Thursday, March 26, 2009

Is it possible?

Is it possible to learn to farm approproiately within two years and then begin to teach it to others with some expertise? Is it possible to find six students who are interested enough in the 11-week experience that they are willing to pay for it? Is it possible to jam into those 11 weeks 3 full-sized curriculums: Homesteading, Urban Agriculture and Leadership Development? I am expectant. A few days ago, In my journal, I wrote something that I had no idea I was writing until the last 4 letters. I kid you not, it was bizarre... like "writing in tongues" or a glitch in the Matrix. The words that came out of my pen were, "everything is expected". They've grown on me, and in me. They've become a source of confidence. I am expectant. My heart wells up with excitement thinking about what could happen this summer... what 6 energetic, thought-full young adults could bring to our hodge-podge decoupage of large-hearted willing, workers. I am expectant.

To find the project application and forms, visit Common Ground Church after April 1.

For more information, join the Agri-Culture Summer Project group on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Update from A Fire Hydrant ...Love, Melanie

So, I’ve started this blog entry three times now…. So much has happened in the past few months, it’s hard to fathom. The first official student conference in October was the confidence booster we need to proceed with more of our envisioned dreams. We were fortunate enough to host a group from Ohio Wesleyn University for a 5-day student retreat only weeks after the conference. What a gift to have had condensed time like that with college students, a rarity! Then, we wanted to use the “down time” during the winter to continue educating ourselves and connecting with others about those “envisioned dreams.” So, Steve traveled to the ECHO site in Florida with the Pastor for strategic planning and networking. Steve spent 3 days gaining his Wilderness First Responder recertification. We butchered 5 pigs with 12 families as we revisited our quasi-Amish heritage. We both went to the PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) conference where we felt like we drank of the fire hydrant of farming information. We attended the Jubilee Conference (Can’t say enough about the learning there!) and made great staff and student connections. Steve interviewed candidates for the Director of Goodness Grows position at Common Ground Church, and re-newed conversations about a graduate program at a semi-local University. The kids and I took a field trip to a seed company in Berlin, Ohio, and we still had a weekend left before our “Spring Harvest Event” (Pig Party!).

Trying to capture the experience (or any experience, for that matter) on paper is somewhat of a “catch 22”. I want to get to it while it’s fresh in my memory, but my brain and body are a bit like mush. Plus, there’s so much decompression to take place still. We spent the last couple of days finding our bearings again: lists of short and long-term goals, details we had completely forgotten for 3 days…. (If YOU were one of those details, sorry)

Yet again, we are amazed at the response of our friends and their friends as they explore, discover and understand why we do what we do. It is a privilege to share in good hard work and “good, ordinary food” with great folks! Based on our mission statement, “To honor the Lord and enjoy Him through intentional Christian communal living, holistic education, and acts of creation care,” Steve introduced the weekend by inviting everyone to feast in the bounty and diversity of God’s creation….that we did! We compared our chickens and our eggs with store-bought ones and pigs raised on two different farms. Ask us sometime about the discoveries! We made about a gallon of maple syrup and enough soap for everyone to bring home a bar. We pruned our fruit trees, tapped more maple trees, fried potatoes in pig lard, and un-intentionally burnt the cracklins! (Literally, all in a day’s work!) Though not always easy, weekends like this honor our heart’s desire to live an “it’s possible” lifestyle! To the King! To the Restoration!!! ---Mel

Friday, February 13, 2009

Upcoming Encounter...EVENT?

A recent quote I found in Comment Magazine's December 08 issue reads, “Hearing Jesus speak was an encounter, a collision of one human presence with another. So powerful was this encounter that it became an event in the lives of those who experienced it.”

With that said, we hope to host an encounter which becomes an event in the lives of those who will attend. This encounter is our Lamppost Farm Spring Harvest weekend. I have pasted the business card sized invite we are handing out to folks.

Here are the details of the encounter. We will start at 5pm on Friday with dinner. Mel will prepare chicken from our farm and from the grocery store. Ever compare the broth from a pastured bird with that of a factory raised animal? We will!

Then, Friday evening, weather permitting, we will slaughter two pigs (one raised on pasture and one from a local pig farm). Will we find these to be different? We don't know, but we are excited to find out.

