Living a Waste Not, Want Not life at Heart 2 Heart Farms
WORDS Tina Curry | PHOTOGRAPHY Heart2Heart Farms
Nestled on a steeply sloping hill, not far from Portland, sits Heart 2 Heart Farms. Upon arrival you might mistakenly think it is a throwback to the hippie era. First glance produces an array of terraces, cages, dwellings, animals and gear that make you pause to try and figure it all out. Forget that, it’s easier to take a tour and be amazed by what unfolds as you amble through the reclaimed wilderness. What started as an idea to grow only organic food in the middle of the urban forest has turned into something that perhaps owner Tyler Boggs never imagined: a repurposed sustainable compound that is literally living up to his expectations.
The multiple terraces, sheds and animals (along with a good amount of repurposed human things) appear haphazardly, but with Tyler explaining how it all works together you can see the purpose. Well maybe, but the farm is based on something that includes relatively new yippy words like “permaculture”. That’s a technique whereby you think a lot about how to do something so that it can work with as little effort as possible, a paradigm to most farms of today. Disheveled young people, in boots and clothes no less thread bare from wear and tear than Portland’s homeless, quietly work the farm. Each has come to learn, and each brings their own skills. They come from Egypt, England, and places that are harder to pronounce that we would otherwise not associate with collecting rabbit droppings, hybrid hydroponics, and etching creative designs into clean animal skulls. The farm is replete with randomness: handmade bridges that look like an otherworld set ready for installation, wooden signs, art pieces and plant theory installed. Pottery sheds, greenhouses, smoke houses, low rabbit barns, duck and goose enclosures and old fashioned bunk houses nudge up to each other like a squire town, where you might ex[ect to see Bilbo Baggins appearing at the next corner. This fluffle of rabbits in self cleaning cages. Where they only casually give us attention from a bored sideways glance while they contentedly sip water and nibble on feed.
Emerald green protein as shiny and a wet as a frogs back floats over a pond of catfish, trout and other mosquito eaters hidden beneath the slime. The fish eat the mosquito larvae, so the tiny biters aren’t a concern here. The slimy protein gets harvested and dried on trampolines and this aqua harvested fuel becomes feed for the animals. Peacocks roam along with checkered hens and tuxedo feathered ducks among the cages of other nibblings and family members. An occasional peacock call diverts attention up to the bordering tree where they watch for predators. Tiny black pigs hold still to be scratched and wild colored pheasants kept inside fencing don’t appear to be wishing they could break out like many a Disney movie. Along the back of the shed sits blue barrels of garden food that are cleverly designed to maximize yield. One can take a class, stick out their tongues at neighbors once the harvest comes in, and prove that the patio is ample space to stave off paying for store bought summer garden food. Heart 2 Heart is also a rescue farm of sorts. They take in abandoned urban pigs and male calves. I considered a peacock, but then thought better than to challenge my neighbor’s sense of humor (or my husband’s last nerve.) Nothing is lost here and the word waste is nonexistent. Heart 2 Heart Farms also harvests their own animals. It’s done with the respect and swiftness that people often speak of as a good way to die. It’s hard to find fault with the whole process at hand. Tyler speaks of teaching people that they can reduce their own carbon footprints with simple changes. Tyler, his wife Elizabeth, Joshua their son, and others teach classes that could appeal to quite literally anyone. Animal husbandry, canning, butchery, medicinal herbs, glass blowing, painting, leather tanning and more. So next time you want to take a walk on the wild side, you might just want to put on your barn boots.