Henning Sehmsdorf had a lifelong dream to be a farmer. Growing up in economically distressed post-war Germany in a large family, he and his siblings survived by growing food in a sizable home garden and by gleaning surrounding fields in exchange for food. Later in high school, he participated in “harvesting vacations,” where groups of schoolchildren worked the fields and the farmer delivered produce to the school cafeteria in return. As a young man he moved to the U.S., first earning a PhD and teaching at the University of Washington before a trip to Lopez Island brought him back to his dream of farming. Starting with 10 acres in 1970, Henning began to build the infrastructure of the farm while he continued to work at UW. Henning became a full-time farmer in 1994. He joined Washington State University as an adjunct professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1999. He serves on numerous boards and committees related to sustainable agriculture, farming, land stewardship and education. Henning chairs the Future Farm Council which meets monthly to review projects, work plans and budgets to transition the farm to community ownership. Since 2012, Henning has been a Mentor Farmer under the apprenticeship program offered by the Biodynamic Farming Association (www.biodynamics.com/napbdap).
Elizabeth Simpson grew up on a farm in Hood River, Oregon and was always involved with gardening, canning, freezing and making jam. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Oregon and her Ph.D. from the University of Washington, where she later taught and met Henning. In 1994 when Henning’s youngest child left home for college, Henning and Elizabeth decided to make the switch to full-time farming. Research and education continues to be an integral part of her life. In addition to farming, Elizabeth teaches English and sustainable farming classes as a part-time faculty member at Lopez High School. Elizabeth serves as a member of the Future Farm Council.
Johann Sehmsdorf, who runs S&S Woodworks, combines a science degree in wildlife biology with formal training in cabinet making in Germany, as well as many years of practical experience in woodworking in the US. When not on the farm, he serves as a firefighter in Bellevue, WA. Johann is a member of the Future Farm Council.
Evelyn Oostenburg, the 96-year old mother of Elizabeth, has been living on the farm for nearly eight years. "Mother," as she is known on the farm, taught geography in secondary school and college until hearing loss and eventually the onset of Alzheimer’s dementia cut short her lifelong passion for teaching. Her presence on S&S Homestead affirms Rudolf Steiner’s call for farms to provide support for the whole community, including the young and the old, and people with special needs.
Roy Ozanne (M.D., 1975, H.M.D., 1998) began his career as an allopathic physician and ecologist at the University of Wisconsin. Postgraduate studies in health lead him to study homeopathic medicine in Belgium, and he practices homeopathy on Whidbey Island today. He was the co-founder and medical director on Sandhill School of Healing Arts (1980-1993), and Cress Spring Farm Yoga Health Retreat (1996-2001). In 2007, he started Whole Health Programs and began participating in health-related workshops at S&S Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Roy serves on the Future Farm Council. Roy will take up residence on S&S Homedtead Farm in June, 2016.
Janet Lia has been teaching art and Bio-Dynamic Gardening to all ages for over 20 years. After finishing a 2-year training in Bio-Dynamic Agriculture in Scandinavia, Janet completed her B.A. with public teaching credentials (K-12, endorsements in Visual Arts and Agriculture). She continued her post graduate education, earning certificates inWaldorf Education, Figure and Portrait Drawing and Painting, and a 2-year Fine Arts Program. Janet lives with her family in Seattle where she teaches art in her studio, AWE Studio (Art With Everyone, www.janetlia.com). She also teaches at local schools, art centers, and as a Waldorf Teacher Trainer. With this background, Janet leads artistic activities contributing to the various biodynamic themes of annual workshops on the farm.
Together with his wife, Janet, Barry Lia has been practicing biodynamic husbandry ontheir urban homestead in Seattle for nearly 20 years, and they have led workshops introducing biodynamics locally in many venues. He completed a 2-year training in biodynamic agriculture with Dr. Andrew Lorand. Barry coordinates the Washington Biodynamic Group and works and consults on local biodynamic farms. As a member of the Section for Agriculture at the Goetheanum, he participates in biodynamic research. He is practicing the picture-forming method, capillary dynamolysis, and Goethe’s scientific methodology. Barry holds a Ph.D. in neurobiology and works as a clinical technologist at UW Medical Center. He helps plan and presents at annual workshops on the farm and serves on the Future Farm Council to explore the farm's transition to community ownership.
