Today some of my fellow sustainably minded Mason students and I went on an adventure to tour Belle Meade Farm. Organized by the wonderful people, and my former co-workers, at the Office of Sustainability, we gathered into two vans to travel the hour and a half to Sperryville, VA.
Belle Meade is owned and operated by Mike Biniek and Susan Hoffman. This couple had a story that really resonated with me. In 1993 Mike and Susan grew tired of their urban life style. Mike worked as a newspaper distributor and Susan spent her days as a teacher. Just like me, one day they decided they wanted to leave the city life behind. They bought a 138 acre farm where they would soon start a bed & breakfast and a children’s summer camp. At the time they were in their 40s and had little farm experience but their passion motivated them. Now, along with their summer camp and bed & breakfast, the farm consist of organic vegetables, horses, bees, pasture raised cows, pigs, chickens, laying hens and turkeys as well as a small school that incorporates sustainability with traditional education. This is a truly amazing farm!
Jen with the chickens
Jason making friends
Piglets first day on the farm
One of the school’s riding camp horses
My care for people has once again been expanded. Over Spring Break I took a Permaculture Design Certification Course taught by Rev. Marjani Dele. This program was organized by the Office of Sustainability‘s Danielle Wyman, Lenna Storm, Jenny Upton, and myself. My efforts in helping organize the class were repaid when I was allowed to take the course for free. At the time the little knowledge I had on Permaculture was obtained during the planning process.
Permaculture is based on three foundations of ethics devised by Bill Mollison:
1. Earth care — care for the earth and all of its living systems
2. People care — care for yourself and others (individuals, families, and communities)
3. Fair share — be fair: take, have, and use only what you need, and when there is surplus, give to others and recycle resources back into the system.
These three ethics really made be begin to look at life differently. I’ve really started taking peoples needs into consideration. I realized that there are ways for humans to live in harmony with nature and there are people who truly care.
It is now my goal to figure out how I can implement Permaculture principles into a farm operation.
Geoff Lawton – Permaculture Teacher