Salamander Springs Farm: Susana's Perma-organics

5 out of 5

Reviews (6)

Since 2002, Salamander Springs Farm has produced market crops without tillage, fertilizers or pesticides. This farm & homestead was created from scratch by developing & recycling local resources, energy & nutrients. Salamander Springs Farm incorporates permaculture principles, the wisdom of mentors like the late Japanese rice farmer, Masanobu Fukuoka, and traditional Native American practices learned from Mayan farmers in Guatemala. Grain & dry bean fields are broadcast seeded into cover crops. Visit our online store for our black turtle & pinto beans, popcorn & whole grain cornmeal---dried, shelled & processed on the farm. Cornfields are grown in a traditional '3-Sisters' polyculture with pole beans, pumpkins & squash... A wide variety of vegetable crops are intensively grown on mulched beds. Fruits & berries, nuts, herbs, flowers, as well as forest medicinals, ramps & mushrooms are harvested throughout the season. Farm products include dried & packaged fruits, chilies, culinary herbs & teas from our solar food dehydrator, herbal salves and luffa sponges. Seed selected from the farm's KY heirloom cornmeal corn is sold through the VA heirloom seed company, www.southernexposure.com. Farm products are sold at Berea Farmers Markets, local stores & restaurants, through our CSA, ordered deliveries and the Local Harvest online store.

Low-tunnel hoop houses are utilized for year-round production. Winter produce includes salads & greens, carrots, turnip, beets, broccoli, cabbage, daikon; fall-harvested potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, peanuts, pumpkin, squash; and packaged grains, dry beans, dried fruits, chilis, herbs & teas.

The most important resource at Salamander Springs Farm is our soil life & health. Using permaculture and biodynamic principles and practices, all food is produced organically in the traditional sense--by cycling local resources--not with the input intensive, industrial-scale methods of USDA Organic. Nutrient-dense, safe & healthy food requires a healthy, LIVING soil. Invariably the first thing customers notice is the wonderful taste (and nutrient value) of food grown in our living soil as compared to supermarket "organic" foods.

Susana Lein homesteaded what became Salamander Springs Farm on one of 4 contiguous land tracts, comprising 98 acres of hardwood Appalachian forest; protective land covenants were placed on all tracts to ensure sustainable, ecologically-sound care of the land. In 2001, she cleared briars, locust & cedar trees on about 6 acres of degraded ridge-top meadow, started building soil and planting the fruit orchard, "food forest" & nut trees. After building a gravity-fed spring water system from the forest in 2002, an outhouse & an open-air kitchen shack from recycled/salvaged materials in 2003, Susana began camping on the land while building other outbuildings and a small passive solar house from locally harvested & milled wood. Clay dug for farm ponds was utilized for a beautiful earthen floor, clay straw walls and natural plasters. A second passive solar building (of clay plastered "slip-straw") houses the solar system & freezer, serves as a potting shed in the spring and as onion and bean drying & shelling space in summer through winter. The farm is totally off-grid, powered by a small solar electric system.

2nd SATURDAY FARM TOURS: approximately 2 hours, starting at 2 p.m. each month from April to November on the second Saturday of each month. Workshops or other events (posted in "EVENTS" calender at right) sometimes necessitate changes to this schedule or provide additional tour opportunities. $10/person (groups of 5+ people @ $6/person). Email Us to reserve with your name(s), phone number, date requested, specific interests, and number in your party. We will confirm and send directions. If you are a farmer or the tour fee represents a hardship for you, we can discuss a barter or exchange for a few hours of working along side of us on the farm. Please understand that we we must stick to this schedule in order to accommodate the large number of inquiries we receive for farm visits & tours.

Susana Lein teaches PERMCULTURE & NATURAL BUILDING WORKSHOPS for organized groups, conferences and on the farm. "Email us" (on the previous page) if you wish to be included on the mailing list for future workshops, or to organize a workshop for your group/organization or on your land.

For details of the farm philosophy and practices implemented through the seasons, review Susana's permaculture teaching slides of the farm:


This link also has photos of natural building workshops held at the farm.

APPRENTICESHIPS at Salamander Springs Farm run from mid-April to mid-October. For more information regarding application process, see the farm's listing on the ATTRA national sustainable agriculture site :


Full season apprenticeships are normally decided by mid-February and preference is given to folks with prior farm experience and a proven commitment to organic farming and permaculture practice. Salamander Springs Farm also participates in World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms program (www.wwoofusa.org), www.growfood.org and college service-learning programs. Minimum length of stay for WWOOFers is one month with opportunity for extension if space is available. Apprenticeships have often resulted from returning WWOOF volunteers.

