Demonstration Farm Offers Diverse Opportunities

Cielo Sand Hodson at Broadened Horizons Organic Farm
Feeding the rooster a wild strawberry and meeting a flock of chickens were highlights of our recent farm visit for my preschooler.  We traveled to Broadened Horizons Organic Farm near Rockwood, Tennessee to learn about their permaculture practices and heirloom plant preservation.  While organic is a fairly new term for many of us, it's evident that on today's small-scale organic farms, everything old is new again.

Sustainable farmer and instructor Leaf Myczack explained, ""Permaculture isn't new. Respect for animals that you raise and eat isn't new."  He and wife Cielo Sand Hodson raise a few cows, a few more chickens, and lots of organically grown vegetables.  They lead classes for all age groups and skill levels on everything from organic gardening to green construction techniques. 

Heritage Breed Araucana Hen
We sat in the dip of a meadow, under the shade of hardwood trees, for our interview.  Farmer Leaf, as students warmly call him, pointed out that something as simple as a shade tree in the yard can make us feel more comfortable while lowering our energy bills.  Whether you're building or remodeling an existing home or planning a working farm, you can find something useful in the class offerings.  "How we utilize the land before we start constructing buildings or orchards or woodlots is what we try to teach," said Myczack.  Knowledge about orienting a home in the direction for best energy conservation or preserving the richest farmland for growing food seems to be uncommon these days, but is available there.
Hodson was gracious to give a tour of the pristine poultry house where laying hens are regularly pampered.  The laying hens serve dual purposes of providing food and processing compost for use in next season's gardens.  The gorgeous heirloom varieties of chickens show off various colors of feathers and eggs.  Integrating farm livestock with gardening can create an ideal permaculture system on the farm.

Henhouse at Broadened Horizons Organic Farm
Farming is part of the sustainable lifestyle that this resourceful couple demonstrates every day.  They've even taken care to use surplus construction materials when renovating their home and making farm outbuildings.  They conserve all resources, especially water.  And they're earnest in efforts to teach others who are willing to learn.  They offer various classes and internships, including low-cost field trip tours for student groups. 

"The standard of living we've reached is not sustainable," stressed Myczack.  And he's doing his part to let others know about the alternatives.  You can learn more about classes at Broadened Horizons Organic Farm at this link.

Farm life inspires art...