Salamander Springs Farm: Permaculture Organics


Berea, Kentucky
Family Farm

Salamander Springs Farm was created from scratch utilizing permaculture principles and practice, by developing & recycling local resources, water, energy & nutrients. Since 2002, land once devoid of topsoil has produced an abundance of market crops without tillage, fertilizers or pesticides. Grain and dry bean fields are broadcast seeded in a continuous cover crop system, incorporating the wisdom of mentors like the late Japanese rice farmer, Masanobu Fukuoka with the assistance of rotationally-grazed poultry and a beautifully-crafted scythe. Cornfields are grown without tillage in '3-Sisters' polycultures with pole beans, pumpkins & squash, utilizing traditional Native American practices Susana learned from 8 years working with Mayan farmers in Guatemala. Contour swales on these fields have retained moisture and built fertility over the years. Black turtle & pinto beans, popcorn & whole grain cornmeal are dried, shelled & processed on the farm (see online store below). For 16 years Susana has selected, bred and developed a unique heirloom cornmeal corn ("KY Rainbow" dent) which is sold through the VA heirloom seed company, www.southernexposure.com. A wide variety of vegetable crops are intensively grown on permanent mulched beds and between contour swales. The farm also produces an abundance of fruits, nuts, berries, herbs, flowers, forest medicinals, ramps & mushrooms throughout the season. Farm products include dried & packaged fruits, chilies, culinary herbs & teas from our solar food dehydrator, herbal salves and luffa sponges. Salamander Springs Farm products are sold at Berea Farmers Markets, local stores & restaurants, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions and the Local Harvest online store. The CSA runs May-October (As of 1/20/19 there is one opening for the 2019 season).

Low-tunnel hoop houses and a salvaged full sized hoophouse are utilized for year-round production. Winter produce includes chard, daikon, broccoli (early winter), cabbage, salad greens, kale, spinach, carrots, turnip, mustards, beets, sunchokes, turmeric, and ginger. Fall-harvested potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, peanuts, pumpkin, squash, cornmeal, popcorn, dry beans, cowpeas & garbanzos, dried fruits, chilis, herbs & teas fill out the larder. 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 and 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 7 acres of degraded ridge-top meadow, started building soil and planting the fruit orchard, "food forest" and nut trees. After building a gravity-fed spring water system from the forest in 2002, an outhouse and 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. Salamander Springs Farm is totally off-grid. Another passive solar building houses a small solar electric system and freezer in its north room while the south side serves as a potting shed. Clay dug for farm ponds has been utilized for a beautiful earthen floor, clay "slip-straw" walls and natural plasters. In 2014, a small farmers' grant from Kentucky State University helped purchase a grain mill, rough lumber & roofing to build a small granary building, on which Susana built a porch addition for a community gathering and workshop space.

MONTHLY FARM TOURS are offered on the 2nd Saturday of each month from April to November starting at 2 p.m. Tours last 2 1/2 hours and are $12/person paid on arrival. (groups of 5+ people @ $8/person) Please understand that we must stick to this schedule in order to accommodate the large number of inquiries for farm visits & tours. Workshops or other events (posted here in the "EVENTS" calendar) sometimes necessitate changes to this schedule or provide additional tour opportunities. Press "Email Us" here 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 farm apprentice or student for which the tour fee represents a hardship, we can discuss a barter or exchange for a few hours of working along side of us on the farm. As we are off-grid without internet, contact us at least a couple weeks prior to your requested tour date to arrange. As time permits, we can arrange special tours for groups of over 8 people, however we generally must stick to this schedule in order to accommodate the large number of inquiries we receive for farm visits & tours.

PERMACULTURE IN PRACTICE & NATURAL BUILDING WORKSHOPS at Salamander Springs Farm: email us below to be added to our mailing list for workshop notification. Email notifications are sent several times/year, including both on-farm and off-farm workshops for organized groups & conferences. Events and workshops are also published here in the Local Harvest events calendar. To organize a workshop for your group/organization or on your land, email us below. Once again, as the farm is totally off-grid without internet, please allow 1-2 weeks for replies.

Susana and Salamander Springs Farm are featured in the acclaimed award-winning 2015 documentary film "INHABIT" which premiered at the North American Permaculture Voices conference, the International Permaculture Convergence in London in September 2015, and has been translated into 7 languages. Susana can also be heard in 2 podcasts with Scott Mann of thepermaculturepodcast.com. See links below for other articles and information.

See photos and details of permaculture and natural building projects at Salamander Springs Farm: www.flickr.com/photos/salamanderspringsfarm/sets Click on the first photo set for permaculture workshop slides of the farm.

PERMACULTURE APPRENTICESHIPS and WWOOF IMMERSIONS at Salamander Springs Farm run from mid-April to mid-October. Salamander Springs Farm also participates in college service-learning programs. See the farm's listing at wwoofusa.org (World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms): wwoofusa.org/farm/susanas-perma-organics-salamander-springs-farm/ WWOOFusa.org film interview with Susana at Salamander Springs Farm, "How has WWOOF Impacted your Life?" (November 2017):

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru_OjXdkaMM
  • Full season apprenticeships are normally decided by February of each year with preference is given to folks with prior farm experience and a proven commitment to organic farming and permaculture practice. Minimum length of stay for WWOOF/ immersion programs is one month with opportunity for longer stays or extensions if space is available. Several WWOOFers have returned for full season apprenticeships.

