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  • Writer's picturePeter Pawlowski

Out of the muck springs a lily.

per·ma·cul·tur :ˈpərməˌkəlCHər/

noun: permaculture

Definition: The development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

Now take this definition and compare it to wikipidia’s definition of intensive animal agriculture. Today’s leading method of agriculture by farmers post WW2.

Thankfully we have organizations like Lily Springs. One of the nations well respected educational and production farms today. Their believe in integrating Permaculture and perennial farming stems from a desire to EDUCATE.REGENERATE.CELEBRATE. It’s no easy task going up against the source of the greatest cause of global warming, but here is how they do it.


They Educate by converting a 100 acre parcel of land into an educational sanctuary. On this farm, you will witness different environmentally sustainable methods of agricultural. From switching to perennial crops, to incorporating goats to remove invasive foliage. They also teach small scale farming by using row style crop fields, along with water regeneration. Educators are on site providing experience and years knowledge. Lets not forget financial sustainability. The boom in cash crops and use of chemicals is all about the bottem dollar. They will share how permaculture can be financially sustainable from large scale farmers to the small farm.


They Regenerate by converting industrial farmland into thriving perennial gardens. They integrate the importance of natural pollinators as well as filling their rows with native varieties. Like hazelnut, elderberry and Asparagus. It’s not only soil restoration that interests Nina and her team of experts. Water is a paramount on their to do list. Currently they are recovering a toxic 40 acre lake with microbial matter. Bringing back life that has seen already evidence of the return of wildlife. Last but not least, they make an effort to reconnect a crumbling community. Polk county Wisconsin, is home to one of the highest levels of meth use. When the care taker of the land become disconnected to the way of the earth. It’s a reflection of the reality assumed by many climate change believers.


They Celebrate by becoming involved with the community. Friend or foe. Have you ever walked up to an industrial crop or animal farm. They are machines. What I mean by that is they are lifeless. Even in death needs to be respect and celebration of life taken. But the customer has changed. The communities have changed. We have forgotten the how to celebrate. How to respect. How to be part of the cycle of life. This is how Lily Springs farm separates itself. Their space isn’t designed to be a machine. It’s designed to be a livable, multi purposed prototype of how stewards of the land can…

1. Make a respectable living wage.

2. Be more than just an Individual.

3. Grow more than just a commodity.

3. Nurture the land.

What’s in a Name

Their mission statement is deep. What really stuck with me when we visited was how Lily Springs got it’s name. Nina (the owner of Lily Springs) sums it up nicely by saying

“On the farm, we feel that from the muck and the mud comes the Lily. This spring fed lake and the many lily’s is how the farm got it’s name”.

I love this thought. It tells me that Nina and her staff are — within themselves — very much their own permaculture farm.Perhaps I’m reading into her words to much, but, people are no different then a plot of land; with layers upon layers of history and experience. Haven’t we all come from some kind of crap that makes us who we are today? Don’t we all have our muck? Can I too be a Lily in my own eyes?

Making this connection felt like I had the fog cleared from my vision. Because the principles of Permaculture isn’t new and isn’t rocket science. There are primitive cultures today that have been practicing similar methods for generations. But for so many consumed in the popular culture, we got lead astray from the fundamentals of healthy living.

How Lily Springs creates a more connected citizen.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m lost when it comes to understanding where my food is coming from. Where my clothes come from. What are healthy farming practices. Or even native plants in my region.

But lily springs isn’t promoting we all drop our lifestyle and return to the farm. Consider their establishment an invitation. A place for everyone to come who wants to be re-acquainted with some old medicine with a new look.

My visit as a non-farmer helped me understand I’m just as important to the health of Lily Springs as Nina, Lindsay and Drew are for me.

My change today may be small, but, imagine if basics of agriculture were part of my youth education.

Imagine if I am expected as a citizen to be aware that certain easy to find house-hold garden treatment products contained toxins once used in war. Or that beautiful blue lakes will turn slimy and green because of my waste water? What if I had been taught to be a sustainable citizen and not the one I am today?

Metaphorically speaking soil is our culture.

Changing nutrition levels in soil is no quick procedure. One reason of many why many industrial farms are slow to change their methods. Lily Springs is all about soil health. Which makes sense if you are looking to have some lily’s spring up some day. Changing the soil is just like changing our perspectives. Both determine our environments and both are responsible for supporting a type of life. In lay man’s terms, good soil is a byproduct of the break down of living organisms. Much of which begins as muck and mud. Any farmer will tell the quality of life depends on the quality of life one has left. So when we fertilize for the next generation it’s best practice it be from healthy, balanced, organic matter.

What type of soil are you generating for yourself and your community?


Once upon a time all schools taught how to use tools and methods to enhance our lives. Many of which were domestic skills such as cooking, health, and shop class. Today, that education has been replaced with how to learn about tools. This quest to learn technology has become our life. This unbalance has no doubt effected the health of communities across the world. The reality is that when all is said and done, the Earth has a way of cleaning up a mess. Our try’s and tribulations will be of nothing to Earth.

But,if you feel Compelled to change yourself. Compelled to change the make up of your community. Compelled to be the Lily out of the muck in your own life.

Then go visit Lily Springs Farm in Osceola Wisconsin.

Go get reeducated. Go get regenerated. Go learn how to celebrate. Go get inspired. If the visit to Lily Springs is too far then start from within and let go. Let go of your greed. Let go of some pride, some righteousness, some entitlement, some fear, some hate, some phobia, some beliefs. Rejuvenate the soil within your own life by letting some death into your life. Because the truth is that whatever we as a specie collectively are holding onto; is toxic muck. Do this in celebration and support those who work through their muck. Do these things and there can be a new identity we can be proud of in this country.

Written by Peter Erik for

Lily Springs Farm: www.lilyspringsfarm.c

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