Non-profit sustainability and homestead projects at our chestnut and blueberry farm in Loudonville, USA


United States


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  • Description


    My identical twin 5 year-old boys, my 7 year-old son, and I live together in a farmhouse on our farm. We are surrounded by orchards of chestnut trees and our blueberry patch. Every year we've been planting up acres of chestnut trees, grown from the seeds of what we deem to be our best trees and the best trees in the world. It's very exciting! We live in a world where we are generally forced to accept that there are many mouths to feed and calories needed to be produced by a style of agriculture that is destructive to land, air, and ecosystems. However, chestnuts are an exception. As a forest crop, they build up the soil, and don't require a lot of fertilization, spraying, or tearing up the land. Furthermore, they take carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into firewood, oxygen, and of course thousands of pounds of tasty nuts that are very good for you, being high in nutrients and low in fat, being similar to a grain in their composition and potential.

    A little over a hundred years ago, there were 2 American chestnut trees for every person alive on the planet. Enough to fill Yellowstone nation park 8 times over. 1 in 4 trees on the Eastern seaboard was a chestnut. These were virtually all wiped out by a fungus. Now, most Americans don't even know what one is, even though we live in what was once the heartland of the chestnut. They are amazing trees that produce a great food and forest ecosystem, home to birds, mushrooms, wildflowers, bees, etc. Chestnut production is in its infancy in America, and we are living in an exciting time when we're figuring out how to make it work and grow. It's an edifying and promising vision, and we invite you to be part of it.

    We also have 5 acres of blueberries and some other stuff for fun, like chickens and a garden, and we dabble in pole beans, roses, grapes, hops, pecans, hazelnuts, butternuts, paw paws, hardy kiwi, mushrooms, bees, elderberries, strawberries, plums, and apples.

    2022 should be an exciting year. In the spring, we’ll be planting about 2,900 more chestnut trees that will be part of our ongoing genetic program. We’ll be trying a new harvesting system with the chestnuts, and I hope to create some prototypes for some invention ideas I have for chestnut production. We’ve been using microbiology more these past few years and experimenting with ecofriendly pest control measures, and I would love to continue and expand our progress there. We are also partnering with a local monastery and tending to 10 acres of chestnut trees (also part of the genetic program) for the monks. It's easily within biking distance, and there'll occasionally be work to be done there.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Art Projects
    Language practice
    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Animal Care
    Farmstay help
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance

  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    There's no question that growing things makes you a stronger, smarter, and more well-rounded person. There are many tasks where you can have peaceful time to think or meditate as you help, or to go through a lot of portable media. It can be like staring into the infinite. You are a cog that keeps many wheels turning…

    On the more social side, our farm has always been blessed with wonderful and diverse people coming to work and visit. There are a lot of laid-back and honest, yet intelligent folks who find their way here, and befriending and talking to them surely adds to the richness and experience of life. Ashland county Ohio is a beautiful area, and home to the nicest folks. There are highly varied and lively Amish communities around here, and it's common to meet them on our farm during blueberry and chestnut seasons. They range from the stoic, dark-haired Swartzentroubers, who speak a thick Pennsylvania Dutch and work hard, to the elegant Hostetlers, with their booming mill and log home businesses. I can show you the etiquette to use among the different sects. Especially during the harvest seasons on our farm, you really meet all kinds of people from many walks of life, open your mind to their joys and plights, and to make friends that you never could have anticipated.

    We’re eager to meet people through Workaway who are interested in taking part in the quest for knowledge that is such an integral part of our farm. I’d like to find people who are interested in the science, the engineering, improving management practices, and learning together with us how to farm better and more sustainably.

    At least during the chestnut season and soon afterward, there will be a lot of chestnuts around to experiment with culinary. They can be ground into flour and from there used to make all sorts of things, like bread, pasta, pancakes, pies, and even burgers. We're definitely still learning here what all you can do with them. It is my belief that tree crops, particularly chestnuts and hazelnuts, can largely replace commodity crops such as corn and soybeans that have a heavy environmental impact. It is my hope that through coming here and seeing what we're doing and working with the trees, learning to live in a more self-sufficient and community-sufficient manner with a smaller carbon footprint, we all may benefit.

  • Host offers payment in line with the minimum wage

    Host offers payment in line with the minimum wage

    This host offers accommodation and payment.

    Host has indicated that they will pay at least the minimum hourly wage of their country for each hour worked and that accommodation will also be provided. They are asking for help with a business or business activity. Contact the host directly via the site messenger for more information and details about the wage provided. Any arrangements should be agreed in advance with your host.

