Why a Coastal Farmhouse B&B Is Going Off-Grid

At North Fork 53, say hello to river views—and goodbye to cell reception and wifi.

By Kelly Clarke May 19, 2016 Published in the June 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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The North Fork 53 B&B complex’s tiny farm store, near  Manzanita

Image: North Fork 53

The coastal farmhouse known as North Fork 53 offers many things. Deep, nap-ready couches. Sun-warmed wooden decks. Pretty views of the Nehalem River. Oven-fresh cocoa biscotti and occasional cannabis-themed dinners. What the B&B doesn’t have at all is cell reception or Internet access. “A lot of people want to live sustainably, but it’s overwhelming,” says director Ginger Edwards. “We show you how to start.”

Burrowed deep in a forest about 15 minutes north-east of Manzanita and opened to guests last winter, North Fork 53 is a farm-to-table showcase for Edwards’s adjacent R-Evolution Gardens, and an off-the-grid experiment guests can watch evolve. Over five “grueling” months of renovation in 2015, Edwards and her skater-turned-welder-and-tincture-maker husband, Brigham, labored over every inch of this 1930s dairy farm. Brigham hand-pressed gleaming copper pennies to form a border around a claw-foot tub. Stacks of thematically apt books (Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Oregon Birds) line a hall nook. An Australian shepherd named Roscoe escorts lodgers to the farm’s wide front porch.

The B&B lies near Edwards’s own home and farm, which the Michigan native transformed into a hydro- and solar-powered nirvana so tightly managed she knows precisely how much firewood to cut to roast a chicken. The complex, which hosts events like weddings and bar mitzvahs all summer, is already the linchpin of a set of farmers and business owners turning this sleepy stretch of coastline into a sustainable-goods destination, selling herby soap, pear purée, and free-range beef. “It’s the full experience—seeds in the dirt to vegetables on the plate,” she says.

North Fork is on-grid for now, but solar panels and hydro-electricity are set to replace the power company by 2020. The outdoor cob oven and permaculture garden are a start. For visitors, though, this ethos simply translates into farm tours, cheesemaking and herb planting classes, and deftly prepared breakfasts. Just keep that cell phone in your suitcase. 

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