We first and foremost are a working homestead / farm. We will continue to produce fresh healthy food for ourselves and the community. The structure for the market garden is being put in place this fall, so that we will begin selling produce starting in the spring of 2015. The first greenhouse will be completed late this fall. We will be offering a limited amount of CSA memberships next year and expanding as we bring the garden to full size the following year.
The garden also serves as a valuable teaching tool for those who want to learn the skills required to produce their own food. From WOOFER,s who stay for the season, or part of the season; to workshop participants who come for a weekend to learn a specific set of skills. There a few more plans that will revolve around the garden, but those details will need to wait for now.
The barn will grow also, to start with Gary wants to run 2 sows and a boar. We are on the hunt for a Tamworth gilt, he might also consider a Duroc. The pigs will continue to feed our family and local community. We will continue to sell weaner pigs but will also be raising more of our pork for sale. Gary is finally happy with the system he has worked out for growing sprouts as fodder and is now producing well over 100 lbs a day summer and winter. The animals are all doing very well on them and we are ready to expand. Keeping more pigs will also allow more hands on experience for those who want to work with pigs.
I want to build up the goat herd to six milking does, This will provide enough milk for our family's needs and my soap making. Again, the expansion will allow for more hands on workshops and teaching opportunities.
There are no concrete plans for cattle at the moment, but I have a feeling one or more of the boys may have plans in that area. This would be at least 3 years out right now.
Herbs are also an integral part of the plans. There is going to be a large herb garden which I will use for our medicinal herbs. I plan to use our homestead as a venue for herb walks and wellness retreats and workshops. We plan to bring in other teachers and leaders to give workshops; herbal weekends are a great place to start.
A new orchard of apples, pears, peaches and cherries is going to be planted next spring. Between the garden and the orchard, we will need a few more bee hives. I am planning at least 1 workshop next year for introductory beekeeping.
We have a food forest planned for an area close to the ridge line on the property, and I am working hard to bring a permaculture design course here in late next year or early the following year. Accommodations for WOOFERs round out the plans on the drawing board for now.
Whew! When I write it all out it sounds almost impossible; but when I look back at what we have done in the past year I know we will bring it all together. It is what we have always wanted to do. We could just build up our property and become almost self sufficient, but we have always wanted to share our knowledge as well as learn from others. For us that is the only way to really become self sufficient... by being part of a self sufficient community.
Humans were not meant to function in isolation, a strong community of people with varying skills and abilities is the basis of any healthy society. We have, for the most part, lost sight of that fact. It is our intention to work with as many like minded people as possible to change that. The oft quoted "be the change you want to see", message is alive and well here at Hand - Forged Farm, and thank you for being along for the journey.