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Published on Monday, August 12, 2013

The Farm is moving to...a farm?!

Expanding our offerings and increasing our focus.

Anyway, we're moving to a 40 acre farm about 2 miles past Deer Park. You may have seen the large red barn just past the sunflower fields in the Spokesman Review - the red barn with the horses on it just on the edge of the picture's horizon is our new place as of September 1st.  We are sad to have to let go of what we've been doing in town but we'll probably be so busy working on the next place over the next two years we'll forgot to mourn!  There is a lot to be done, a lot we can't do for a couple of years, and a lot we're thankful we don't even have to think about till then.


There is a really cool event center with bathrooms, a commercial kitchen, and (Phil's favorite) a commercial capacity septic system surrounded by more lawn than you can shake a stick at.  We'll be running this as a business to help pay for living there and making all the changes.  There is a second 1 bedroom cottage, an enormous shop, a 4 bedroom house (that's where we will live), a two story "something" we're calling a birdhouse that's being used to house birds but won't be by us, and a 120 foot horse barn on 7 acres we can start working with.  The rest of the space will have to wait until we are no longer leasing.  So, there's lots of opportunities all over for all kinds of events, and that's what we'll be doing on the business end. Weddings primarily but any event is definitely welcome and we'll have to have everyone out to the new place so the more Northern of us can catch a break on all that travel into town. ;-)


I posted a "walk around" on youtube to talk through our thoughts on the grounds I'll re-post for you.  Basically, we'll be moving our current greenhouse to its' new home behind the horse barn. We'll be hiring some goats to chew down all the scrub. We'll be sheet mulching the former outside stalls for spring planting, and we'll be looking into installing more greenhouses on the West end of the property along Spotted Road in the paddocks.  I will be good at winter harvesting come hell or high water!

There is an acre of edge we'll have to deal with as well.  While the field is nice to look at - wheat is pretty - it is not so pretty after harvest and we need a low wall to make that less obvious.  I'm thinking hardy hibiscus because they are consumable as a green or dried tea and they bloom in white, purples, and blue's from August to frost just when a lot of other perennials are at their worst. They will also serve as a low windbreak.  In front of them will probably go blanket flowers, daisies, low sunflowers, and large hosta's.  Behind them, I'd like to plant some of my hybrid poplars and hybrid willows as they make such nice shade and if I space them they won't block out all the sun but give everything a bit of relief from the summer heat. I'd also like to tuck in some of my herbaceous hibiscus - they can get six by six feet in a season but they bloom 10 to 12 inch blooms, again starting in August.  Mine have started here on the urban lot and they are just too cool!

To the West of all that is where I'd like to start the orchards. I'm thinking of mixing my various fruiting varieties up even though they are basically all from the same family of trees. Probably the best way to avoid insect pressure is through underplanting with beneficials and shrubs. I have had a lot of friends from the area say that I can kiss all my ornamentals good bye due to deer but no one seems to have tried Sepp Holzter's anti deer recipe here yet so it's on the list to make. 

With all of the sheet mulching we are also trying a newer product called Bokashi to help speed up the process. It works anaerobically instead of aerobically like compost. It's a Japanese combination of microorganisms that can turn clippings into compost much faster  - even things like human waste and animal slaughter products.  Mine should be arriving any day now and I'll let you know. It's been used to spray pig's and stalls to prevent infection and decrease odors and the Japanese have been very pleased so far. I figure it's worth giving it a good test here with the chickens and the compost.

As far as the homestead itself, there are some wasted bedding opportunities for zone 1 use.  I'll have to walk around a little more before I get inspired and tell you my thoughts there.

Ultimately, we're really hoping the goats will be effective on the West paddocks so we can try things like a massive pumpkin patch, some kind of interesting corn, sorghum, and the like.  With Green Bluff selling pumpkins last year at .45 to .55 per pound I think the effort is worth it on the annuals until the raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, currents, gooseberry's, jostaberries, quince, and cardoon start coming into their own.  I was reading a book this spring about plant breeding and because we're kind of out of space a the urban place I didn't see how I was going to try it out and now I don't have to really worry too much about it.  Now I just have to locate a source for popping garbanzo beans that require a shorter growing season and I'm all set!  


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Siemen Family Farms, Inc.
Siemen Family Farms, Inc.>

Siemen Family Farms, Inc.

A Wedding and Event Center North of Deer Park, Wa with plans for a commercially viable Permaculture demonstration farm.

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7 comments on article "The Farm is moving to...a farm?!"


Mike Hagar (website host)

8/13/2013 8:42 AM

Congratulations Sean and Shannon for the heart and courage to follow your dreams. Best of luck on the place.



8/13/2013 11:42 AM

Awesome! Well-done folks! I'd like to second Mike's sentiments as well, and say that we all can't wait for your first work party (i.e. "Amish Barn-Raising") ;)

If I may offer a couple thoughts-

-Remember the first principle of permaculture- OBSERVATION

-Chrys Ostrander has goats for sale if you have the need

-YES! to Bokashi- it's amazing

-Do you have a website yet? for the farm or event center.

-What are your biggest challenges that your family in the community might help with?

Blessings to you amazing Folks!



Siemen Family Farms, Inc.

8/13/2013 11:15 PM

Hello!!! @Mike - thank you! A little faith, hope, and love with a pinch of luck and A LOT of good will is probably what it's going to take to make the real dream happen. On the plus side, we've already booked five brides and we haven't even moved in. The only down side is the one million miles we've already driven to do it. ;-) I got your voicemail, BTW, and I am embarrassed that I didn't listen to my own video in it's entirety. The laughs' on me! I'll have to voice-over with my laptop and repost.

