Living Roof, Top Layers

On the roof gluing the seam of the pond liners together with Ray, Michael, and John.


We were despairing from the idea of dragging up hundreds of buckets of soil up the ladder. Krista was persistent in calling for a pully system. Thank you, Krista! Below is a short clip of the soil going up without a ladder.

The next two clips are of Evan and Lindsy pulling the lifting rope. The amazing thing is the smile everyone had at the end of the pull when they realize that they just had fun where they were expecting suffering. This became the most coveted job.

This shows the soil in place, gravel for drainage, sod along the edge to hold back the soil, and straw to help stabilize.



Outdoor Kitchen Timber-framing Work Week

Our big summer work week was a complete delight and ended with our kitchen ready to proceed to its next step– a pond liner based green roof.

Thanks to all who came out and lent their bodies to a beautiful ether of work and play. Apart from the main building project, the week was filled with swimming, music, painting, foraging walks, and incredible and generous practice of many healing arts.

We hope these pictures pull your heartstrings and make you come back to us soon!



i-KjwS69Q-LDanny and Silo on the work site i-snsL2VX-LOur builder Michael taking measurements

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A basket from our garden’s bounty

i-MGNb7Rc-LNixon modeling the Aldo Leopold bench we build during the week using maple harvested from the land

i-vLhcJt2-LLindsey, Silo, and Nils prepare a meal together

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i-7xP2qQJ-LJan, Nils, Danny, Evan, Silo, and Michael engaging in a moment of heavenly chaos on site

O Bounty!

This is a shameless foraging appreciation post.  It thrills me to walk through the woods and happen upon handful upon handful of beautiful food and medicine growing wild.

The land here clearly once had beautiful and deliberate orchards, long uncared for by human hand, they now grow wild, fending for themselves.  20150830_145654 My findings from a short walk in the woods.  Apples, autumn olives, grapes, and plums.  While eating lunch together a couple weeks ago, Krista spied a beautiful white fungus growing on one of the logs (on top of one we had just drilled mushroom plugs into).  Aaron, our resident mushroom man looked it up and found that it is a “Piptoporus Betulinus” or the “Birch Polypore.”

Birch Polypore Much to all of our excitement, a little research revealed that this fungus has a variety of amazing properties.  It can be eaten, though it does have a rather bitter taste.  More interesting, I think, are its medicinal properties.  This fungus can be brewed into a tea to soothe nerves and eliminate fatigue.  The birch polypore is  great for boosting the immune system.  It is a strong antiseptic and can be used as a bandage, promoting healing and acting as an anti inflammatory.  There are some very interesting testimonies concerning its ability to not only enact speedy healing, but also to prevent scarring.

Full Moon Party for Our 2nd Anniversary

August 29th was our big party celebrating the past two years of work and play since the purchase of the HeartSong land.  We invited our community to come see what we’ve been up to here, to stomp cob for the sauna, roast corn over a bon fire, and luxuriate under a glorious full moon.

I believe we set a record for number of people simultaneously at HeartSong– we guessed maybe 60 over the course of the night!

Thanks to those who joined us, it was a gorgeous evening, and so representative of the community, playfulness, and love that have carried the land these past two years.  i-WWVmcfd-X2John and Tommy stomp cob together

Amy, Krista, and Julia take a break from stomping

Progress on the sauna

Amanzi with his cob

i-qcJTjjB-X3Sweet fire roasted corn from Sheely’s farm stand

Krista and Lindsay enjoy the potluck

i-RV7sdPK-X3Aaron lights the Swedish fire log

i-C9ZSxGs-X3The fire log! The friends! The moon!

Photos by John Ellsworth and Krista Birch

2 Years on the Land, and Many More to Come!

Today is the second anniversary of the land’s acquisition, coinciding with the full moon tonight.  In honor of this occasion, I’m posting a couple of pictures from the early days of HeartSong.

Tonight we’ll be having a celebration of this anniversary, so in the next week, look for photos to compare with the ones in this post and see how far we’ve come!  Lots of building, lots of planning, 730 days of adventure and counting!

Here’s to many, many more…


Krysta looks down into a freshly dug hole


When did this happen? — Goats in an excavator


John and Chewba take a rest from some clearly exhausting work


Kobe patrols the work being done


One of the land’s many inhabitants

HeartSong’s First Workshop: Cob Sauna Construction


Our first workshop hosted at HeartSong Sanctuary gathered 12 students on the land to learn cob construction as taught by Shawn King and Jamie Manza. Jamie had been working on the building with support from a few others on site since April; hand digging a foundation, filling a rubble trench, and building a stem wall from stones gathered from the land. When students arrived the afternoon of July 24th, the building was ready to receive cob.

i-JxqH4p9-X3The work Site before the course along with a cob model of the wall structure (J.E.)

Shawn and Jamie gave some introductory instructions and set us to work stomping our first batches of cob, mashing clay, sand, straw, and water together into a thick mixture that dries hard and strong.

Stomping cob, the members of this temporary community got to know one another; artist alongside teacher, musician, builder, solar panel installer!


Shawn and Jamie give a talk on-site (J.E.)

Jamie works on the roofing design on his model of the building (L.B.)

Noelle, Camillo, and Leroy stomping cob (L.B.)


A cob ball about to be added to the wall (L.B.)


Our sous chef Oliver takes a break from the kitchen to mix the slip that acts as a glue to secure cob to stone (J.E.)

i-wL4RcWN-X3A tiny cob city is emerges along the bond beam as Kate builds it up (J.E.)

Between construction sessions, we found time to swim in the creek, eat the bounteous meals prepared by Amelia and Oliver, and roast treats over a fire almost every night.

i-QLQtZHn-X3Night time at HeartSong (J.E.)


Cobbers build late into the night as friends serenade us with music on the last night of the course (including a special rendition of Stevie Wonder’s Have a Talk with “Cob” (J.E.)

We ended the workshop with a couple bales staked into the wall, and the majority of a bond beam placed.  Participants had an open invitation to come back to help finish building, and some stayed for a few more days for some extra cob stomping, skinny dipping, and general cavorting.

Endless thanks to all who built with us.  Those days filled this land to the point of overflowing with the spirit of community, hard work, and great excitement for the many projects and gatherings to come.

  IMG_5527 Shawn’s daughter Clair gives Pork Pork a sweet farewell at the end of the course (L.B.)

Photos by Lindsay Buckley (L.B.) and John Ellsworth (J.E.)