“For nearly two decades, my dream has been to create an experiential education space, a mentorship for pottery with a focus on permaculture,” says Careen Stoll. “As a potter, the farm-to-table supper club movement is a natural fit. I’ve built innovative carbon-neutral kilns at various places around the country, and I care about ethics in food production.”
The Stolls’ 23-acre Jackrabbit Farm undulates up a southwest-facing hillside in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains approximately seven miles due east of Kalama. Bounded by the east and west branches of Dee Creek, half of the 22 wooded acres are ten-year-old Douglas-fir and alder forest that is regenerating following clearcut harvesting by the previous owner. The other half is comprised of a maturing mixed hardwood conifer forest that serves as an extensive riparian buffer along either side of Dee Creek.
Part of the long-term vision for Jackrabbit Farm is to create and manage a sustainable woodland environment that embraces agroforestry and permaculture practices, and serves as an educational demonstration forest that connects elements of nature and culture. As Careen explains, “I want to make sure that the learning is not just school buses of (delightful) elementary school kids in the woods, but us listening humbly to indigenous elders and other keepers of wisdom, as we find a path into a future that may deeply need reference points for regenerative agriculture.”
Careen and her partner Joel are considering many different ways to integrate a “food forest” system into their forest. One approach to doing this is to observe the native edible plants within the riparian forest to determine which species naturally thrive there, then plant and cultivate similar species that have more desirable characteristics (e.g. larger berries) or are more productive. Extending this strategy, desirable native species that naturally occur within riparian areas, such as huckleberry, devils club, or willow, can be integrated into a management plan for the cultivation and production of non-timber forest products, as can growing edible and medicinal mushrooms on alder stumps.
Along the edge of the site of the Stolls’ future home, the prevailing winds and misty breezes sweeping across this open space demonstrated the need for a hedgerow – another agroforestry system that employs multi-use plant species in several layers to produce a thick effective windbreak.
An effective hedgerow for this site could include, as its highest layer, a row of semi-dwarf apple trees that are inter-planted with filberts and sea buckthorn. Gooseberries and roses can comprise the shrub layer beneath the apples, and perennial medicinal and culinary herbs may lie amid a ground cover of nitrogen-fixing clover.
By integrating wildlife forage and pollinator habitat into the design, the Environmental Quality
Incentives Program (EQIP) could be a source of financial support for this productive and economically diverse windbreak and hedgerow.
Learn more about Jackrabbit Farm, including the owners' plans for silvopasture and building a net-zero energy dream house, in the full blog article
by Kelly Smith, NNRG Volunteer.