Salamander Springs Farm: Susana's Perma-organics

Berea, Kentucky
Family Farm

Salamander Springs Farm: Susana's Perma-organics

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, 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 (, 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:

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 :

  • Kentucky Herald Leader newspaper:
  • Florida's Treasure Coast Palm newspaper :
  • Farm apprentice Bethany Cook's blog site:
  • "Susana's Place" :
  • more...

    Listing last updated on Jan 19, 2015

    For information on "2nd SATURDAY" FARM TOURS, WORKSHOPS, APPRENTICESHIPS or WWOOF program : click on "more..." above. For photo details of Salamander Springs Farm permaculture practices & development 2002-2013 (compilation of Susana's permaculture teaching slides) see: . This link also has photos of Natural Building workshops at Salamander Springs Farm.

    Season:  May through October

    Type:  single farm

    Since:  2013

    Full Share:  $650 week (full shares)

    Work Req?  No

    Schedule and Location:

    Tuesdays 3:30-6:30 p.m. & Saturdays 9-12 a.m.
    Lawn beside Berea College Farm Store, 311 North Main St., Berea, KY.

    WINTER PRODUCE DELIVERIES to Berea by order.

    Local natural food stores, restaurants, special events:

    Happy Meadow Natural Foods, Glades Rd., Berea, KY.
    Berea College Store (Local Foods Section), College Square.
    Good Foods Co-op, Lexington, KY
    Stella's Deli, Lexington, KY
    Black Feather Cafe & Restaurant, Adams St., Berea, KY.

    Latest Reviews

    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!... [more]

    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.... [more]

    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.

    See All Reviews

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    Dear CSA family,   We are sending our CSA members each an email with this blog posting to let you know where you are in using your CSA share for this season!  It is the peak of the season, a good time for putting food by.... [more]

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