Farm conditions are rustic in a beautiful setting; we drink clear spring water and use a solar heated shower, composting outhouse, kerosene & LED solar lights, rustic kitchen shelter with LP range cook stove, tent platform sites or a small camper. Farm infrastructure (Susana's tiny house, potting & drying building, produce packing shed, tool shed, outhouse, shower and open air kitchen) has been developed from scratch using a majority of on-site, natural, local, recycled or salvaged materials. Gravity-fed spring water, rainwater catchment and ponds provide water sources. This is a place to learn about cycling local resources & energy, homesteading from the ground up, living within one's means, and using permaculture principles to develop sustainable housing, crop production and local economic systems. Spanish and English are spoken.

Detailed articles on the production of no-till grains & dry beans at Salamander Springs Farm were published in the Nov 2011 Permaculture Activist magazine, p.10-20. For magazine subscription information & BackIssues, see: http://www.permacultureactivist.net/

Online links to other published articles about Susana Lein and permaculture practices at Salamander Springs Farm:

  • Orion magazine, "Altar Call for True Believers" by Janisse Ray : http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/342/
  • http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/salamander-springs-farm-zbcz1405.aspx#axzz327a0Wsgs
  • http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/salamander-springs-farm-zbcz1405.aspx#axzz3GsTnaoKC

  • Kentucky Herald Leader newspaper: http://kentuckyag.blogspot.com/2009/11/berea-farmer-revives-land.html
  • Florida's Treasure Coast Palm newspaper : http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2011/mar/03/permaculturist-tells-fort-pierce-audience-how-to/
  • https://wwoofusa.org/2015-small-farm-grant-program-winners-announced/
  • Farm apprentice Bethany Cook's blog site: https://down2dirt.wordpress.com/
  • "Susana's Place" : http://radicalfarmwives.com/2014/07/11/susanas-place/
  • http://www.savoringkentucky.com/news/h84z7wcbinw3l2n99wfhxpyxt8js33
  • http://www.michaelnoblejr.com/blog/26656-mountain
  • Tuesdays 3:30-6:30 p.m. & Saturdays 9-12 a.m.\nLawn beside Berea College Farm Store, 311 North Main St., Berea, KY. \n\nWINTER PRODUCE DELIVERIES to Berea by order. \n
    5 out of 5

    Tho in my rural youth I walked corn fields and enjoyed creamy, sweet, fresh corn right off the stalks, for the last 20+/- years I have been unable to consume the "mutant" (hybrid) corn prevalent in commercial food production. Also such corn contamination "traps" as, paper cup molds dusted with corn powder to prevent sticking, baking powder, sweeteners, derivatives used in cosmetics, on and on. Six months ago I sampled Salamander Spring's Heirloom corn. Words are insufficient to describe how WONDERFUL it is to again enjoy DELICIOUS corn bread using Susana's provided recipe. LOVE the rustic texture. Susana, and others, preserving Heirloom food sources are National/International TREASURES. THANK YOU for your dedication!!!

    My husband and I attended Susana's Farm Tour in October. The weather was gloomy and rainy but that didn't distract from all the things we learned. Susana is very gracious and we enjoyed out time greatly!Her corn is the most beautiful corn I've ever seen!

    Susanna's farm is wonderful and incredible. She has put together an opportunity for folks to obtain healthy, nourishing food with her diligence, expertise and care. It is incredible what she has done purely by hand. The food we ate from her farm was naturally delicious. I didn't have to have issues with overeating because the food was so delicious and nutritious. I wish all food was this filling and nutritious. I don't think our country would have issues with obesity if all food was this good. Most of all her garden was inspirational. I want to garden and prepare food like this. I am working on my solar food dehydrator now.

    Denise McKinney

    I've never been to Susana's farm, but have just tried the cornmeal. Best. Cornmeal. In. The. World. I am a country cook, have made thousands of pans of cornbread, and I have never tasted anything so flavorful as this delicious cornmeal. Am buying some as holiday gifts.

    Kristin Smith

    I had first ran into Susana's Organics at the Berea FMKT and filled my sack full of garlic, potatoes, blackberries and even tried her Chamomile tea. The blackberries never quite made it into a cobbler from being so scrumptious! All of her food was so fresh and full of flavor! I was so interested in how they packed that flavor...soo I decided to go find out! I took a group of Master Gardeners to Salamander Springs Farm this past summer and was astonished at the amount of produce they were harvesting on a hillside! Susana and her gang were extremely welcoming to our group and gave us a fabulous tour and demonstration of permaculture. I had never seen such tall corn in my life! Many of us in the group had been traditional farmers of tilling and synthetic sprays but after seeing her methods we were all sold!

    Phillip Smith

    I have never seen the farm but I attended Susana's talk at the SSAWG conference in Louisville. The presentation was so dynamic and interesting that I bid on her basket of products at the Silent Auction. I was lucky enough to get the basket and have thouroghly enjoyed the black beans, cornmeal, and popcorn. As a Florida native I have long been a fan of black beans and found her included recipe to be excellent. I would highly recommend her products to anyone interested in high quality organic food. Thanks for your good work Susana. Phillip Smith