In the fall of 2009, we had an idea. We wanted to find some land, and make a big change—a change in us and in those around us. We happened upon our dream by chance during a drive around Jasper, Ga., and we knew it was perfect! Slowly but surely, we converted an active horse farm into our own little paradise. We called it Wolfscratch Farm, and our dream to live more sustainably and grow our own food while improving the land and increasing the biodiversity around us slowly took shape. When we started, we never imagined that our small dream would turn into a project to feed more than 60 families through a CSA and workershare program.
Farming with Intention
Wolfscratch Farm uses sustainable farming techniques that blend biodynamic, organic, and good old-fashioned hard work to produce naturally grown, chemical-free food that is as good for the environment as it is for our bodies and souls. We farm with intention and try to look at the farm as a whole, living thing to nurture and nourish while the land gives back to us, our families, and our community in return. All year, we strive to remain very conscious of our impact on the environment, our community, and each other to better the collective future of this land and the surrounding community. We started small, but our long-term goal is to build a community gathering place—a place to learn, to teach, and to change ourselves and each other. We want to show other people that there are better ways of growing food than the harmful and eco-limiting “farms” that people often see. We want to teach this generation and younger generations that you do not have to rely on food that comes in packages or from super-sized grocery stores or factory farms. We want to encourage people to think local and support small farms!
Our Permaculture Plans
It is time for our small farm to take the next step and keep growing, but to do this we need a better infrastructure in place and we need your help! Right now, we have many systems in place to maintain the health of our land including the use of farm-generated composting, vermaculture (earthworm gardening), cover cropping, etc. The next phase of our plan is to improve the way we use and sustain our available water, nutrients, and micro-ecosystem to give back to the land that provides for so many by the use of permaculture design. Permaculture is a way to work with nature by incorporating your land’s needs with available resources and natural design to support an ecosystem with diversity, stability, and resiliency. We have been working with a great permaculturist, Brandy Hall from Shades of Green, to come up with a plan for our farm to allow us to create natural gathering spaces, teaching gardens, and orchards for our family, friends, and community to enjoy. This permaculture design will be a great way to show what it means to live in harmony with the natural world, and let the land’s natural beauty and bountiful food nourish a community while sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, capturing and replenishing the water supply, and building the soil and local ecosystem.
How You Can Help
We have our goals, we have our designs and plans, and now we need your help to implement these plans. Creating this working farm ecosystem through permaculture is no easy feat! We need to raise enough money to implement the beautiful permaculture plans from Shades of Green. Your contributions will allow us to:
- 1.Improve and update herb gardens, demonstration gardens, and mushroom gardens to create integrated walking paths, event spaces, and “classroom” space for community involvement
- 2.Create berms and swales around the farm and gardens to capture and replenish the water supply during rainfall, and divert run-off during heavy rainfall to reduce water damage in our growing fields
- 3.Create a sustainable orchard with a variety of fruit and nut trees for long-term health and sustainability of the farm
We are super excited about these permaculture plans, and feel that this is the next step in creating our dream of a community gathering place to exchange ideas and get everyone excited and interested in where their food comes from. The teaching gardens and community spaces will give people a place to actually see what goes on and an opportunity for hands-on learning. We will use our space to teach classes on the use of sustainable practices and natural water management for growing produce and maintaining small personal orchards; how to use compost and vermaculture to nourish your garden; proper animal rotations on field and how to maintain healthy pastures; and to set up and care for a backyard mushroom garden; and more. We will also be able to have community gathering spaces and farm-to-table dinners in outdoor spaces for people to enjoy good company, good food, and good ideas.
With your help, Wolfscratch Farm can become a keystone farm and set the standard in our community and beyond for good food as well as prove that sustainable farming can be a successful business.
Brandy Hall from Shades of Green (http://shadesofgreeninc.org/) has been kind enough to donate her time and barter with us to help us develop our permaculture plan specific to Wolfscratch Farm. She will be working with us throughout the implementation of the plans to help our vision become reality.
Our video was produced by Manoja Purushothaman at SepiaStory (http://www.sepiastory.com/). We truly enjoyed working with Manoj throughout the process of shooting and editing the video, and his unique vision, creativity, and flexibility were just what we needed for this project.
Risks and challenges
Farming is a risky business. Small family farms are getting more difficult to sustain, and many farmers are selling their farms, and children of farmers reminisce about how it “used to be.” Most people are used to and expect food in pre-packaged containers and have the motto of the faster, the better. This “easy food” movement is leading to bigger, less diverse factory farms and easy to produce but less nutritious crops. It is also leading to increasing health problems and obesity around the country. It’s time for a change, and more people are beginning to realize this.
In and around Atlanta, as well as other cities in the South, there has been a great movement to support local farms and businesses with farm-to-table restaurants, farmers markets, and increasing CSA memberships. We have been a part of this movement in Atlanta and Jasper, Ga. and sustain our farm by running our own CSA program, selling our produce at local farmers markets, and selling to local restaurants.
As a small farm, our business is challenged daily by the weather, the inherent unknown with crop growth, and the possibilities of insect damage. Eco-friendly farming is not just a job, but a way of life, and we live and breathe this farm every day and every night. We started this venture 3 years ago and have done awesome things so far, including converting a horse farm to a working sustainable farm, adding new infrastructure and animal pastures for our goats and chickens, and gaining increasing community support for our vision. Adding permaculture solutions to our farm will help stabilize our farm’s ecosystem and minimize some of the risk associated with the weather and insect presence. Although this will be no easy feat, our work ethic and determination will enable us to complete this project. Support of the community through our farmers markets, CSA program, and your donations on Kickstarter also help our farm by ensuring a stable economic “ecosystem” and helping us become a model for a great permaculture system.
This project has its own risks including having enough available resources to complete the project, generating enough interest in our farm and our vision, and having the community support to keep it a thriving and ongoing project. We are off to a great start, but without helping hands from the community we will have no one to share our vision with and, with no gained interest, ideas for projects like this will not last. Please help make a lasting change in our community, and help spread the seeds for change in other communities around the country.
We only have one voice, but joined together we can make a loud outcry for change. Our only voice in this country is through our money…make your money count and call for a change in our food system!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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