Organic, because we care about you
“He returns to the small country he calls home,
his own nation small enough to walk across.
He goes shadowy into the local woods,
And brightly into the local meadows and croplands…”
Our journey into farming began many years ago with Jeff working for an uncle who sells produce at the Holland Farmers Market. In 2010 Jeff and Melissa founded the non-profit Eighth Day Farm, with two urban “fields,” one in a parking lot and another in a former playground. These fields grew produce for families in need and for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and doubled as classrooms to advocate for a better food system and for food justice. We walked quietly away from urban farming at the close of 2017 due to a growing sense that context exerts more force on us than we do on it. In weakness we’ve retreated to carve out a space and a pace for life to be stewarded.
On this new farm we are working to nurture a cohesive and resilient ecosystem that will yield enough. “Enough” represents an approach that does not push the land to yield more by compromising its ecological health. We realized that for us to farm
he farm at Black Sheep Shelter
binds everything together for us. It feeds us body and soul.
in a way that honors our values the farm had to have a business partner that it could lean on. The wedding venue is that business. In a way, engaging in alternative farming requires a measure of privilege because the marketplace is dominated by the agri-industrial complex. Any farm prioritizing soil health, diversity, and rhythms of labor and Sabbath ahead of profit will likely have difficulty standing on its own-not because it is not flourishing but because its definition of flourishing is so much broader than that of our culture and economy. In this clash of definitions we resonate with Wendell Berry’s “mad farmer” who needs to walk away from the union of science and money.
But more than walking away from things, we invite you to walk with us toward and into a garden abundant with ripe fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, grasses, and animals. This first year we’ve planted 24 fruit trees: 3 cherry, 3 peach, 3 pear, 2 plum & 1 apricot, and 12 apple (Black Oxford, Braeburn, Cameo, Canadian Strawberry, Enterprise, Esopus Spitzenburg, Gold Rush, Honey Crisp, Liberty, McIntosh, Northern Spy, William’s Pride). We’ve also built a fence around the farm that is doubling as a trellis. On the trellis are planted 10 varieties of grapes and 7 varieties of kiwi, plus roses and trumpet honeysuckle for more bloom and grace. A flower garden sits next to the vegetable garden in the center of the farm. A dozen chickens are gobbling up bugs and working with rabbits to fertilize the orchard. Nigerian dwarf goats will be added to the mix in 2020 and we dreaming of karakul sheep to complete a small-scale rotational grazing system. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries will all be planted in 2019 as well. We are taking the slow approach to properly prepare the beds and mitigate existing weed pressure.
Beyond homesteading uses, the farm will supply the bed and breakfast, a roadside root cellar, our church community, and caterers.