Welcoming the 2013 season, at...

Sheba Dog Farm Logo

Our mission here is to grow the finest food in the world, all year long, for ourselves and others... as well as to teach, promote and inspire wider participation in small-plot, permaculture-inspired, backyard food production (...and have an abundantly good time doing it!)

Why Save Seeds?S

Farm-Based Mentoring

Getting Started With Goats

2006-Year In Review

2007-Year in Review
2008-Year in Review
2009-Year in Review

What are"Food Politics"?

CSA Partnership with LDF
On Gleaning and Farming
Footbag Peace Studies

This website is lovingly dedicated to our departed dog friends, Loretta, Sheba and Topher... They must be laughing together now!

.perpetual licking dog

Daniel Botkin, farm manager

398 Main Rd. Gill, MA 01354

*dbotkin@valinet.com * 413-863-8696

We're also happy to network on Facebook, too. Just friend me and tell us how we share this growing mission...

Assessing the troubled state of ourWorld today, we asked ourselves,

"What could be the best use of this beauteous hilltop?

... this growing opportunity?"

...and of this fleeting time we've been gifted?"

...To survive global climate change by gleaning treasures from the trash and mud?

...To revisit traditional assumptions about farming and teach practical food gardening to other wannabe farmers??

...To share its precious fruits with family, friends and allies, spreading seeds of knowledge, connection out into the world???

...To cultivate family, community, healthy soil, heirloom tomatoes, baby goats and... a small measure of food literacy and PEACE along with the good, green grub????

"Yeah, yeah... YEAH! That's it. That's it!", we thought...

Young Leylee and best friend, Loretta...


Agriculture: Supporting Community at Laughing Dog Farm

dan and divyaMy sweet wife Divya and I, (Danny Botkin) our daughter Leylee, along with our dear, near neighbors, Chris and Laura - and various seasonal interns and friends - "operate" an innovative, diversified homestead and organic micro-farm in central Franklin County. Laughing Dog Farm consists of 3+ acres of raised beds, two greenhouses, inter-planted vegetables, flowers, herbs, fruit and nut trees as well as a batch of delightful, multi-purpose, dairy goats...

Intentional Community's long History

This stunning, sunny hilltop we inhabit was once part of a well-known commune, one of the first and longest-enduring, with a poignant and facinating history, now past. Through neither of us was directly Renaissance Community  group photo from Warwick daysinvolved with the commune, we know many people who were. And our own lives and work here this past decade +have also been defined by an ongoing quest for community and connection, as we have sought to incorporate some of that legacy of tribe, family, land stewardship, social activism and co-creative inter-dependence. That's always been the ulterior goal, the idealistic Bigger Picture, per se. However, like everybody else, we're practitioners, working, growing and learning daily -- imperfectly attempting to do it better each time.

A Return to Farming

In 2000 I left a 20+ year career in teaching, counseling and human service to dedicate myself full-time to micro-intensive food farming. Here our pragmatic goal was to produce ongoing abundant harvests of seriously useful, diversified, high quality, nutrient-dense food using organic, soil-enhancing methods on marginal acreage, all by hand.

DIvya and Nigel, 2004Food as Curriculum

But we also looked at the world and observed a ubiquitous need for greater knowledge and literacy about food, plants, farming and other food-related subjects... These are key competencies to teach and promote In this age of global instability, rising fuel and food costs (not to mention poverty, "terror" threats, pesticide residues, obesity and eating disorders...) We soon realized that the traditional food and farming skills we're learning and practicing at LDF are perhaps even more valuable than the fresh bounty we harvest. And so we continue to explore new ways to teach food literacy and to inspire others to grow food in non-traditional spaces. Interestingly, we've found that skills, seeds, space and time aren't the only obstacles to more folks growing their own backyard sustenance. The most insidious are the mental barriers that stand in the way of more proactive home food production.

Farm Mentorship

For seven years now we've had a series of wonderful, seasonal interns ("WWOOFers") who come to live and volunteer on our farm in exchange for food, fellowship and learning. These mentoring relationships at Laughing Dog have been enormously rewarding for everyone.

carload of CSA veggies and flowersCSA Foodshares

Laughing Dog Farm was organized for five years around a small Community Supported Agriculture project, which is a group of lucky folks who sign up and pay in advance for a weekly delivery of excellent produce, from May to October. The CSA provided the farm with some income and an important community focus. CSA's work best when there is a two-way, mutually beneficial relationship between farmer and a vital community of consumers. Since starting the CSA in '02 we've polished our art and now are also selling our excellent produce at the local farmers market. However, we wish to invite a core group of conscious, local, green consumers to join us in in a collaborative, neighborhood CSA arrangement which serves the needs of our community and honors the spirit imbued here in the land.

