Blog : For Zev Yoga, Sustainability Extends Far Beyond Business Practices

By Katie | Oct 13, 2014 | in

For years, couple Jonas Zev and Amylyn Amberger have referred to themselves as “first generation farmers," a term they based on their disproportional amount of farming experience after acquiring a plot of farm land in Eliot, Maine. Today, they are quick to point out that the “first generation farmers” label does not accurately describe who they are or what they envision for Shilo Farm's future.

The Ambergers, owners of Zev Yoga Studio, admit to being not really farmers (though, after visiting their home and seeing the yard filled with goats, chickens, bees, flowers and herbs, one would beg to differ), but rather stewards, with dreams of offering guests a glimpse into the peaceful rhythms of a working homestead. Part of that experience comes as Jonas and Amylyn ready to open their farm as a bed and breakfast this winter. The finished project will be unlike any B&B in the area.

“My personal philosophy is to live close to the land," explained Jonas. “We purchased this thinking we would certainly use it for farming, but after walking the land we realized the property wanted to become more than just a homestead."

"It is meant to be a place where community gathers and where guests can unplug from the busyness of their lives and enjoy the serene surroundings with the amenities of Portsmouth just around the corner,” he added.

After just a few minutes of speaking with Jonas and Amylyn it's clear they have an extremely close relationship with the land. Walking through the property its evident that the couple listened to the land as they planned its design. It feels comfortable, accommodating and true to the rustic charm of a New England farm. The couple began making modifications to the lot and home shortly after they purchased the land in 2012, incorporating sustainable designs throughout.

Had the Ambergers cleared more trees and brought in additional livestock, the couple could have a steady production of goats milk, eggs, and more to turn a profit in the community and beyoond. But that’s not what working the land is about for either Jonas or Amylyn. Instead of turning their home into a mass-production farm-stand, they want to focus on small-scale sustainable living. The Ambergers employ a micro-eco farming model, which resembles an older generation of farming, before GMOs, growth hormones and heavy machinery ruled agriculture. While their production is less than the larger, corporate farms, Jonas and Amylyn grow enough to feed themselves and their guests.

Located just four miles from the scenic bustle of downtown Portsmouth, Shilo Farm's intimate setting offers guests the amenities and conveniences of city life in addition to the quiet respite for those who truly want to get away. With a maximum capacity of eight guests, those staying at Shilo Farm can enjoy the serenity of farm life with daily yoga at the farm's on-site studio. Through the B&B the Ambergers hope to build a community, even if only for a night, where guests connect with each other and the land, by providing nearly everything guests need for their stay from the farm. Community movie nights will take place in the barn, where the Ambergers intend to show films that stimulate insightful discussion amongst their guests. Children can explore the land, help milk the goats, participate in a chicken egg hunt, and enjoy a night by the fire pit. Adults can indulge in an herbal foot soak, with flora straight from the garden.

The Amberger's plans for Shilo Farm are plentiful, and all eco-friendly. Between the conversion of the unoccupied portion of the barn into guest quarters, and the hope to one day have fiber-producing animals (sheep or alpacas), there are also plans to build a guest's tree house. Situated between two mature oaks, the tree house will offer more than just a children’s play-place. Once completed, it will be available for occupancy and complete with an adjacent wood-burning sauna and shower house.

As a member of the Green Alliance, a union of over 100 local, sustainable businesses, Zev Yoga has been green since 2006. The studio focuses on traditional, holistic approaches to promote overall health, while keeping membership prices far lower than comparable studios in Portsmouth, making health improvement accessible to a larger population. Jonas also utilizes the studio as a community space; opening it up for gatherings, educational events, and workshops accessible to the public. The Shilo Farm House, located at 88 Beech Road in Eliot, Maine, is scheduled to open to guests starting in December with a planned completion date for the barn in May 2015. To schedule your stay call (603)-501-9292.

Looking to try yoga? Green Card holders can purchase a one month trial membership at any Zev Yoga Studio for only $25! Annual memberships start at $25/month for new members and $40/month for returning members as well!