    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. We are not on social media but you can learn more from the links below. Without regular access to the internet, we appreciate your patience with email replies!
  • Detailed articles on Salamander Springs Farm no-till grains & dry beans production were published in the November 2011 Permaculture Activist magazine, Issue #82 p.10-20. See magazine backIssues at: https://www.permaculturedesignmagazine.com/back-issues

    Published articles, films, books etc. about Susana Lein & Salamander Springs Farm copy & paste links if not live):

  • "No-till Organic Relay Cropping in Kentucky: Salamander Springs Farm," Small Farms Quarterly, Cornell University http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2018/01/08/no-till-organic-relay-cropping/
  • Regenerative Carbon Farmer: http://www.projectgrounded.com/
  • Featured in 2015 permaculture documentary film "INHABIT": http://inhabitfilm.com/ (translated into 6 languages).
  • Permaculture Podcasts with Scott Mann:
  • http://www.thepermaculturepodcast.com/2015/episode-1538
  • http://www.thepermaculturepodcast.com/2016/episode-1620
  • https://www.thepermaculturepodcast.com/2018/1806/
  • Yale Climate Connections: Carbon Farming article: http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2016/10/could-carbon-farming-help-the-climate/
  • WWOOFusa.org, November 2017 film interview, "Permaculture Production Farm & WWOOF Community": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru_OjXdkaMM
  • Stone Barns Center, NY 2015 Young Farmers' Conference presenter:
  • https://www.stonebarnscenter.org/resource/farm-case-study-salamander-springs-farm/
  • No-till Farming for Healthier Soil and Lifestyles, Nov. 2017, Permaculture Research Institute: https://permaculturenews.org/2017/11/06/no-till-farming-healthier-soil-lifestyles/?mc_cid=18dbc543dd&mc_eid=a6db2bfbea
  • 2016 and 2017 Southern Sustainable Agriculture Conferences:
  • http://www.ssawg.org/ssawg-blawg/?offset=1489789134616
  • Cornell University Reduced Tillage Panel http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/reduced-tillage/people
  • www.abundantfoodanddesign.com/large-grid
  • Orion magazine, "Altar Call for True Believers," Janisse Ray : http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/342/
  • Mother Earth News, "Permaculture Farm in the Appalachian Mountains" http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/salamander-springs-farm-zbcz1404
  • Mother Earth News, "Salamander Springs Farm,"
  • https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/salamander-springs-farm-zbcz1405
  • "Create Seed for your Bioregion," Permaculture Design Magazine,
  • Summer 2017, p. 25: https://www.permaculturedesignmagazine.com/back-issues
  • Kentucky Heirloom Seeds: Growing, Eating, Saving by Bill Best and Dobree Adams, Chapter 10. https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0813168899
  • "American Crisis, Southern Solutions," by Anthony Dunbar, p. 221
  • https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1588382281
  • TEDX Birke Baehr: http://www.birkeonthefarm.com/farms-birke-has-visited.html
  • The Nashville Scene, Nov. 2017 on TN Local Food Summit workshops: https://www.nashvillescene.com/food-drink/bites/article/20983338/tennessee-local-food-summit-plans-most-ambitious-program-yet
  • Rick Hayes videos of Salamander Springs Farm, July 2017:
  • https://goo.gl/photos/BGwMrwHmkHxqqc3s8
  • Obiora Embry photos & videos of Salamander Springs Farm, June 2016: http://photography.onlyoneme.us/salamander-springs-farm
  • Kentucky Herald Leader newspaper: http://kentuckyag.blogspot.com/2009/11/berea-farmer-revives-land.html
  • 2014 North American Biodynamic Conference: https://www.biodynamics.com/2014-north-american-biodynamic-conference/presenter/susana-lein
  • A Self-Forage System for Chickens Salamander Springs Farm, Susana Lein, Permaculture Activist #43: https://www.permaculturedesignmagazine.com/back-issues
  • 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/
  • http://www.fitky.org/2016/08/09/making-your-farmers-market-a-destination/
  • "Susana's Place" : http://radicalfarmwives.com/2014/07/11/susanas-place/
  • http://www.savoringkentucky.com/news/h84z7wcbinw3l2n99wfhxpyxt8js33
  • INHABIT film bios: http://inhabitfilm.com/in-the-film/
  • Listing last updated on Apr 19, 2019


  • Learn about Salamander Springs Farm permaculture and natural building practices from 2002-2017 at: www.flickr.com/photos/salamanderspringsfarm/sets. Includes Susana's off-farm permaculture workshop slides and photos essays of farm projects and workshops.
  • For FARM TOURS, PERMACULTURE WORKSHOPS, WWOOF/APPRENTICESHIPS, see information above. Salamander Springs Farm is off-grid and remote, so please allow a couple weeks for email replies.

  • Season:  May through October

    Type:  single farm

    Since:  2013

    Full Share:  $675 week (full shares) for a long 20-week season!

    Work Req?  No


    Markets on LocalHarvest


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

    Schedule and Location:

    Saturdays 9-12 a.m.
    Berea Farmers' Market, 419 Chestnut Street, Berea, KY.

    WINTER Market: 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

    2018-10-19

    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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    Products and Crops


    Spring




    Ark of Taste Products