Modern Folk

014 Luke Cirillo: Regenerative Pig Farming at Out of Ashes Farm

February 4, 2019

Around our house:

Well, my mom Margaret was in town for a little over three weeks in January. She came to visit with Emily and I yes, but truthfully she was here to be a grandma. She goes by Mimm and our daughter Clemence loves her. I think Mimm was the mom called her great aunt. It is a pretty good grandma name I feel. Anyhow, having my mom around definitely reinforced just how wonderful it is to have support when raising a family. Neither Emily or I have any family in central Oregon. So far, our work schedules have been such that we have not needed any childcare, and for that we are so thankful but it is a busy life and having Mimm around gave us time to work on our home, see some friends and have some dates together.

It seems ironic, hypocritical, or something like that to me that I simultaneously talk about the importance of family and elders so much on this show, but also live so far away from my own family. I think about it all the time. One thing I talk and think about is the individualism and the sense of entitlement of younger generations, including myself. I take full responsibility for striking out on my own when I was 23 and moving all the way across the country leaving my family and the place I grew up to move to a place where I new no one, had no community. At the time, that move was fueled by a need to get out of the suburbs and out of the city, towards the mountains, like minded people and a slower pace of life.

15 years later I still feel those initial imperatives, but things have changed a bit. While the initial draw to this place was mountain bike trails, snowboarding, and rock climbing I have since truly fallen in love with the people, the forests, and the land. I have been inspired and drawn in by the work people are doing in the Northwest to build vibrant small businesses that are responsible to their communities. I am watching as my friends follow their dreams to become farmers, artists, musicians, healers, and advocates for social change. Many of them have been featured on this podcast.

So anyhow, I miss my family so very much, but I don’t think that I could ever move back closer to my family and keep my sanity. I know that there are people doing similarly great work in Atlanta and probably all over the country, and I would love to hear more about it all, I just haven’t seen it and felt it the way I do in the northwest. I would like to think that everyone feels that way about where they live. I hope so. I hope that when people look around they are proud of what their neighbors and community members are doing. I would really love to hear more about other people feelings around these ideas. I know that so many of my friends have moved away from their homes for various reasons. When you step back and evaluate it all, what do you feel? Or if you are living where you grew up, what do you feel about that? What connection do you have to the place where you put your roots? Is it one that you are fond of? I often wish that I was generations into a place, and reaping the rewards of longstanding connection to a place. What does that feel like? So yeah, this is just me thinking and feeling out loud, kinda canoeing in the sea of my own individualism and entitlement and trying to make sense of it all. Fun stuff huh???

We recently had a gathering to celebrate the January Wolf Moon Total Lunar eclipse. The gathering was great. A handful of friends joined us around the fire to ponder the heavens and give thanks. We didn’t, see the moon however. It was too cloudy out. I thought it was a bummer, but my friend Cathasach informed me that historically it may have been considered a bad idea to look directly at such celestial events. So perhaps things worked out just as they should have.

Right about the time of the release of this show Emily and I will be doing our second new moon cleanse of the year. This is just a quick three day cleanse we have commited to doing each new moon. Last month was great.

Oh yeah, our couch! The couch that I made turned out great. It took about three days of my work, if I had more proper tools and a better workspace or friendly weather, I could probably have done it in a day. That’s for my work on the frame. Alicia at NW Trading Post and Howl Attire made custom waxed canvas covers and they turned out amazing. We are happy to support a local artist in the building of our furniture.

Oh, and another update on the downgrading of my phone. I have been enjoying and benefitting from not having the internet in my pocket. All in all it has been a great thing. I do miss the camera and group text but hey, small price to pay to take some of my time back. The first time I really regretted changing to a simpler phone was when I was recording the interview you are getting ready to listen too. The sound quality is noticibly less good than on a more sophisticated phone, so I apologize for that both to my listeners and to Luke, my guest.



Luke Cirillo is a farmer at Out of Ashes Farm, along with his wife Allison. About 7 years ago Luke and Allison moved out to a little farm in Redland, Or, without really knowing what they were doing. They still consider themselves learners. As time has gone, they have gained greater clarity about the shape their farm is taking, and how they want to serve the ends of local ecological farming. 

Luke and Allison focus on water-harvesting systems, soil building, perennial poly-cultures and small animal production systems. They breed pigs and raise them for meat harvest, chickens and ducks for eggs, and set all of that in the context of fruit, nut and berry production. Their system is still quite young, but already beginning to take shape.

I hope you enjoy the interview with Luke.


Modern Folk logo by Stefan Perkinz
Theme music by Lee Rosevere

Support for Modern Folk comes from my wife Emily Wiggins.
Emily is a Naturopathic Doctor in Bend OR.


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