Salamander Springs Farm: Permaculture Organics

Berea, Kentucky
Family Farm

Built entirely from scratch, Salamander Springs Farm has modeled permaculture practice to produce food for the Berea, KY community and region since 2001. For more information, use the website link at the right.

After nearly a decade spent developing permaculture systems and appropriate technologies with small farmers in Latin America, Susana Lein returned to the USA and in 2001 began homesteading a piece of Appalachian mountain land near Berea, KY, with no road access, structures, utilities or topsoil. After clearing a gentle ridge, she established contour swales, ponds, permanent beds, no till staple crop fields, food forest, orchard and nut trees on the land which would become Salamander Springs Farm.

After completing a gravity-fed spring water system from the top of the forested watershed in 2002, Susana started camping full-time on the land, using an open-air kitchen shack she built from salvage materials, a homemade solar shower and compost toilet system.

Over the next few years Susana self-built a tiny passive solar house using locally-harvested lumber, clay, straw and salvage. She built another small passive solar building with a south facing space for starting plants and a north room for cold storage and small solar electric system. Susana transformed clay dug for farm ponds into a beautiful earthen floor, clay "slip-straw" walls and natural plasters.

See the website FARM SYSTEMS page for educational links, photos and details of permaculture and natural building projects at Salamander Springs Farm (

Since 2002, Salamander Springs Farm has been a key producer for the Berea Farmers' Market, Community Supported Agriculture shares, local stores and restaurants--with a wide variety of vegetables, staple grains & dry beans, fruits, nuts, berries, flowers, herbs, forest medicinals, ramps and mushrooms. On logged land once devoid of topsoil, today you will find deep, living soils producing abundant nutrient-dense crops without tillage, fertilizers or pesticides. Contour swales and ponds retain moisture and nutrients on the site, helping build fertility.

The website FARM PRODUCTS page includes black turtle and pinto beans, popcorn, and whole grain cornmeal grown, dried, shelled and processed on the farm. Grain & dry bean fields broadcast seeded without tillage in a continuous relay cover crop system, incorporating the wisdom of the late Japanese rice farmer, Masanobu Fukuoka, using a traditional scythe and rotationally-grazed poultry.

No-till cornfields use "3-Sisters" style polycultures of pole beans, pumpkins & squash, utilizing traditional Native American practices that Susana learned during 8 years working with Mayan farmers in Guatemala. Since 2001, Susana has developed a unique heirloom cornmeal corn, "KY Rainbow dent" which she sells seed through the Virginia heirloom seed company, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and on the website FARM PRODUCTS page. Much of what she learned about corn seed selection and breeding was during her years working with Mayan farmers (whose ancestors created corn from teocinte, a wild grain the size of wheat). She is especially grateful to the late Don Gavino Ca'al of Tampo, Tactic, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.

In 2014 Salamander Springs Farm was awarded a Kentucky State University small farm grant to purchase local lumber and materials to build a small granary barn and purchase a light commercial grain mill. Susana later built a porch on the granary for a community gathering space. All structures have been self-built with very little money and without debt. Nearly 20 years later, the farm remains entirely off-grid.

MONTHLY FARM TOURS: go to the website FARM TOURS page for information, dates and to reserve (April-November). Other events sometimes provide additional tour opportunities. As time permits, we arrange special tours for groups of over 10 people, including school and college students. Please understand that as a working farm we must stick to this schedule in order to accommodate the large number of inquiries for farm visits & tours. As we are off-grid without internet, reserve at least 10 days prior to your requested tour date, using the form provided at the bottom of the website FARM TOURS page (

PERMACULTURE IN PRACTICE & NATURAL BUILDING WORKSHOPS: see the website WORKSHOPS page ( for schedule, information and registration. You can also sign up on the website for the newsletter, which is emailed several times/year, to learn about both on-farm and off-farm workshops and events when Susana teaches for farming conferences and other organized groups. Contact us to organize a workshop for your group/organization or on your land.