Michele Heller and her husband, Steve, own Heller Family Farm on Lopez Island where they grow certified organic greens, berries, fruits and vegetables. Michele, who holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in interior design from University of Washington, has been involved in environmentally sensitive low-impact projects in the San Juan Islands. Her long established interest in alternative health and wellness, and her keen awareness of the importance of sustaining life for all future well-being and the need to lessen our ecological footprint, led her to found Lopez Locavores which started with the idea of serving communal Evening Meals at the Lopez School (Link), and to become a major supporter of The Lopez Island Farm Education (LIFE) program which began as a collaborative, community effort involving the Lopez Community Land Trust (LCLT), the Lopez Island School District (LISD), the Lopez Island Family Resource Center, Lopez Island Education Foundation (LIEF), S & S Center for Sustainable Agriculture, San Juan County Conservation District, WSU Extension, and the Heller Family Foundation. On the farm, Michele serves as a member of the Future Farm Council.
Adam Lee (University of California, Santa Cruz, B.A., Sociology, 2010) completed his second apprenticeship-year under the NABDAP program at S&S Homestead Farm and received certification in December 2015. His interest in farming began as a young boy when he attended week long winter camps at Elkus Youth Ranch on the California coast, cleaning the sheep barn with friends and finding owl pellets. Since then he has volunteered at gardens (The Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz, CA and Grassroots Garden in Eugene OR), interned with the Organic Farming Research Foundation, and worked for three years with Winter Green Farm in Noti, Oregon as assistant field manager for their CSA and manager of a farmers' market booth in Portland. Being involved with the Oregon Biodynamic Group peaked his interest in the esoteric world of Biodynamics, inspiring him to focus on the practice by enrolling in the National Biodynamic Association's apprenticeship program. He sought out S&S Homestead Farm as a mentor farm to develop his relationships with animals, learn more about food processing, and to learn what it takes to operate a whole-diet CSA. Adam accepted a position as youth educator at Slide Ranch in Muir Beach, CA.
Grace Ward graduated from Bryn Mawr College in May 2014 with a degree in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology. She is very interested in agriculture through the lens of anthropology, and came to S&S Homestead as an intern in order to experience intentional farming practices firsthand and to understand the impact of agricultural life on the individual and community. After her time at S&S, she plans on studying anthropology at the graduate level with a focus on North American archaeology.
Janie Friedman came to S&S Homestead as a six-month intern in the summer of 2014. Raised in Florida suburbs, Janie's college years studying social sciences inspired her to seek out a deeper, more experiential relationship with food. Working with the community garden at New College of Florida and with the Center for Sustainability at Southern Oregon University, led her to Lopez Island to follow an interest in small-scale, community food production. Life as a part of the S&S Homestead farm organism has imbued her with a new understanding of the role as a stewarding, loving thread in the diverse web of life. Currently interning with the Lopez Community Land Trust to learn the basics of house construction, while continuing to live and work at S&S Homestead Farm on a part time basis, Janie hopes to incorporate her love of hands-on learning and belief in the power of community into her future endeavors. She is currently working at a Camphilll Community in Pennsylvania.
Deanna Perlman (U. of Georgia, B.S., Family and Consumer Science Education, 2007) apprenticed for a year in 2014 at S&S Homestead Farm to learn about the economic viability of a small-scale, integrated biodynamic farm. Her favorite work involved food processing and cheese making, and honing her long standing interest in natural fibers which on this farm means sheep wool. She developed a curriculum for our high school class, teaching how to turn a raw fleece into spun wool. Deanna is currently enjoying a 2-month residency at an artists‘ colony in Mexico, where she practices the finer points of fiber design and dyeing. She completed her NABDAP apprenticeship at Hill & Hollow Farm in Kentucky in December, 2015.
Kyle Brolis (Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, B.S., Environmental Science, 2011) is currently engaged in the first
of a 2-year NABDAP apprenticeship as an Americorps Service Volunteer at Camphill Village, Kimberton, Pennsylvania, where he works on a 15-acre biodynamic vegetable CSA. He joined S&S Homestead Farm in April, 2015 for the second year of his apprenticeship, with a focus on sustainable models of self-sufficient farms integrating the production of vegetation and animal husbandry. Starting in March, 2015, Kyle started working at Sweet Briar Farm on Lopez Island.
Abraham Polakunnil is currently an intern at S&S Homestead, He came to Lopez Island to expose himself to a community that appreciates and practices sustainable agriculture. He has Bachelors from Brooklyn College in Psychology with a focus on development and health.