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Barefoot Farmer’s Long Hungry Creek Farm

It was 20 years ago today, the newspaper gave me the new name. I write about my compost pile, but I’m guaranteed to raise a smile. So may I introduce to you the farm you’ve known for all these years, Barefoot Farmer’s Long Hungry Creek Farm.

We get by with a little help from our friends. The farm runs on love, from my best friends who work here with me, to all the helpful neighbors, eager apprentices and appreciative customers. Would you believe in our farm at first sight? Yes, I’m certain that it happens all the time.

Picture yourself on a farm in a garden with berries and trees and vegetable crops. Beautiful flowers of yellow and green towering over your head must be a row of sunflowers. Newspaper columns appear every week waiting to take you away, into a world of organic living and caring for the landscape.

It’s getting better all the time. Our soils are getting better with gentle tillage, remineralization and biodynamic compost. I’ve learned how to improve the soil tilthe and humus, raising the sugar content of the crops so that insects and diseases don’t bother them.

I’m fixing a hole where the cows get out and stop my mind from wondering. Where did they go? Agriculture requires cattle, and I’ve been chasing mine around for forty years. They are teaching me about rotational grazing. The realization that ruminants excrete more fertilizers than their own crops require gave rise to the domestication of animals and the dawn of civilization.

They’re leaving home after living together for so many years. This log cabin has been the home of my family, and a bunch of friends. Most recently, I’ve been blessed to have two young grandchildren staying here with me and helping with the chores. We are all leaving this home, and four other families from our neighborhood are leaving their homes, too.

For the benefit of the chicken fight there have been shows at night several times. From the benefits in Nashville to out gatherings at the Armour Hotel, donations and support have poured in. the common threat has brought a diverse group of people together. As one of the community members said “The chickens came and families had to move, but we have made lifelong friendships. We won!”

We are talking about the space between us all and the people who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion. Lots of people are realizing the environmental and economic disaster that the corporate control of food has caused, but many are still unaware. In our local history, gardens and small farms created a culture around meals that also generated income and caring for the land. Healthy farms won’t want CAFO’s, gas fracking and other menaces threatening Tennessee.

Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more? Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64. Farming requires long-term thinking. We make decisions based on what will be happening on our farm twenty years later, not by sacrificing the future for short-term profit.

Lovely Rita by the creek, give us a wink and make me think of you. Hundreds of students and thousands of visitors make their way to the Long Hungry Creek. Many have fallen in love here and consequently we’ve had several weddings. Farms are for people, protecting nature and building a future.

Nothing to do to save the farm put your arms down. Going to work, got weeds to pull, it’s a hoedown. I’m going o move into the old Purcell house on Heady Ridge, after we fix it up. I will live again on the big farm and have my good mornings near the chickens, pigs and cows. As for the 40,000 chickens 450 feet from where I live now, the Tysons executives were certainly correct when they told me, “It will stink.”

We’re Barefoot Farmer’s Long Hungry Creek Farm, we’re sorry but it’s time to go. We’d like to thank you once again. The tremendous empathy and compassion you all have given me in the last two successful years has touched my heart. It has given me the strength, courage and hope to continue to work for a healthy agriculture throughout Middle Tennessee.

I read the news today, oh boy, about a lucky man who had a farm. And though the news was rather sad, I just had to laugh, I saw the photograph. A giant CAFO dwarfed Tennessee’s most famous gardens, with three hundred acres where it could have gone. I’d love to turn you on to homegrown, organic produce, an d help you learn to grow your own, without the Beatles.