Saturday morning, we will collect sap from the maple trees on our property and being to cook it into syrup. After the fire is going, we will cut, wrap, and freeze the pork. We will begin the process of making bacon and ham. We will grind sausage and attempt our hand at stuffing it into casings. Then, after the syrup is finished, we will use the kettle to render the lard for soap making and the delight of cracklins'.

To top off the weekend, we will end with a fresh sausage gravy and biscuit dinner. Trust me when I say, "Sausage is never better than the day it is made."

If interested, call us at (330)-482-3246 or email us at The cost for students is $20. Scholarships are available.

Ok. So now the question is, How does this encounter become an event? I am glad you asked.

Briefly, encounters become events when people are touched deeply in relationship to themselves, one another, God, or God's wonder-filled creation. When people met Jesus, they collided with the God of the universe. Our hope is that Lamppost Farm is a place where Jesus lives through us and those who visit in ways that our lives "collide" and we are forever changed. It is true that relationships foster these encounters. And, encounters become EVENTS because in those relationships Christ is present.

Come. Create and encounter with us. And, watch it become an EVENT.

One other upcoming encounter that I wanted to let you know about: We are hosting our first Agri-Culture Summer Project. More info on that to come.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Twas the Year Twenty-08

‘Twas the year twenty-08 and all through the land,
the learning was plenty and the growing was grand.

Six Montys were learning to live and to love,
life at the Lamppost, a gift from above.

One great thing accomplished: building raised garden beds,
through the church greenhouses feeding mouths, hearts, and heads.

You’ll find Mel in her muck boots and Steve in his ball-cap,
Improvement and development happening…no time for a nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
Drew as the pitcher and Nate as the batter.

In the summer, college interns…future hope grew in a flash,
Into Youngstown to help urban youth pick up the trash.

Then back to the farm: making salsa, milking goats;
A clash of two worlds; Can it be? Is it so?

Then onto other projects as deadlines draw near:
Bathroom cabinets, concrete countertops, new siding all here.

Chickens and turkeys to process, on grass they grow quick;
Having great friends and mentors to help is certainly the trick.

In the spring, nine new goats from their moms’ bellies came,
Nate, Drew, Amelia, and Lucy all gave them their names;

“Now, Tootles! Now, Pitch! Now, Tumnus and Digory.
On Rascal! On Rose! On Erica and Jewelry.”

Don’t forget “Beauty”, weak and small,
Drew’s bottle-fed friend, and favorite of all.

So out to the hoophouse they go to stay warm,
While their moms “tend” a visitor, a big buck with large horns.

Now is a season of reflection and preparation too.
And, just like last winter, butcher pigs we will do.

Then, in a twinkling, the snow will go poof.
Plans of re-doing the kitchen as well as its roof.

For Mel to the Mom’s group to learn of her vision,
And Steve with some church men to learn from the Romans.

Lucy and Amelia will keep tumbling around.
In the local gym, our girls’ talents are found.

At Heartland and home-school the kids split their time,
In cub club, a talent show, on field trips they shine.

Nate’s trapping muskrats and training his dog.
Drew learning geography through the Amazing Race log.

Amelia loves reading and she sang in the play.
Lucy learns letters and numbers at “Montgomery school” each day.

Add growing and learning from books on the shelf.
But, our best teaching tool is the change of the self.

One thing we all learn from and love just the same,
Is the presence of others, like when students came.

Our first conference, “Regenerative Agriculture, Regenerative Faith”
Was true to it’s name, the attendees would say.

In the blink of an eye, 40 of us came and went.
We prepped, cooked and ate, and transformation was evident.

November brought 5 students from Ohio Wesleyan U
In five days, we learned about farms, faith and food.

This farm is a place where people can know
Their relationships matter, its where we all grow.

Relationships happen with God, self, and others.
And, with God’s creation we’re all called to partner.

God allows us to know Him in so many ways.
Walking, working, and playing fill our days.

His creativity abounds from the duck to the berry!
And, equally, in friendships, our lives become merry!

Students learning these things with us is our vision
This summer, some living here is our proposition.

