Red Sunflower Farm, a Self-Sustaining Homestead

Recently Barry Schlimme, farm manager and co-owner with his wife, Mackey McNeill, of Red Sunflower Farm gave me a walking tour of their organic, self-sustaining homestead in Independence, KY.  The commitment Barry and Mackey have made to sustainability through permaculture principles is amazing in its scope, and the farm’s success as a CSA is really quite remarkable.  It’s one thing to talk about a commitment to this type of living; it’s quite another to do it.

Red Sunflower Farm is described on the farm blog as, “… 35 acres of Red Sunflower Farm consists of about eleven acres of open bottomland fields and living area surrounded by about four acres of Banklick Creek, surrounded by about twenty acres of wooded hills.”  It’s a beautifully simple setting, private, with the life the creek as the audible backdrop.

Think about the scope of the Red Sunflower Farm’s mission statement:

  • “to design, create, and steward an evolving and self-sustaining homestead using permaculture principles
  • to model the return to a simpler, more Earth-connected, and more sustainable way of life
  • to reach decisions based upon what is best for Earth and our successors, while meeting our own needs
  • to foster community by inviting others to share our vision
  • to continually express gratitude for the abundance that blesses our lives”

The mission statement alone is fodder for much conversation… understanding permaculture; today’s decision-making tied to how best protect the Earth and how to respect the needs of their successors; and fostering community.

Such conversation raises questions.  What steps can I take to improve the quality of my life and my food?  How can I as one person have a positive, measurable impact on my community’s food system?  In what other ways will my life be positively impacted by creating a changed awareness of how I eat and what systems I support?

There’s a lot here, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Let’s take it one bite at a time.

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