Click on facilities in image for details and links
Cook's Mill Learning Center
Scotts, Michigan, USA
Tillers' main facility and administrative offices are located at the Cook's Mill Learning Center in Scotts, Michigan. Just west of Kalamazoo and south of I-94, Cook's Mill is conveniently located equidistant from Detroit and Chicago. With 430 acres of pasture, forest, pond, stream, fields, and facilities, Cook's Mill is a uniquely equipped home for Tillers' staff and students. Tillers' classes take place at the Cook's Mill Learning Center unless otherwise specified.
Click to view a PDF of Tillers' Cook's Mill Learning Center Master Plan (1.9M).
Wykoff, Minnesota, USA
DreamAcres is an organic farm nestled in a beautiful valley outside Spring Valley, Minnesota. Todd Juzwiak and Evie Barr live the life of dreams. With their two children, the family runs a 30 member CSA with oxen. The house, built during the 1995 timber framing class, is as comfortable as it is practical. Visitors hardly realize the farm is off the electrical grid. A hand pump at the kitchen sink draws water for cleaning dishes, and cooking is done on a wood stove. Todd and Evie are working to create an intentional community, and have partnered with Tillers to teach homesteading skills. In the classes offered at DreamAcres, families gain many of the skills they need to start towards their own homesteading goals.
During the 1990s, Todd and Evie, the farming founders of DreamAcres, gathered seeds of knowledge and inspiration from their time spent at the Tillers International site on Kilgore Road in Kalamazoo. They took these seeds and sowed them in a fertile valley of the blufflands of Southeast Minnesota. A unique link has sprouted as a result. While Tillers International has developed into a world-class training center at Cook's Mill, DreamAcres has taken that training in innovative, low-capital technologies and created a viable, rural homstead. It is a place where the skills, knowledge, and spirit of experimentation of Tillers have taken root to provide the framework for a small-scale homestead.
The hallmarks of rural skills all converge to provide a working model. Animal power is utilized in the growing of organic vegetables for a 30 member community supported agriculture (CSA). The horses and oxen also play a vital role in hay making, logging, collecting firewood, and farm hauling. Woodworking skills have helped to create everything from neck yokes (for oxen and people) to a collection of timber framed outbuildings. The art of blacksmithing can be seen in the farm's hinges, railings, tools, and repairs to farm machinery. Low tech/strong back needs have led to restacking limestone foundations and building new rock walls. On the high tech/strong mind side, the farm is supported by solar power, both in electricity production and water heating.
Experimentation and innovation are driving forces at DreamAcres. The 2008 Timber Framing class constructed an ice house. The impetus behind this age old cooling method is to experiment with its use today as a simple means of adequate refrigeration for summer vegetables. Ice is hauled from the stream to the ice house with horses, then packed away in sawdust. The development of alternative systems combined with the taste for good food has lead DreamAcres to build a certified kitchen. 2008 marked the official opening of the first off-the-grid, solar powered, certified commercial kitchen in the state of Minnesota.
While DreamAcres is attempting to be self-reliant and self-sufficient, it is reaching beyond itself to engage its community and the world. DreamAcres offers workshops in partnership with Tillers, the start of an outreach that stretches to Flourish (a summer arts and agriculture camp) farm tours, a CSA, and theatrical productions in the barn. Call or write for more information on DreamAcres and sustainable living in the United States.
With the Inwood stream cutting through the cedar lowlands on the northeast corner, a glimpse of Lake Michigan to the north, and protection from the west by a maple covered drumlin ridge, the site of this farmstead hides in the center of 146 acres with about 80 acres of rich clay loam fields. Tillers will develop Inwood as a Learning Center focused on small-scale, direct market farming and artisan skills. Mark Maier and volunteers are working on restoring farmstead buildings and initiating garden and small livestock activities. This restoration includes some timber framing and stone masonry. We are working to energize it with solar, wind, and firewood.