We are passionate about environmental restoration and biodiversity and are working with our land to control invasive non-native weeds by strategic planting of perennial native and other food plants to produce food and create bird and pollinator habitat. We are really excited about a new project that we have started this year to re-introduce american chestnuts in our woods using blight-resistant american chestnuts. We also have a small veggie garden for our own use.
We are also working on restoring farm buildings and are very interested in alternative energy and green building, so try and incorporate these principles into our projects and love to learn about this from any visitors who happen to have skills or experience in this area.
We are about 1.5 hours from Philadelphia, in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania. Jeff has a background in land preservation, and in his spare time is a photographer, plays guitar, volunteers for a new farmer development program and for our local environmental advisory council and loves to forage for wild edibles. Nitya has travelled a lot, loves working with plants and animals, building things, cooking and learning new things (currently learning latin names of US and Australian native plants!). We both enjoy travelling and hosting travellers, and outdoor activities like hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing.
Our minimum stay is usually a week, however we do occasionally welcome workawayers for a day or a weekend depending on our schedule. And people who have spent time with us before are always welcome to return. At certain times of the year we do give preference to people looking for a longer stay as although we enjoy the energy and enthusiasm that each new visitor brings, we find that there is a sense of collaboration and teamwork that comes from a deeper understanding of the farm and the activities here that visitors develop when they stay for a longer period. Our experience has been that most people also find that a longer stay is more rewarding for similar reasons. We occasionally host visitors with canine companions, however we do have a cat, so this only works with cat-friendly dogs. We do expect doggie workawayers to be on groundhog and deer patrol!
Sorry, but nightowls who sleep late don't fit into our household routine so if you are a late sleeper, this is not the place for you. For younger people, especially if you are travelling on your own, please note that we are in our fifties and there are not a lot of young people in our immediate neighborhood. If you don't have your own transportation, you will also be dependent on us to go places unless you like VERY long bike rides (and its uphill all the way back!). There are times when we have two or three visitors here at the same time, so if you need a lot of company your own age, and lots of social activities, let us know when you contact us so we can schedule your visit for an appropriate time. Some people are looking for quite time, so if you are happy with you own company, or you need time to work on a project or study or write or play/practice music let us know that too.
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
Please keep in mind that as most people stay for a relatively short time you are likely to only see/do a small part of what we are working on here. So if there is something that you are particularly interested in, please let us know. If you are interested in learning about growing/foraging for food, the best times to come are spring, summer and fall.
There are opportunities to visit other farms in the area, and depending on when you come there may also be workshops and field days in this region related to organic farming and rural living skills. We also have an extensive library of farming, gardening, philosophy, spirituality and sustainability-related books that you can browse and read during your stay.
We speak English and Nitya speaks a smattering of Hindi, and is working on learning French, so if you speak French she would love to learn from and practice with you, and we are also happy to help you with your English if you are learning.
We are working on restoring farm buildings and our house so folks with renovation experience and skills are particularly welcome and we can also share our skills and experience in this area. What we are working on when you visit will depend on the weather and time of year and current priorities so if there is something that you are particularly interested in working on or learning please let us know.
Aside from building projects, we are working on developing and maintaining plantings around the farm, re-configuring our house vegetable garden to include trial areas for native perennials, creating a new orchard/veggie garden area and trialling various weed/invasive plant control strategies, and also our new american chestnut project. Tasks around these projects include strategic weeding, mulching, terracing with rock walls, brush clearing (we process this into mulch and hugels mounds), creating and maintaining protection strategies for new plants, planting, watering if needed . . . . .
We enjoy sharing the day to day tasks and skills of rural living and our love of the natural world, and value the skills, knowledge and perspectives that we learn from you - there are many things around our place that are there or that we do because of a suggestion from one of our visitors so we value your input, whether you have had experience with rural living or not.
English, a very small smattering of French and Hindi
We have plenty of space for folks with a tent or camper (when the weather is warm enough for camping!), and our guest room may also be available depending on time of year and who else is staying here. Our guest room is small, so while we can accommodate an individual or couple, we can generally only host families of more than two people who have their own accommodation (tent, camper etc).
We are in a very out-of-the-way, peaceful location and yet only a 10 minute drive to local towns and highways. There are lots of quiet country roads for walking and cycling (we have bikes that you can borrow if you enjoy cycling) and we are surrounded by woods with lots of wildlife and birds, and we have a very active arts and music community in the area with lots of music events, art galleries and studios, as well as interesting historical sites and museums. Lancaster county, Hawk Mountain, the Poconos and the Delaware River are all easy day trips from here.
We enjoy taking advantage of these great resources and you are welcome to join us, or to explore on your own depending on what you prefer - we are happy to cover gas, tolls etc, but we appreciate if you pay for your own meals, snacks, drinks, entrance fees etc on outings. There is a lovely swimming hole nearby - on a hot day we often go for a swim and then go for ice cream at the dairy!
There is public transport to Allentown from NY City, to Quakertown from Philadelphia, or to Reading from points further west, and we can pick someone up from any of these bus stations.
Please keep in mind that a lot of rural areas in the US have a problem with ticks and lyme disease at certain times of the year. Some precautions you can take to minimise the likliehood of being bitten by ticks include wearing long rubber boots in the field, strategic use of insect repellant, inspecting yourself all over for ticks when you come inside after being in the field or woods, or after going for a hike. Biting gnats/midges can also be an issue for some people in late summer/early fall - fine fly nets and insect repellant work well for them.
If you have allergy issues, please note that we do have a cat in the house, and there are certain times of the year when pollen and other seasonal factors may affect you. If you are allergic to cats this may not be the right place for you, or you may find that camping is a better option than sleeping in the house.
We are omnivores but can usually accommodate lacto-ovo vegetarians if you don't mind cooking your own meal when we are eating a meat-based meal. When you contact us, please be sure to include a phone number, and some information about yourself - what your interests are, previous farm experience, relevant skills, what you hope to learn etc. Thanks.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
flexible timing (mostly dependent on weather), around 20hrs/wk, weekends are usually quiet and are a good time to take some time to explore, take a trip to Philly or NYC etc.