Plan B



– Plan B –


Necessity being the mother of invention, we have created a Plan B.


The barn project will have to wait, but there are still ways to create much of the needed space to teach many of the classes. Currently, the woodworking, blacksmithing, spinning, and sewing classes are limited to only two or three people at a time, and we cannot offer a weaving class at all, as we have no space to set up the looms. Plan B would create enough added space to open these classes up to more students.


Plan B will be accomplished in four phases:


Phase One is to construct a 30’x48’ greenhouse-type pipe structure to be used as a woodworking and metal shop. This new space would allow for room to teach woodworking, metal-smithing, small engine repair and tool making.  We will also be able to host a local artist who teaches classes on making your own spinning wheel. The cost to put up this structure is $3,500.


This new structure would also allow us to move the large tools and wood from the 28’x45’ basement storehouse, where it is currently stowed, allowing us to begin phase Two.


Phase Two would include converting the storeroom to classroom space where we will be able to teach spinning, weaving, and other indoor activities. The reference library could also be moved to that area and expanded. This area also houses an unfinished kitchen, a root cellar, and a canning room – all important for future classes. Finishing this space will cost $800-$1,000.


Phase Three is to finish the storehouse kitchen for food preservation and cooking classes. The budget for this is more complex as we will need to up-grade our breaker box and put in a sump pump, as well as finish the kitchen. This may require outside help and we have not yet established the budget for this phase.


Phase Four is to build the smithy. This will be a simple structure with three walls, a roof, and a gravel floor for teaching blacksmithing. Much of the material for this project is already here. This phase is not contingent on the others and building it would make a great student project for next summer. The budget is $700.


If any of these projects appeal to you, and you would like to participate in their construction, please contact us. We will need help setting up the shop space and layout, and the smithy project will be open as a construction class. If you would like to contribute financially to the completion of any one of these projects, you can either contact us directly to be sure the funds are allocated to a specific project, or you may donate via our website and the gift will be added to the project in process.


Kateen Fitzgerald


Time To Be A Hero

In the 19th century more then 30 million bison roamed the plains west of the Mississippi river.  They were so common we took them for granted.  Lust for their tongues, their hides, and just plain cruelty brought them to the edge of extinction.  At their low point, only 25 Bison roamed freely, all within the confines of Yellowstone National Park, where an army garrison kept poachers at bay.


Twenty-five was not enough.  The bison were doomed except that private citizens, often wealthy ranchers, stepped up.  Some of them had kept private herds of bison corralled on their land, safe from poachers.  They donated those animals to the herd inside Yellowstone, and the bison was pulled back from the brink of annihilation.  Thousands now roam in multiple herds, and every year surplus animals are moved to build the population elsewhere.


The bison were saved.


In the 19th century millions of people drew a living from the land beneath their feet.  The knowledge of how to plant, grow, harvest, and preserve in cooperation with nature was so common we took it for granted.  In the decades that followed we found other ways to get our food.  Instead of eating what we saw grown and harvested near us, our food came from farther and farther away.  People became separated from the production of the very food they ate every day, and in the gap between people and their food came processing and chemicals that no one talked about.


The knowledge of how to draw our existence from the earth in cooperation with nature faded.  What once was common now became rare.  Like the bison, the ability to plant and grow in harmony with nature hangs at the precipice of extinction.  Even as more and more people wake up to what’s happened and demand change, the knowledge of how to live and eat healthier isn’t common enough to support the movement.  People want to do better, but they don’t know how.


What we need is a way to bring that knowledge back into our culture, to rebuild the skills of farming crops and animals in a way that brings people closer to the food that sustains them and back to harmony with nature.


Across America, a small number of teaching farms, like The Dirt Rich School at Compass Rose Farms in Port Townsend are helping people learn what once was common knowledge.  Those new farmers will go out and train others, growing food and raising up the next generation of sustainable living, bringing it back from the edge of oblivion.  But like the bison in Yellowstone, this movement needs an influx of resources to make it happen.  These teaching farms can’t grow crops for their communities, train the next generation, and build sustainability all on their own.  They need helpers who can supply critical resources when they’re needed.  Without the private herds, the bison would have died out.  Without your help, The Dirt Rich School and other teaching farms won’t be able to do what needs to be done.


Sustainability and healthy food have to do more than just limp along as a fringe movement that everyone likes but doesn’t change much.  Factory farming that depends on chemicals and brings you food from 12,000 miles away, food you never see until you tear open a bag or peel off a layer of plastic, has it’s heroes.  Dow, Monsanto, corn subsidy programs, and public universities that teach students how to supply the processed food industry make sure that way of living and eating goes on.  No factory farmer goes it alone.  Sustainable farmers and those who train them can’t go it alone, either.  We need our heroes, too.


Those with the means have to step up.  It wasn’t enough for those ranchers to each protect 10 or 15 bison.  They had to see when the time was right and do what needed to be done.  It isn’t enough to like sustainable agriculture or to buy local produce.  It’s time to support teaching farms like The Dirt Rich School at Compass Rose Farms.


If we’re going to get beyond a few local producers and make sustainable living available to everyone we need places where people can learn what once was common knowledge.  To do that, places like The Dirt Rich School need resources to provide classroom space and teaching opportunities.  They have the knowledge.  They can do the teaching, but they can’t do everything, not all at once, not fast enough to push this movement where it needs to go.


If we don’t grab this moment in time, if we let the interest in sustainability whither, then it will never be more than it is right now.  That’s where you come in.  The Dirt Rich School needs a barn, a barn to teach in, a barn to be the center of learning an old way of living so it becomes new again.  Like the ranchers who saved the bison, you need to help save sustainability.  You need to be a hero.


If you are reading this letter it means you know this movement is important and you’re in a position to help.  This is no time to be shy.  Like the ranchers who provided the bison, you can help build a future of sustainable living.  You can do more than others so you must.


Our world needs sustainable agriculture.  We need to train people to do it.  The Dirt Rich School needs a barn to make it happen.  It’s a revolution, and every revolution needs its heroes.  The bison had those ranchers.  Factory farms have Monsanto.  This revolution needs you.


It’s time to step up.


Please visit and become a hero.