Enjoy learning, working and exploring our organic farm!
Education at the Farm
The Farm at Holmes offers a variety of courses on sustainable farming, faith (Christianity and others) and farming, animal and environmental ethics, and crafting. Contact Sarah Lucas, Farmer and Educator, if there’s a topic you’re interested in!
Course offerings :
- Christianity, or other religions, and farming
- What, on earth, has Christianity to do with farming? There are some which hold Christianity, with its anthropocentric language and otherworldly focus, largely responsible for the Western disregard towards, and even abuse of, nature. We will begin by considering the religious and historical foundations for these claims, before turning to ask how Christians can best meet their call to be stewards of Creation. It may come as a surprise that modern agricultural practices are the single largest contributor to environmental issues such as climate change, ecosystem destruction, and water pollution. Considering climate change alone: modern commercial, mono-crop agriculture is responsible for an estimated 30% of total global greenhouse emissions. At the same time sustainable ‘regenerative’ farming practices can literally not only halt carbon emissions but actually help reverse atmospheric carbon levels through sequestering such within healthy, established soil.
Can the ‘body of Christ’ be re-envisioned to include other creatures, and even our shared environment? Caring for Creation and caring for our neighbors are integrally linked. Sustainable agriculture can heal the sick by providing the nourishment that so much food lacks. We will discuss the hidden webs which allow supporting local, responsible farms to feed the hungry, and provide for the poor in our communities and abroad. This course will reveal that Christian stewardship begins with choosing to eat food, and thus support farming practices, which bring resurrection – and not destruction – to each other and the gift of Creation.
- Farm-to-faith programs
- Responsible farming – the production of food that promotes health in humans and our environment – is a practical spiritual endeavor. Sustainable agriculture can heal the sick, feed the hungry, and provide for the poor. These are some of the many common themes bridging different religions and cultures. Sarah has studied Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, and pagan faiths and will tie any or each to the pressing issues around food justice, environmental justice and farming practices.
- Choose the farm, not the gym
- Human health has always been a source of interest, but lately – for those of us living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world with some of the absolute poorest health – what it means to live well seems to grow increasingly more difficult. Technology has dramatically shifted the average American lifestyle from mobile to sedentary, and from interactive to digital. Gym membership is commonplace, and the first solution most think of to try and remedy concerns such as weight gain, muscle loss, fatigue and depression. But there is a far better alternative, and one which seamlessly provides the counterpart to exercise: a healthy diet!
The act of growing food that is actually ‘fresh’, ‘natural’, ‘organic’ without the use of large fossil fuel driven machines and toxic chemicals works the body, mind, and spirit in a holistic, challenging and creative way. Rather than paying money for mindless repetitions in front of countless television screens and amidst stale, recirculated air, your exercise regimen can actually create life and nourish well-being. Work the soil and your entire body with a broadfork; lift rocks, wood and full buckets with correct posture; plant, weed and harvest in various positions; use hand and small power tools in ways which are effective but also balanced; forage and munch on the freshest, most nutritious foods available; and go home sweaty, sore, smiling and knowing that your labor has benefitted you and countless others in many ways.
- Weeds or medicine?
- Did you know that ten of the top ‘noxious weeds’ listed by Better Homes and Gardens are edible and, better yet, incredibly nutritious? Forget toxic herbicides – just eat the plants! The dandelion, probably the best known incorrigible ‘weed’, is in fact a complete plant protein, and every part is edible and even medicinal. Purslane, a plant which is eagerly eradicated by Americans everywhere, contains seven times the amount of the Vitamin E that spinach does and more Omega-3 fatty acids than some fish oils! We have all heard that “you are what you eat,” but what of “make your food your medicine”? Our diet influences everything from our mood to our levels of pain to our body weight. Is it a coincidence that the varieties and freshness of food in America has steadily decreased alongside our health and mental well being? In this course we will consider topics such as why wild plants have higher vitamins and minerals than domesticated crops, and how we have grown to forget the vast variety of foods available to us. Throughout our discussions, participants will forage for wild foods and ‘weeds’, discuss their properties and sample them together.
- Animal ethics, human ethics
- Our lives have been interwoven with countless other animals throughout the evolution of our species, whether we choose to realize such or not. Some historians claim that it is precisely our relations with other animal species which drove us to evolve the very cognitive and emotional capacities which we argue distinguish us from them. Have we always seen such a clear line between humans and other animals? Did our ancestors regard other species as wholly ‘other’ from themselves? For that matter, what did ancient peoples consider a ‘person’, and worthy of consideration and respect? The history of human-animal relations naturally leads to discussions around how we view other animals today. As with any terminology, we have implicit assumptions and judgements tied to the term ‘animal’; what are yours, what are cultural and, upon reflection, do these make sense? How do we treat our fellow creatures, and why? Perhaps connections can be found between our treatment of other species, and our treatment of other humans, other cultures, and other religions.
Most of us can argue for the care of some species while condoning the harm of others. Does the human animal have the right to breed other species exclusively for our own use, whether as food, for clothing, for amusement, or as companions? If so, are there any relationships which are simply not ethical, and why? We will consider whether these arguments are accurate or driven by culture and convenience. This course will examine whether humans can be responsible for the lives of other animals and ensure that those lives are worth living. Throughout our discussions we will return repeatedly to ask whether there are similarities between these distinctions and our attitudes towards other humans.
- History of environmental ethics
- It is easy for us to romanticize past cultures, and idealize their relationships with nature. But are we, in modern Western culture, the first to interact with our natural surroundings in such a detrimental way? How did our ancestors treat the environment, and even other animal species? What of the First Nations peoples on this continent? Are we so very different today, and if so then why? In developing increasingly complex and far-reaching technologies we have distanced ourselves from the systems and cycles of nature, while also exerting unprecedented influences upon them. Is this new conceptual distance to blame for our lack of environmental respect, or are cultural and religious philosophies at fault? This course is designed to foment an ongoing discussion which will tie past and present together, so that we may begin to visualize a better future for our and other species on this finite planet.
- Crafting with natural and recycled materials
- Did you know that you can weave pine needles together? What of dried arrangements with elegant seed pods which last year round? Driftwood or even old logs may be used in an infinite variety of ways, from lamp stands to wall sculptures. Birch bark signs are elegant, and the bark creates beautiful candle holders. Come and use bird feathers to make earrings and painted tree ornaments, or experiment with pine cone jewelry. We can weave reed baskets, and vine wreaths or make hand made paper. Depending on the season, the materials available, and your interest we will discuss and create treasures which will provide you and yours with a taste of the beauty of nature for years to come.