Sustainability in Future Living Innovative Path - Fall 2020 - Olin College

Thank you for visiting this website. Hopefully, you'll get an impression of what a micro-campus community of five to twelve students at an established off-grid farm in North Carolina could look like! We will cover a variety of project opportunities that can individually be adjusted to student needs.

We made this website for everyone: students, staff, professors, parents, and alumni. We already found an awesome group of twelve students who are extremely excited to start their semester at the farm. Furthermore, we have received great support from alumni, staff, and faculty in form of expertise and money. For more future updates and fundraising options, please visit our website.

The FAQ document contains responses to the questions submitted on the interest form. You can edit the FAQ document to add questions. However, please contact us directly if you wish to ask us questions as we don't check the FAQ anymore.

Your home next semester:

Woodland Harvest Mountain Farm, North Carolina!

Located in the lush, biodiverse mountains of Southern Appalachia, Woodland Harvest is nestled in a beautiful forest filled with natural freshwater springs, native wildlife, and vibrant flora.

Here are just some of the subjects that the farm specializes in:

Permaculture Farming · Off-Grid Living · Grey-Water System · Renewable Energy · Composting · Organic Biodynamic Gardening · Solar Energy · Natural Healing

Woodland Harvest Mountain Farm has hosted over 2,500 worktraders, students, and interns throughout the past 15 years. Over the last seven years, they have partnered with institutions like Wellesley College, University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University, and many others, to host and facilitate alternative breaks and service trips in addition to hosting work traders, volunteers, interns and workshops seasonally.

Corona Safety Measures

The farm is a self-contained environment at the end of a long road. However, everyone will have to agree on the following rules to ensure their own safety and the safety of their fellow community members:

  • Students are encouraged to be as self-contained as possible in their trip to the farm. They should try minimize contact with others until they reach the farm.
  • Students will arrive in separate groups at separate times, and upon arrival will self-quarantine with their travelling companions in a cabin for 14 days.
  • Students will have to wear masks when they go into town.
  • Wash hands, wash hands, wash hands.
Go kayaking on North America's oldest river, harvest some veggies for breakfast, or hang with the cats

Project Opportunities

"Olin instills passion and ignites innovation by focusing engineering students on the needs of people in the real world."

Additionally to books, there will be satellite WiFi.

We are in contact with several Olin alumni that are interested in supporting student projects in various ways. Please let us know if you are an alumni and interested in helping out.

Here are some concrete project inspirations:

  • Build your own cabin using recycled and self-foraged material from the forest.
  • Model, design, and build a hot tub that uses fresh spring water.
  • Improve the existing solar system or build portable stand-alone solar systems that measure, for instance, soil moisture.
  • Design and build a Green Power House prototype (closed-loop biochar algea greenhouse).
  • Design an interface for communal electricity and water consumption.
  • Analyze the energy and cost efficiency of existing systems at the farm.
  • Conduct a financial analysis of a sustainable living lifestyle.
  • Study how different eco-systems benefit from each other in a permaculture setup.
  • Build your own pottery kiln out of self-harvested clay.
  • Conduct an anthropological study of a community created by farmers and engineers.
  • Conduct a life cycle analysis of a permaculture farm.
  • Build a bike-powered washing machine (or dryer, or anything!)

These above projects serve as a first inspiration. Students will be able to create projects suited to their needs (credits, interests, group partners). Satellite WiFi will be provided.

Who lives at the farm?

"Greetings Olin Staff & Students!

We are elated about the potential opportunity to collaborate with Olin College of Engineering this fall semester! Through conversing and brainstorming with Leon, a dedicated and passionate Olin student and dear new friend, we envision a unique, dynamic life changing partnership between Woodland Harvest Mountain Farm and Olin students. Visiting students will have the opportunity to live and learn at Woodland Harvest, become immersed in homesteading in the Appalachian Mountains, learn from guest educators, and carry out their own learning and projects while here. The potential for students to gain real world, hands-on experience will be pivotal to the holistic learning experience Olin will offer in collaboration with Woodland Harvest. Furthermore, the mutually beneficial relationship will provide Woodland Harvest with financial security and long-term contributions towards systems and projects of the land such as our small off-grid energy, food security and small community livlihood.

Thank you all for entertaining this creative collaborative opportunity and we look forward to talking more! We're happy to make ourselves available for email and phone conversations!"

With Gratitude & Excitement,

Elizabeth & Lisa

From left to right: Aydan, Elizabeth, and Lisa

About Elizabeth and Lisa

Elizabeth West and Lisa Redman bring their experiential education backgrounds to life at Woodland Harvest! Elizabeth has been an outdoor environmental educator since the late 80’s, and has worked as an Outward Bound instructor and with adjudicated youth in the wilderness; she has taught middle school, high school, community college and university writing courses, each with a focus on social justice. Elizabeth purchased the land in 1999 and immediately began sharing the space with volunteers, family, students and friends to co-create the Woodland Harvest visions. She's spent many years putting methods into practice during her work in the global justice movement. She received her Permaculture Design Certificate as part of a barter and utilizes these skills at local, national and global actions and mobilizations, in urban settings, on the farmstead, and during travels. She received her BA in English from Appalachian State University and MAT in English Education from Boston University. She’s a passionate activist, teacher, mother and homesteader with deep love for social and environmental justice locally and globally.