  • Help


    On our farm, we grow blueberries and chestnuts commercially, as well as a lot of other things for fun and sustenance. Though it'd be great to have help with the whole gamut of work to be done around the farm, what we need the most help with is getting in the chestnut harvest. This is a fun job that keeps you fit and flexible, both physically and mentally. It takes a lot of people to harvest the various orchards, so we're especially eager to find people who can dedicate themselves to the season, from late September to mid-October, and work with a small team of people to pick an area clean.

    In the offseason, there will still be work in the orchards planting trees, pruning and culling trees, mowing, picking up logs and chipping branches, grinding stumps, fertilizing, and more.

    Then there are the blueberries. There will be plenty of work to be done mulching, fertilizing, weeding, and picking, freezing, and selling berries. It'd be great to have help running the stand and taking berries to the farmers markets.

    On the side, there are a lot of other projects and chores around the farm, garden, and house that we could use help with. These could be tasks such as managing the compost piles, beekeeping, watering, tending to the chickens, hacking big weeds down with a machete, organizing in the barn, washing the dog that just got skunked, etc.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent
    German: Intermediate
    Spanish: Intermediate
    Italian: Intermediate
    Russian: Intermediate

    This host offers a language exchange
    This host has indicated that they are interested in sharing their own language or learning a new language.
    You can contact them directly for more information.

  • Accommodation


    We have plenty of room to camp on the farm, as well as 4 campers that you're welcome to stay in. Up in the loft of the barn there is also a somewhat furnished room with electricity and a closet where the microscope and telescope live. One or two people may also stay there. The blueberry stand is also like a little insulated cabin, equipped with a futon, wood stove, and upright piano. Someone may stay there as long as we're not open for blueberries. There is electricity and excellent water from the well. There is a makeshift kitchen in the barn with appliances and refrigerators. Just let us know what you need, and we'll do our best to accommodate.

    Travelers and interns really help us to make our various visions possible, keep our homestead running smoothly, allow us to delve into more permaculture, off-grid stuff, and research, and to still make the bottom line. We would like people to come here with the primary goals of learning and helping. We pay at least $10/hour for all work outside of the communal garden. During blueberry and chestnut harvests, one has the option of being paid by the pound or by the bucket. A healthy person hustling can usually expect make the equivalent of $15-$30/hour doing this, and the hours are unlimited. Of course, we'll have to keep it legal, so if you're coming from abroad, be sure to get the right kind of visa and all that if you need it.

    You will ultimately be responsible for acquiring your own food. That being said, our farm produces a lot of food, and we generally have a large communal garden. This year we're going to try a "Little Red Hen" policy, where workawayers may enjoy the produce of the garden as long as they spend some time helping to maintain it. Nobody is obligated to do this, but I believe that it will save anyone staying here time and money at the grocery store and facilitate a healthy diet. If you choose to do this, then you should think of it as our shared garden. We also always seem to have more eggs than we can eat, so you'd be welcome to help yourselves to eggs. We often have honey and mushrooms to share too. We often host communal dinners or do it potluck style. This seems to add to the cultural exchange and sense of community, plus it's fun. It's common for workawayers to pool together for meals and to share things like gallons of milk and bags of rice.

    There is a washer and dryer (though you are encouraged to hang clothes out to dry) at the farmhouse, and a wood-fired outdoor shower (which is capable of producing more scalding hot water than anyone could possibly need for a shower). Bathrooms are generally the outhouses, though there are a couple at the farmhouse as well. Wifi is at or near the farmhouse.

    This is not the lap of luxury. You would be living at or around the barn and spending most of your time outside and away from heaters and air-conditioning. It's rustic. Many people who've stayed here love it. If you like camping, then you'll probably do great. If you are a person who needs a shower every day, ironed linens, or a bidet, then this place probably isn't a good fit for you.

    Since firewood is a byproduct of a chestnut orchard, there are often campfires at night during the growing season. I also have a canoe and tackle that you may take out on the river or lakes if you wish, and some bikes that can be borrowed.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We live pretty close to Mohican State Park, as well as some rivers and lakes. Our area hosts a lot of canoeing, hiking, bike trails, and an outdoor adventure place with ziplines and climbing walls and that sort of thing. We have a couple cars, so you shouldn't have too much trouble arranging trips into town, nights out, grocery runs, etc. We have a canoe and tackle that may be borrowed, and a trailer to transport it with.

    In my opinion, you can find the best that the Midwest has to offer on and around our farm. The stars are really something too, as well as the views afforded by our elevation. Same goes for sunrises and sets.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    This host can provide space for campervans.

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    No cats.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    21 hours/week, or 3/day

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Accuracy of profile: (4.9)

Cultural exchange: (4.7)

Communication: (4.8)

Host ref number: 584179171285