In early April I visited Cloud Nine Farm near Wilsall, Montana for the first time. The ground was just thawing at this high-elevation farm that bases it’s growing techniques on Permaculture. Despite the fact that there was nothing sprouting green in the land that surrounds them, Allison and Seann, owners of Cloud Nine, were following their daily farm activities. In order to make Cloud Nine profitable the farm is a year round operation. Green houses, chicken and duck eggs, and micro-greens help extend the seasonal potential for the farm. Cloud Nine is an organic minded farm and in the past few months that we have been planning the Remote Studio project for them they have been working through the process for gaining full “organic farm” status. This status not only is a great personal goal it also assists their product commitment with the CSA they work with, Market Day Foods in Bozeman, Montana. As the organic reviewer told them, they have the most diverse farm requesting organic status she had ever seen. Which means that the farm had ultimately more paperwork and verifications to deal with , because their application for organic status extends beyond a mono-culture farm, and instead operated as a holistic entity. The holistic condition is representative of the permaculture farming that they have adopted. It is a best case operation that organic farms can reach toward. In May they gained their full organic status!
The concepts of permaculture farming are not so different than the architecture profession’s goals seeking to design their buildings to work with the environment of their buildings. Consideration of land, orientation, weather patterns, and best conditions for employing the “energy” and “productivity” of the place. While this may sound straight forward, its not simple. Certainly not simple if you are farming in the high elevations of Montana with land that had been previously overgrazed. And if you want to develop a closed-loop farm as Allison and Seann do, the challenges can be even greater. Closed-loop (just as in architecture) means that what you need you gain from your “ground” and what you produce in by-product stays on the land, and is not hauled away.
Artemis Institute is interested in supporting practices and experiences that recognize the relationship between nature and culture. With the Remote Studio program we focus our design/build project on community structures that assist this relationship. This year we are committing the Remote Studio project to Cloud Nine Farm because we believe that the food that they produce for our community helps ensure that we have healthy “connected to the land” choices. We are overly impressed with Cloud Nine and other such small organic farms who commit to find a way to grow healthy food, in less than simple environmental and economic circumstances. These young farmers work long hours, reinvest their meager profits in bettering their ground, seldom have time-off, and little financial opportunity to build the simple support structures we all imagine to be in place on farms. For these reasons, Remote Studio Summer 2014 students will be designing and building a multi-functional support structure that enables the farm to store their implements out of harsh conditions, hang their garlic and store their onions, better rinse their vegetables for market, and store their young plants in a more protected environment.
To achieve this new support structure Cloud Nine is providing the funds for all construction materials, and Artemis Institute/Remote Studio provides the design, construction management, drawings and construction of the structure for free. There is one more component that is on their list, but not in their budget: a refrigeration unit with a high-performing “cool-bot” that would allow them to extend the storage and delivery season of their products. We have estimated materials and technology for this portion of the structure at about $5,000 for Remote Studio to incorporate into the design and construction of the new structure. If supporting our developing American Organic Farmers seems like an important and necessary thing to do, then consider helping Artemis Institute build the new Refrigeration Unit for Cloud Nine Farm. Artemis Institute is a non-profit organization. Your donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. To make a donation click here.
Remote Studio students start designing the Cloud Nine structure June 16!