As we live looking into our hearts we can know,
Christ’s love clears the dark and melts the cold snow.

Through two years of understanding and building Lamppost,
One thing’s at the heart, in the soul, and matters most:

“It’s relationship with Jesus!” we exclaim with delight,“To the KING!!! To the RESTORATION!!! Merry Christmas and good-night!”

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Regenerative Agriculture, Regenerative Faith"

Introducing the FIRST EVER Lamppost Farm College Student Conference!!!! On October 24-25, we are expecting 20-30 students from Malone College, Westminster College, Geneva College, and more, to join us for a stimulating, yet relaxing weekend. Optional camping and farm activities surround a one-day conference with incredible speakers and homesteading workshops. We are so thrilled to offer this conference to some surrounding college students and honored to faciliate with such leaders in building the kingdom as Martin Price, former Director of ECHO, and Don Opitz, author and Geneva College faculty.

Here is the post-card for the conference.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Long, Long Ago ... An Update... Finally.

Today is the 5th of December. The ground is covered with snow so the pictures from our last post look similar to what our lives in this new adventure are like at the moment. I could tell you that this was intentional. To continue with the Narnia theme, I could tell you that the snow motif represents the endless winter experienced thanks to the White Witch until Aslan shows up. But the truth is that an entire summer has passed without any updates or pictures of Lamppost Farm. I am regretful for this.

So much has happened in building this ministry since our last update. The short(er) list is as follows:
Remodeled the entire second floor of the house, including two bathrooms along with new wiring, insulation and windows in the whole house;
Raised 25 chickens that are producing a dozen eggs per day at the moment;
Raised and processed 50 meat chickens and 25 thanksgiving turkeys. We will increase to 300-500 chickens next summer and are still debating about the viability of raising turkeys;
Started a milking goat herd with four does who are expecting to birth kids in April;
Began planning a farmer’s market network to put together five fresh fruit and vegetable stops in the city of Youngstown starting this summer;
Coordinated with the Canfield Fair to receive Grand Champion grade manure and bedding for a compost program. The compost will be used in the greenhouses at the church as well as on the fields at the farm to rebuild the soil and build greener pastures;
Hosted numerous visits from family and friends (anyone is welcome to “drop in” and see the place);
Drew and Nate played baseball and football. And, Nate is attending the local Christian school;
Lucy and Amelia took dance lessons. And, they are finding farm life to be so much fun;
Mel helps with the church youth group, attends various women’s groups, and teaches Drew and Amelia at home;
I, with the help of my brother, Joe, finally have my woodshop in order. And, I will be milling logs into boards with the bandsaw mill we bought in May.

It is difficult to sum up what 8 months have contained. Through the time, we have been buoyed by confidence in the Lord’s call to this work in this place. We have struggled with being new and developing new patterns. We are leaning on the Lord for direction and sustenance. Just like the raspberry plants, given to us by our great friends and New Wilmington neighbors, Art and Rosemary Fuller, and planted on the day we moved here, we are starting to see fruit.

And, just like in the long winter of Narnia, where it is always winter but never Christmas. Aslan is on the move. The snow is starting to melt. Life is beginning to return. And, our first Christmas in Ohio is right around the corner.

I have included a few pictures of life in our new town and on the farm. Enjoy!

A few prayer requests are as follows:
Our friends, the Fullers, are battling cancer. Pray for wisdom and strength.
Work to be done over the winter to prepare for next year’s efforts.
Wisdom for running the business end of the ministry. Specifically, how do we market, account, manage, grow well?
Partners in this ministry. There are so many places for people to plug in. This is a prayer for the Lord to raise up fellow laborers.
Currently, our church meets at the local high school. We are a church in transition with much potential and much needed work.
The relationships of our family to those around us would be deepened, strengthened, and grounded in Christ.

To the KING!!! To the RESTORATION!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Welcome to Lamppost Farm Blog

This Blog will serve to provide pictures, articles, updates, and happenings of the ministry of Lamppost Farm. Here you will be able to follow the progress of the developing ministry that we are beginning at 14900 Market Street Ext., Columbiana, OH 44408.

Enjoy! Steve and Melanie Montgomery