@Bryan - there WILL be opportunities, trust me, for labor but I'm still working out when I'd most need it. Moving seems obvious but can be such a drag especially when you add distance. On the goats, we have friends in Springdale who are working out the logistics for renting theirs for just our kind of needs and we'll be their testers. I'm not ready to add more livestock to my very full basket of tasks yet. On bokashi, I've never used it before so if you have thouggts and experience I'm all ears. On observation - I have been secretly driving by that place for over three years thankful and sad it hadn't sold yet. Of coarse, dreaming the whole time about what could be done there! My ideas have already changed just by walking around a few times. And then there's the wedding business side of it that doesn't "marry" as neatly with permacultue aesthetics. I'm really hoping to coax a relationship there that will allow us, in the future, to feel more like an eco destination wedding or event rather than another nice place among many. Having a large, lush lawn is unfortunately still in the plans for now until a more enviro-friendly and inexpensive alternative is found. Other thoughts include stawbale building workshops, orchard planting parties, farm to table dinner events, and figuring out this winter harvest business in the short term all while remaining sane, gainfully employed at my two other jobs, and not becoming a stranger to my wife and children. I am confident life will make quick work of ordering my priorities. On the website - Mike and I, and just about everyone else, have unilaterally agreed my website sucks. That said: There is so far nothing about SFF,Inc on it but because it's part of the whole project we will have to inegrate it sooner later. Also, SFF doesn't have its own site either other than Facebook. Sorry to disappoint. :-P Since you and Claire weren't able to he at our open house we should look at getting together sometime this fall to walk around. :-) I wrote this on my phone so forgive any spelling errors or missed points - my heart is large but my screen is still small. :-D


Torie Foote

8/14/2013 8:57 AM

Wow you must have quite the thumbs!!!

Even though the project looks daunting it sounds wonderful and thanks for sharing your progress!

Where do you plan to get the hibiscus-transplant? Seeds?

Enjoyed your open house and look forward to other adventures. :-)



8/13/2013 11:57 PM

I think the way to marry the bride business with the food forest is partly with the right path system, cleaner landscape design at the entry points. I have been to several weddings where a semi-wild copse or woodland close by was a charming asset. Permaculture food forests and thickets have a biblical garden of eden quality to them. There are design tools to bring that out. Done well, it could resonate well with the wedding business side.

I am drawn to the Spotted Rd side of your property. This is the section that your ephemeral "ditch" runs south through, thus where it gets interesting potential for some earthworks to detain that water. Are the fences, gates, and water lines an asset worth repairing? Where they are not, a swale system could be a good option.


Siemen Family Farms, Inc.

8/26/2013 6:05 PM

Torie & Phil - so sorry I have not responded to your thoughts until now. :-( The hibiscus is a bit of "have it now" and "will have to order" all in one. We've got the hardier and woody one in our transplant beds already so all we have to do is move them as they are now fairly well crowded. I'd guess I still have about 20 individuals of varying colors - I posted pics on facebook on the Siemen Family Farms page. We also have five herbaceous hibiscus (12" blooms) that are less hardy but did fine for us and at my mom's place out off Barker road. They are leggier (is that even a word?) than the woody form but that might just be a consequence of other issues resolving themselves in my soil. No doubt we will HAVE to buy and propagate what we have to get enough to border all the needed spaces. We were walking the lines last weed and saw things we hadn't yet seen and...well, I don't have to tell you how plans change after the 10th look and a new season. ;-) Phil, places to walk and "be" are definitely the only way to have order with chaos i.e. brides and food forests! I agree, it's not quite as bizarre as it first sounds and people really seem genuinely interested at least for the moment in seeing how it develops. Even folks who are not so interested in the living part of the world. I am all ears on water retention! Not so much because we're running low or slow but because I want ponds and swale systems are VERY appealing to me. We'll be using the North side of those areas for beauty planting of medium height trees that can stay under a power line, greenhouses to the south of them, and open gardens to the south of those. There's an enormous area to the South of what we've imagined so far just begging for swales and watery plantings for fish and wildlife and we can do that as soon as we're willing as they are not part of the wheat fields. You've walked back there probably more than I have! We'll have to meet out there and walk the ditch. I think the fences, gates, and water lines are worth saving on the outside and reconfiguring where they are no longer right for our use.


Siemen Family Farms, Inc.

8/28/2013 2:05 PM

Update on the farm, how we're funding it, and whatever else...

KREM2 came out to interview us on the crowd funding campaign a couple of weeks ago. We thought we were cutting room floor material and just received an email from Briana at Krem2 saying they would air the spot tonight at 6pm. Woo-hoo! With only 4 days left it would be great to have a final push of interest and pre-paids to get us fully funded. I've said on Facebook we've had a lot of buys that were not direct through the campaign as they preferred to pay cash in person, etc. So, even though we've hit roughly halfway it's not showing on the campaign. Anyway, really just wanted to share my good news and invite you to watch. I'll be posting a link as soon as we get one, too. ;-)

Oh yes, and I just received my Lawyer Nursery catalog and they have a bunch of things they didn't this spring - i.e. bush cherry (that's just one I remember they didn't have). Let me know if there's anything you've been thinking of fall planting and let's get it ordered while they're available!


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