Eco Learning Center

10277 Bingham Rd.
Traverse City, MI 49684
Phone: (231) 620-4775

For More Information Contact:
Jayne Leatherman-Walker

Jobs, Internships and Volunteer Opportunities

Job Announcement:

Michigan CSA seeks Biodynamic Farm Manager:
Eco Learning Center CSA vegetable farm north of Traverse City, Michigan seeks Biodynamic manager to take charge of the food-supply side of this nonprofit organization. Intensive plantings, extended seasons, petroleum-free production. The ELC needs experienced grower to increase output for growing market. Applicant will want to have outside source of income and/or be independently wealthy because we are working on turning a profit. Fertility is our primary asset and nutrition our standard. Hoophouses are in place and farmed acreage is expandable.

We model sustainable community in our local economy. A MI 501 c3 we started our business in 1999 and are expanding in our food production and education outreach. The ELC can serve as a living laboratory for someone who seeks additional responsibility and experience. Apply only if you have a commitment to making change in the universe one square foot at a time because this one is not about the money and time is of the essence. X-generation farmers in training with experience in biodynamics might apply. Percent of vegetable production sales after expenses available as hard-earned reward.

Serious inquiries can be directed to Jayne Leatherman-Walker at 231-620-4775 or send email to

Job Announcement:

Interns and Volunteers:
This message is coded for the adventurous. Join us in the summer for the continuing design process and building of an Eco-Learning Center. A core group is forming. Everyone participates in the creation of the framework for Permaculture, cultivates food for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and attends workshops in sustainable agricultural practices and building techniques. To become a member of this core group experience, a willingness to learn and much enthusiasm, is required (send resume). A sound body and a creative mind are understood. Knowledge of organic growing, Biodynamics, Permaculture, or any natural farming techniques will be useful. Participants will camp on site. Conditions are primitive. For each summer, our primary focus continues to be the cultivation of several acres of organic vegetables for a small CSA. People skills are useful for interaction with participants and subscribers of the CSA. Workshops on strawbale construction, Permaculture, alternative energy, and sustainable agriculture will be free to core group. Some time will be spent in creating the ground rules for "community" and designing a plan for sustainable community on site for future camps. Expect to work hard, enjoy the outdoors, learn about sustainability and yourself.

The work here is very basic and extremely physical. It is very much like homesteading, and probably much like 3/4s of the world's living conditions. So I look for a "team" of hardworking visionaries who will learn by doing and this is the "place" to get some practice. The concept will have to grab you because it is about dedication maybe even passion. Currently the working aspect of the project is the Farm. It is about growing food for a small group of CSA (community supported agriculture) families who are increasingly active in the "plan". There is one hoop house built (11'x 80') which has added another dimension to our food possibilities, especially winter greens (and I am thinking summer hot crops- peppers, eggplant, tomatoes). So I hope to build another "hoophouse". Facilities need to be constructed to expand the comfort levels of those who camp, workshop, or grow here. I have the plans for a solarshower, a composting outhouse, and an open-air kitchen that I hope to see executed in a timely manner. Ducks and chickens would help to alleviate pest pressures, as well as provide another food source.They will need protection from the farm fox. In the meantime the farmscape is primitive, in transition to greener "archi-types".

The past four years, most of the internships have been local, part time, voluteer and/or working for a share of the produce. The first year, two interns camped for the summer. This year, there have been more inquiries for summer visits (June-Aug), of which I think 2-3 are serious. Our work season begins February and runs through October.

The farm is off the grid for power, has a solar submersible well, with an outdoor hydrant for fresh water. There is a composting toilet outhouse. (we believe in humanure for orchards) There are solar hotwater bags for showers, and the lake warms up by July. We grow everything to eat here as well as for distribution. Everybody cooks. For additional resources there is a Coop/organic grocer in Traverse City (10 miles away) as well as the rest of american food sources. The daylight hours allow us to work long days, and we break for the heat midday if the sun is too intense and the degrees over 89..... so we are up in the morning, out on the job until the sweat bees bite, then we cool off, swim, run errands, network til mid afternoon when we resume work into evenings...

There are two strawbale buildings, a small tool shed and a greenhouse. Putting up mud plaster is educational and recreational. A current focus is water for irrigation. The droughts of the recent years have made this aspect extremely time consuming. But every season, we have devised labor saving techniques and our next approach, working within the natural landscape, we may find a means to work smarter.

The management style is cooperative. You will get initiated and you'll have to understand and believe in the plan to find the rhythm (Responsibility). You will do what you love and do best, for the good of the project, and pitch in with the stuff that has to get done. Because, everybody works hard till the job is done. We eat together, live life together, etc. Farm work is usually 7 days a week... Consider this an intensive immersion workshop!! Does it sound like a bee hive of activity?...

As the man said: This is the apple. You can put it down and it will compost itself. Or you can take a bite and it will become a part of you forever. Let me know your intentions: phone: 231-620-4775 or email or write Jayne Walker, 10277 E. Bingham Road, Traverse City, MI. 49684.

Thoreau believed that if a community chose to have a center for learning, then the students needed to be the ones to lay the foundation. These are the students, volunteers, and support network who committed their time and energy to the workshops and farming at the Eco-Learning Center. As learners, each person considers his/her labor an investment in the future of the community and of the planet. As individuals, these are students learning about their personal potential. Everyone is committed to the act of doing something to effect change. There should be a round of applause for their efforts. They are the future leaders, building a framework in which humans exist in concert with the ecosystem.