homesteading

Barefoot Farm is a self-sufficient homestead rooted in the ecological processes of the land. Our water and irrigation is gravity-fed from a protected Appalachian spring on a forested ridge. We grow all of our own fruits and vegetables, and our goats provide milk and cheese.

We live off-grid with solar power providing all of our electricity and most of our heat (firewood from the forest supplements our solar radiant floor heat in the winter). We dry clothes on a clothesline and open our windows in the summer; we snuggle beside the woodstove and read books together in the winter. Off-grid energy limitations have enriched our family life and enabled us to connect more deeply to the seasons and cycles of nature.

To fertilize our gardens, we use only composted manure from our goats and three small horse farms less than a half-mile away. We also use cover crops like hairy vetch, oats, rye, crimson clover, red clover, and winter peas to protect and enrich our soils. We grow heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables and save many of our own seeds.

We practice careful crop rotation and have planted many perennial herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees. We till as little as we can, using a walk behind tiller. We use hand-tools for planting, weeding, and garden maintenance. We are always mindful of the rich interrelationship of bacteria, fungi, and other life within soils and strive to minimize soil disturbance and compaction.

We are growing shiitake mushrooms under the shade of mature trees, growing vines up fruit trees, starting perennial herbs, and growing perennial vegetables like Jerusalem artichokes and asparagus.

Our goats are raised on an acre of mixed grasses and have free access to the barn. We use their raw milk for family consumption and to make cheese and soap.

All of our practices are an attempt to honor the natural world that sustains us. We have learned firsthand the joys of living simply, humbly, and in close contact with the natural world. And we have discovered our deep interdependence with the trees, the water, the soil—as well as our neighbors, community, and planet.