Make a Donation
Why Help Us?
Our farm produces food, for our own consumption, regenerates land and soil, provides knowledge of permaculture through observation and experimentation, and shares the knowledge with the volunteers who stay with us. What it doesn’t produce is money, and its expenses are high, for animal feed and supplies, building materials, equipment and supplies, and meals for volunteers. This effort is self-funded, using our freelance translation income, and we source as much as possible of what we need from foraging and cooperative relationships with local people. Nevertheless, the farm is constantly short of operating funds, and we have a lot of good ideas that never get done because we can’t fund them. In short, we need donors. Please consider donating, either on a one-time or recurring basis. You can do that securely from the form below.
What's In It For You?
We’re not a registered charity, so helping us won’t get you a tax break, unfortunately. But other than the knowledge that you’re contributing to a good cause, we’ll keep you informed about where the money goes and how the farm is progressing.
More practically, we’ll be offering donors a range of goodies and benefits, rather like the perks/returns offered to people who back crowdfunding projects. Details to follow, but there will be farm produce, crafted items, learning opportunities, and invitations to visit or stay.
Feel free to contact us and discuss what you’d like before you decide about a donation.
The Barn (Crowdfunding)
Converting our barn is a hugely important project for us. Other than fixing the structure to ensure its survival through next winter, we want to replace all its roofing and walls with multiwall polycarbonate, so that it will function as a herb greenhouse and better winter habitat for livestock.
We will be ordering the polycarbonate from China and doing our own building work, with help from volunteers, but the project will still cost us nearly Y600,000 to finish buying the barn and pay for building materials. That’s why we’re making this a crowdfunding project on Readyfor. Please take a look (the listing will be up soon) and consider contributing.
All our livestock (chickens and rabbits) are currently living indoors, mostly in the barn, and we only let them out onto the two fields next to the barn. That’s OK as a stopgap measure in spring, but what we really want to do is keep them out in the fields, where they can enjoy the outdoors, forage for food, and fertilize the soil. Keeping them in the barn means we have to feed them more, bring them straw for bedding, take their manure to the fields rather than letting the animals spread their own, and keep the barn clean. It’s also a strain on the two fields, which we can’t use for growing anything. The most important consideration is that the animals aren’t getting the best quality of life we can give them.
Living on the fields means they need temporary buildings to sleep in at night, and for shelter in bad weather. We experimented with tents last year, as proof of concept to demonstrate that the chickens and rabbits will be happy to sleep outside. That worked, but the tents weren’t durable or large enough. This year, we want keep them in a number of arched plastic greenhouses, like this or bigger.
You may be wondering why we’re going for greenhouses covered in huge sheets of plastic. Surely glass is more sustainable? Actually, I’d love to use glass. My grandparents farmed tomatoes in huge glass greenhouses, which I loved. But, we live in a place with huge snow loads that would crush permanent glass greenhouses, hailstorms that would shatter the panes, and potentially extreme winds and tornadoes that could turn them into shrapnel. We don’t automatically accept local farming practices, but there’s a good reason why everyone here uses plastic-covered pipe frames. That said, we will commit to using polyolefin sheet, rather than the standard PVC stuff.
Solar Panels for Electric Fences
Our area is home to a wide range of hungry things with teeth that would love to eat chickens or rabbits. The list includes foxes, martens, badgers, cats, bears, and boars. We need electric fences to keep our animals safe. So far, we have three of the power units that run the fences, so we can protect the barn and two enclosure areas in the fields. They weren’t cheap, and at the time, we just got the basic units so we could get enough fences up and running. The problem is that they run on ordinary batteries, not rechargeables. They last quite a well, but eventually they run down and I have to throw a lot batteries out for recycling, which is a huge waste of resources. We want to upgrade our fence units with a rechargeable battery and solar panel each, which would save the wasteful use of one-time batteries. It would also improve security by keeping the fences running on full power all the time.
Each upgrade costs Y14,800 for the solar panel and Y9,980 for the battery pack, as below:
We need to wash a lot of stuff like bins and buckets that are dirty with everything from chicken manure to fish guts. We use scrubbing brushes and rinsing in the stream as much as possible, but a lot of it needs to be hosed off. The problem is that our outdoor hose tap supplies mains water, not spring water, so we’re using highly-treated potable water to clean buckets. Other than the waste of resources, we’re paying for the water. A pressure hose system with a suction intake would take water from the ample flow of the stream next to our garage, saving money and resources. The higher pressure would also get dirty things cleaner in less time.
We’re thinking of something like this, which costs about Y27,000.
Supplies and Expenses
We get as much of our supplies as we can from foraging and through collaborative relationships with local businesses, but there’s a lot of stuff we just have to buy. Of course, it’s all organic too.
This post gives more detail about what our chickens eat.
So supplies in general are a huge expense, and that’s where we would spend non-targeted donations, but there are some specific things in this area that donors can choose to help with
The chickens love seeds more than anything else. We give them a mix of organic soba (buckwheat) seeds and sunflower seeds, which works as a treat, a nourishing snack, and a protein supplement that boosts egg production. Seeds are also so appealing that even unwell birds with low appetite can’t resist eating them, so we need them as convalescence food. We buy the seeds in Japan, and they’re organic, which makes them seriously expensive. If we could afford to, we could feed the birds with those as their main feed, like other farms feed them corn-based pellets and stuff like that. As it is, we feed them less seeds than we (and they) would like, so we’d be glad of donations to up the seed content in the diet.
A bag of each costs a total of Y3,000 (Y1,500 each for soba and sunflower seeds).
A lot of the ingredients are basically supplements to improve the birds’ health and wellbeing, but those are often the most expensive parts of their diet. We add dried herbs, spices and essential oils in large amounts, and we’d like to add more. They make observable differences in bird health and can protect them from potential problems. We forage for as much as possible in season, but we have to buy most of these ingredients from shops in the States or Japan. Even in bulk quantities, organic herbs, spices, essential oils and so on are expensive, and we could raise the amounts we put into the diet if we had targeted donations for the purpose.
Extra Volunteers and Their Needs
There’s no shortage of work to be done on the farm, whether it’s everyday maintenance, building, animal care, foraging, or land improvement. Our volunteers are vital to keeping the farm working. We literally couldn’t do it without them. Many hands make light work, and we could usefully work with four all the time. I reckon we’ll need more for peak times of barn building. The problem is the expense of keeping our volunteers. They eat the same organic, nutrient dense foods we do, and incur living expenses for water and heating. We also like to take them to see special places around our town, and other worthwhile trips. With more budget for supporting volunteers, we could employ more of them, to get more done and make faster progress towards our goals.
Other Ways to Help
Join Us As a Volunteer
We’ve been taking volunteers since summer 2019, both informally, and through volunteer sites such as Workaway. Volunteers are vital, for our everyday operations, for our long-term plans, and for our educational mission.
These are the sites we work with, so you can take a look at our profiles and other information. We’re usually booked up for some time ahead, but please don’t hesitate to contact us.
For more information on the volunteer experience here, take a look at our guidelines before you apply.
Show Your Support on a Shirt
Make a Donation
You can use the form below to make a secure donation, either one-time or recurring. Rest assured that we never see your credit card details.
Please contact us if you have any questions