple purposes. There is also an emphasis on perennial plantings as they use less resources and are kinder to the environment. Charlotte, Elizabeth, and I spent this winter researching and pouring over catalogs to buy our first batch of perennial plantings including asparagus, strawberries, ostrich ferns (fiddle heads) and horseradish and few of the native North American fruit trees, American Persimmon, Medlar, Quince and Paw Paw. The three of us are also getting to know the farm's eco-systems by studying the wild plants that thrive in different parts of the farm due to kinds of soil, sun and water conditions and the wild life, including insects and other small critters that thrive here. As all artists know, creativity comes through limitations. While New Harmony is blessed with rich, river-bottom soil, this mineral rich soil comes at a price. Parts of our farm flood in the spring if there is a heavy snow melt and after sustained heavy rains. We are designing the farm to accommodate the periodic inundation of areas of the farm through the careful design of the farm's infrastructure, farming methods, and crop choices. As part of our infrastructure we are constructing "Mini" barns that are raised off the ground and light enough not to sink into the soft, silty soil, and farm practices such as the use of raised crop beds so that our crops thrive through periods of drought and heavy rain that are forecasted for New England as part of climate change. We are also exploring perennial and annual crops that will thrive in these conditions. I'm super excited to see how New Harmony will evolve over the next few years. Stay tuned!

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