Lisa, born and raised in the mountains of Appalachia, has been driven by her passion to steward the earth since she was a child. She's worked in the local non-profit realm as a grant writer and community advocate, co-founded an international non-profit in graduate school, mentored numerous student & community entrepreneurs with a focus on social & agricultural projects, and is a trained group facilitator. She received a BS in Community and Regional Planning, and a MA in Geography with a focus on human-environment interaction from Appalachian State University. She holds a Permaculture Design Certificate and enjoys living life through an "abundance" lens. After becoming a widow with two young children in 2010, the importance of healing found in nature was more clear to her than ever. Lisa and her sons joined Woodland Harvest in 2011 and found profound healing and purpose in the sacred native forests and through the unique and powerful work of the teaching and learning homestead. She jumped in feet first and found a beautiful new life together with Elizabeth at Woodland Harvest. Lisa is deeply connected to her spiritual self and loves to share her love and wisdom with others through connecting with nature, wildcrafting, culinary arts, tarot, earth-based rituals, and through her budding "light-work" including Reiki.

Elizabeth and Lisa bring together their diverse backgrounds to help groups and individuals organize, facilitate, support and manifest workshops, trainings, and multi-day programs focused around anything from direct-democracy and conflict resolution to do-it-yourself skillshares and writing workshops, spiritual ceremonies, homestead living skills, event planning, and more. We make every effort to provide groups a unique and holistic experience that is specially created to fulfill each group’s visions, needs, desires, and delight in sharing this sacred abundant land.

About Aydan:

Aydan, Lisa and Elizabeth's youngest son, is turning 16 years old in December. He is an adventurous, kind, and animal-loving spirit who has endless compassion in his heart for all living things. He loves to cook, skateboard with his brother Landrum, care for the animals on the farm, listen to music, unicycle, swim, and hopes to be a fisherman someday. Aydan is wise beyond his years and talented in a variety of areas. His latest interest is trapping and skinning small animals like squirrels and raccoons, and tanning their pelts.

There's never a dull day at Woodland Harvest, with so many animal friends around

What would a typical week look like?

FOOD: The farm accomodates for all diets, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and others. Meals will be cooked communal style in the main kitchen of the house; possibly, a schedule for who cooks on what day will be made so that everyone contributes equally.

PROJECTS/WORK: Students will have ample time to dedicate to their chosen projects each day. If you have nothing to do at any point, Lisa, Elizabeth, or Aydan may ask you for help on another farm-related project. This includes gardening, caring for animals, chopping wood, building shelters, organizing tools, etc.

DOWNTIME: We will be surrounded by a vast expanse of woodland, where there are beautiful hiking trails, horses in a nearby pasture, and streams and creeks to explore. The house is filled with art supplies, books on every subject imaginable, cookware, musical instruments, and sports equipment that everyone is welcome to use. Students will also be able to use one of their bikes to go into lovely West Jefferson town, which is just fifteen minutes away. There are also plenty of spots to start a bonfire and make some s'mores!

GROUP CHECK-INS: Every week, students will come together with the inhabitants of the farm as a group to meet and discuss the past week. What were some difficulties we faces? What went well? How can we work better together as a team? These check-ins will be essential to get to know each other better, gain a better understanding of the farm, and share our thoughts and feelings with our community.

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES: The surrounding area is one of the most impoverished in the country, with about 20% of inhabitants living below the poverty line. Students can conduct independent volunteer projects at local homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and safehouses for the residents of Ashe County, NC.

Elizabeth, Lisa, and Aydan have a ton of other skills they can share with you! Here's what you can learn from them:


  • Collect your own natural plant dyes and tie-dye clothes
  • Jewelry making
  • Make your own screens for screen-printing on textiles
  • Interior design with natural and recycled materials
  • Painting, drawing, and watercolor


  • Make your own vinegar, pickles, jam, kimchi, tea, and kombucha
  • Canning and food preparation
  • Grow and harvest your own fresh vegetables, mushrooms, and fruit
  • Cob oven cooking including pizza, cookies, and bread baking
  • How to cook simply and cheaply
  • How to cook for a variety of diets such as vegan or gluten-free


  • Horseback riding
  • Animal husbandry
  • Rotational grazing
  • Build and set humane live traps for small game
  • Humane harvesting of animals
  • Holistic farm-to-table butchering
  • Skinning, gutting, and tanning the hides of animals
  • Raising free-range poultry and livestock
  • Fishing


  • Fire-spinning
  • Wild crafting
  • Primitive skills and orienteering
  • Proper tool usage and maintenance
  • Make your own salves, lotions, and other cosmetics
  • Restorative forestry
  • Unicycling
  • Juggling
  • Natural building with cob, wood, and rock
  • Kayaking
  • Non-violent direct action

Are you interested in this project? Let us know what you think!

We want to include everyone in this process of navigating next semester. If you are interested in being part of the micro-campus community, fill out the form below or let us know via a short email (contact info at the bottom of this page). We're excited to make this happen together! Future decisions will be made collectively and in consolidation with the Pathfinding Deliberative Committee.

You can edit the FAQ document, and add more questions. All questions from the interest survey are in the FAQ document.

See you there!

To contact us directly:

Leon Santen - lsanten@olin.edu - central contact - class of '21

Woodland Harvest Mountain Farm - woodlandharvestmtnfarm@gmail.com - contact Lisa and Elizabeth directly

Karen Hinh - khinh@olin.edu - student contact - class of '23

Linda Vanasupa, Ph.D. - lvanasupa@olin.edu - micro-campus community partner

Thank you again for visiting this website! I visited Woodland Harvest in early June of this year right after submitting our micro-campus proposal, and fell in love with the land and the people. I saw a great opportunity for my classmates to thrive in this space, and the principles upheld by this farm strongly reminded me of why I chose to attend Olin. I sincerely hope that we can come together and have an amazing learning experience at this site.

- Leon Santen, class of 2021


Photos by Leon Santen