Kickstarting Backyard Permaculture Gardens Everywhere

"veggie still life" by Divya ShinnWe see part of our mission at LDF is to offer ideas, inspiration and consultation to beginning farmers and backyard permaculturists who are serious about growing real food by hand on marginal acreage. I am available, both formally and informally, to teach and mentor a variety of practical skills related to organic gardening, cooking and food processing, as well as selecting and saving heirloom and other open pollinated seeds.

Also, if you, like us, see the wisdom of local, sustainable, grassroots food production -- and just need a bit of support and/or inspiration getting started, check out this series of basic gardening and permaculture videos we made last year for Expertvillage.com on the following important subjects:

Hoophouse Design

Growing Greens in Hoophouses

Growing Seedlings with Minimal Space

Getting Started with Dairy Goats

Planting Tips in the Spring Garden

Heirloom Seeds and Seed Saving


Laughing Dog Farm is still seeking one or more serious, long-term comrades/housemates/farm partners to share our home, land and vision into the future. We're especially interested in individuals, couples or a small family who share similar values and our intentional farming bent. heirloom tomato collectionThough sobered by the challenges of cooperative living and cooperative ownership, we remain clear and committed on this path... Please inquire!

 

Laughing Dog Farming Methods:

We raise all our crops by hand on less than three acres, using traditional, "bio-intensive" methods, raised beds, permanent trellises, low hoops, cold frames, extensive inter-cropping and a steady supply of rich, goat manure compost. Healthy soil translates into healthy plants which thrive with less pests and disease pressure. We use no chemical inputs, GMO seeds or poisons, whatsoever -- and produce an extended season of diverse, high quality and delicious produce. Aside from feeding our friends and family, we also feed ourselves year round on these precious harvests. Nobody loves fresh, gourmet produce like we do!

On Varieties and other Perks:

Our farm specialties are many, although we're very partial to exquisite lettuce mixes, salad and heirlooms on windowsillcooking greens, multicolored and uniquely flavored, heirloom tomatoes, pungent garlic and leeks, rich, buttery, ultra-healthy collards and other leafy brassicas, old fashioned beets, various humble storage roots, rare pole beans, heirloom melons and diversely colored flowers. We use early and late (Eliot Coleman-inspired) season extension techniques to offer longer harvest periods of many popular crops. We also grow spring vegetable and flower starts, cut flowers and herbs. Our dried heirloom tomatoes and other fruits are legendary.

What We Plant:

heirloom tomato slices ready for drierVeggies: Mesclun, peas, carrots, lettuce, spinach, chard, Asian greens, asparagus, collards, beets (seven varieties), carrots, leeks, onions, garlic, basil, dill, thyme, cabbage, parsnips, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, turnips, squash (winter and summer, multiple varieties), pole beans, bush beans, edamame soybeans, spuds, (multiple varieties) peppers, sweet and hot, tomatillos, cucumbers, corn, pumpkins, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, watermelons, muskmelons and cantaloupes.

Flowers: Sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias, sweet peas, marigolds, nasturtiums, calendulas, calla lilies, ornamental beans, amaranth, echinacea, bee balm, asters... and many, many other common and culinary and medicinal herbs and plants...

For The Future: We also have 3-9 year old plantings (originally Y2K inspired...) of fruit trees, raspberries, chestnuts, gingko, peaches, pears, kiwis, cherries, plums and Asian pears which have now begun to yield. (I always wanted to live somewhere long enough to plant fruit trees.)

 

...What gorgeous lettuces! My mom came by and it felt great to have this sumptuous stuff to share with her. She took a sample of lettuces she'd never seen before home with her. (We grew up on Iceberg and Romaine.) The abundance of flowers has also lifted our spirits no end. Muchisimas gracias, amigo! ~ C.S.

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...thanks for your garden inspiration and the beautiful food, it has brightened the end of summer, early fall for me... ~ D.S.

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I've loved both your weekly emails and the weekly offering of bounty. Your enthusiasm about sharing what you do makes greeting you each week a pleasure... ~ R.R.

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I have loved all of the bounty of the farm, both human and ingestible. ...thanks to all for making this venture happen... thanks for the tutorial on heirloom tomatoes...we have all become fans here... they're the most flavorful tomatoes I've ever had. ~ J.M.

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It has been an absolute treat and a pleasure eating your homegrown food this summer. The veggies have been wonderful... fresh and delicious…the way food should be, of course. Thank you, thank you for all the love your pour into it. ~ L.G.

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Your Friday morning visits with abundance and glorious foods cheered me, filled me without even a bite... Thank you again and again. It was a great gift you bestowed upon my family, my friends... ~ A.M.

 

Laughing Dog Farm, like each of us, is a work in progress... Here's hoping that you can share with us in the next chapter of this deliciously vital, growing adventure. Your participation and input is highly valued. Join with us in whatever way you can...

Lovin' you,
Daniel "Dog" Botkin and family

two devas off to chant
398 Main Rd. Gill, MA 01354 * dbotkin@valinet.com * 413-863-8696


"This final truth is self-evident. You are the one you’ve been waiting for... You’ve been here the whole time." ~ William Rivers Pitt