The trees are filtering the late-October sunlight, casting a golden-hour glow on the small pond beside me even though the sun won’t set for several more hours. I’ve been following a trail that took me along some pastures before thrusting me into the woods, searching for a place called Copper Cup, at least I think it’s a place. When I find it, I realize it’s an actual, uh, copper cup, with a sign encouraging the trail weary to throw back a swig of the fresh spring water.
It’s delicious. Just like every other thing here.
I’m on the main campus of The Ground, a growing cluster of projects that are rooted (ahem, sorry) in the best practices of permaculture and hospitality. What began as a thoughtful-yet-small homesteading operation has blossomed into a full-blown cathedral project timeline. Which is to say, everyone involved with The Ground understands that what they are building is a foundation for future generations to carry forward into scaffolding and architecting the future.
Currently, The Ground’s projects include: Tabula Rasa Farms, Source Farms, Humble Spirit (a restaurant in McMinnville), Stillwater (an event and catering space in McMinnville), Grounded Body (a wellness facility), and Inn the Ground (a Bed & Breakfast), all tucked away in the pastoral beauty of Yamhill County.
The Inn appears, at first glance, to be a familiar, modern space, single-storey, all wood beams and glass to take advantage of the glorious view of the surrounding farmland. There’s a great room with a roaring fire flanked by an open kitchen and dining room.
But this inn is Inn the Ground after all, and there is more than meets the eye. The overnight accommodations are downstairs, underground, built into the side of the hill. This earthy design gives you a palpable sense of connection to the land, and invites you into a deep and tranquil silence.
My room has a view of the pasture where cattle are lazily grazing, enjoying the final sun-filled days of Oregon’s Autumn. Off to the right is the Sacred Oak, the last soldier standing from the old grove turned pasture.
After a tour of the various projects, and a self-guided exploration of Shangri-la, a series of ponds designed to improve the water table on the farm, I head into McMinnville for dinner at Humble Spirit.
It’s rather difficult to describe the magic of feeling so connected to what’s around you–to know exactly where the food you’re eating came from. It’s strange to be so captured by something that would be unremarkably normal for most people for most of history, but in a monoculture world, the beauty and deliciosity of real food, grown locally and prepared with skill, is, well, magical.
After dinner I take the house-made Oreo cookies to go, and make my way back to the inn as the sky turns itself to indigo. It’s a quiet, peace-filled evening and I swear sleeping without traffic noise expanded my city-dwelling soul by a size or two.
In the morning, the sun tries and fails to pierce through the thick, misty fog that has filled in all the small valleys surrounding my underground room, and yeah, I feel like I’ve stumbled into the world of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
Have I mentioned that the folks running The Ground are hospitality geniuses? They’ve thought of everything. A bevy of snacks sits quietly beside a Ratio Six, with spring water and Ratio’s own pre-ground, pre-dosed coffee. Hashtag heaven.
I make my way upstairs to the kitchen where a multi-course meal of locally harvested food awaits me. Green juice from the garden, fresh eggs from the henhouse, and ham from the forested swineherd. Add in more Ratio coffee and Smith tea, along with a thick slice of house-made sourdough, and I’m probably going to be done eating for a while. Which is just as well, cuz nothing will ever taste this good again.
To learn more about The Ground, book a stay or an experience of permaculture, head to theground.love and learn how everything is connected.