Features on Susana and Salamander Springs Farm can be found on the website ABOUT and IN THE PRESS pages (, including the acclaimed permaculture documentary film "INHABIT" (translated into 7 languages), The Permaculture Podcasts, No-till Market Garden Podcast, Mother Earth News, New Pioneer, Permaculture Design, and Orion magazines, Cornell University's Small Farms Quarterly, Permaculture Research Institute's Permaculture News, and Yale Climate Solutions.

Susana Lein offers 30 years of experience in designing, building, living and maintaining permaculture, natural building, and off-grid farming systems. Whether you are unsure of how to proceed or want specific advice, consultations are a critical long term investment tool to help you realize your goals and save resources, time and money. For more information on consulting services, see the website CONSULTING page, (

PERMACULTURE IMMERSIONS at Salamander Springs Farm are available from May to October, usually in conjunction with farm skills days and permaculture workshops. Salamander Springs Farm participates in college service-learning programs, and when possible, WWOOF/Work-away type exchanges.
Length of stay for immersion programs varies with schedule and available openings. Full season apprenticeships have developed from past immersion programs.

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 cook stove & solar oven and tent platforms. All farm infrastructure (Susana's tiny house, potting shed (clay-slip-straw building), granary, corn crib, produce packing shed, tool shed, outhouse & shower, tent platforms 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 fill water needs. This is a place to learn about truly regenerative systems, cycling local resources & energy ("closing the loop"), homesteading from the ground up, living within the means of a local ecosystem, and using permaculture principles to develop sustainable housing, crop production and local economic systems. Spanish and English are spoken. Email for application information.

  • SALAMANDER SPRINGS FARM IS AN ENTIRELY OFF-GRID FARM & REMOTE HOMESTEAD. Although we are not on social media, you can learn much about the farm and its programs on the website ( As we are without internet, we appreciate your patience with email replies!
  • Listing last updated on Apr 13, 2020

  • Learn about permaculture and natural building practices at Salamander Springs Farm on the website, including PRODUCTS, FARM TOURS, PERMACULTURE WORKSHOPS and CONSULTING, at
    We are off-grid and remote, without internet or social media so please allow 10 days for email replies.

  • Season:  April through October

    Type:  single farm

    Since:  2013

    # of Shares:  15

    Share Prices:  $675 for full-season "Shoppers Basket" style CSA. Also offering flexible options for 2020 season, including monthly pre-pay of $150.

    Work Req?  No

    Markets on LocalHarvest

    Know a market serving this farm? Tell them to connect here on LocalHarvest!

    Schedule and Location:

    Berea Farmers' Market, Fee Park 415 Chestnut St, Berea, KY.
    Saturdays 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

    WINTER Market: Saturdays 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Methodist Parrish House, 101 Fee St. Berea, KY (behind summer market location).

    Local natural food stores, restaurants, special events, deliveries to Berea by order.

    Happy Meadow Natural Foods, Glades Rd., Berea, KY
    Native Bagel, Berea, KY
    Good Foods Co-op, Lexington, KY

    Latest Reviews

    When you're 'starved' for a genuine experience, Susana Lein at Salamander Springs Farm is the real deal.

    Salamander Springs Farm serves a full course Appalachian meal of permaculture and organic farming knowledge, solar and electrical energy alternatives, and SO MUCH more! And like any satisfying and surprising feast, Susana herself is the fine wine adorning each scrumptious presentation.... [more]

    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.... [more]

    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]

    See All Reviews

    From Our Blog

    Salamander Springs' Permaculture Workshops: email to get notifications


    Permaculture in Practice workshops at Salamander Springs Farm are not posted on social media, etc.  Salamander Springs is an entirely off-grid and remote farm without internet; we appreciate your patience with email replies!  If you would like to get on the workshop notification email list, press "email us" our our Local Harvest home page.... [more]

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