Creation Plantation

What is Creation Plantation?
I suppose you could call it a model farm/homestead.

Max and Lindsay found the farm through Tamryn Coots, owner of Cooterville Farms and a friend that they had previously WWOOFed for. Lindsay is back in school this season for agriculture education, Max stays on the property taking care of the farm’s cow, bull, chickens, and land, teaching math at community college on the side. He got an undergraduate degree in education, and a masters in economics with the goal of teaching. Creation Plantation seems the perfect mix of farming, land stewardship, and education.

Though in its very early stages of development, the long term vision for Creation Plantation is a Farm Field Trip for local schools. Kids will come for the day to learn about agriculture and homesteading. The greenhouse,will house an aquaponics system. Aquaponics, like hydroponics, cultivates plants in water systems. However, instead of manually adding nutrients to the water, aquaponics incorporates fish into the system. The fish are fed with feed, worms, grubs, plants, kitchen scraps, etc. The waste from the fish goes through a settling basin to filter out solids, a biofilter in which nitrification bacteria grow and convert ammonia to nitrates, and through sloped tubing which delivers water and nutrients to the plants through gravity. The plants are growing in some type of medium (Max is planning to use a burlap pouch filled with coco coir: coconut fiber from the husk of coconuts). When the water reaches the lowest point, it is directed back to the fish pond and cycled back through. In addition to growing food for Max to harvest for consumption or sale, the aquaponics system will be one stop in the field trip for the kids to learn about food systems.

Outside of the greenhouse is the compost and waste center that we are currently constructing. There will be two grub bins, created by one of the investors, Carl. Black soldier flies, common to North Carolina, lay eggs in these bins where their larvae feed on scraps and travel up an inclined path and drop into a bucket where they can be harvested to feed to the chickens and the fish. Next to the bins there will be a section for sorting recyclables, as well as three sections for compost piles. In addition to being a functioning and productive waste system, this section of the farm will serve to teach kids all that you can do with your waste. Instead of simply tossing refuse into trash bins and never seeing it again, the kids will learn how to responsibly handle waste and use it to their advantage

IMG_1899.JPGIMG_1901.JPGIMG_2225.JPGThe compost, grub, and recycling center in progress. We first cleaned up the area by clearing out brush, weeds and twigs, and then spent a morning planning the layout and digging holes, later setting the first two posts for the back wall.

When I showed up, Max and Josh, another WWOOFer, were working on some building projects: a mobile chicken coop for meat birds and a composting toilet for the cabin. In addition to helping with these and other projects where I can, I have been working on carving a Creation Plantation sign in a large slab of wood. It is a slow and tedious task, but that is what I am trained for. Hours of picking cherry tomatoes, kale, green beans, or anything, really, at Langwater Farm have taught me how to settle into a task; how to focus on the bunch, fruit, or cut at hand, knowing fully well that there will be many more ahead, as there are behind, yet not letting that fact worry, annoy, or dishearten me. As with any repetitive task, my body is subjected to rather lengthy periods of time in one or two positions. While I have strengthened my back and learned how to shift my stance during the harvest, carving the sign requires precise and repetitive strength in my fingers, palm, forearm, and bicep. Though I feel the burn less the longer I carve, I make sure to take breaks to gawk at the sky and cuddle with my favorite great pyrenees, Bill.

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It happened that Max had just gotten four goats (two adult milking goats, two newborns) from his friends to babysit for a couple weeks while they went on vacation. In addition to helping Max milk Nina and Donkey, I have had the pleasure of bottle feeding that milk to the kids, since Nina, their mother, does not have any interest in feeding them herself. The generous amount of milk allows us to use the extra! Max uses it in a lot of his (wonderful) cooking, and we have had numerous cheese-making endeavors! A midnight batch of chevre turned out wonderfully. We heated a gallon of milk to 86 degrees, put in some chevre culture, and let that sit at roughly 72 degrees for 12 hours. We then strained the cheese, separating the milk into curds (the cheese part) and whey (the remaining liquid). We let the curds strain longer while Max boiled the whey down to make a cheese-paste. Hours later, we seasoned half of the cheese with granulated honey I bought in Alexandria, sugar, lavender, and some salt. In the other half we put salt, garlic, and chives. We tightly wrapped both halves in a cloth, and suspended them in a large bowl over a glass to drain overnight in the fridge. The next day, we had two delicious logs of chevre! Despite being a lengthy one, the process was much easier than I would have thought. And, nothing beats home-milked, home-made goat cheese.

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Max made feta cheese the next day, as well. Needless to say, we eat a lot of cheese. As someone who is quite lactose-intolerant, I have been embracing the opportunity to eat it all, since goat milk does not have lactose in it. Pair it with Max’s fresh bread, savory grits, or spicey chili… there is really no bad way to go about it.  Grateful to have a host as willing to experiment, and coax me into his experimentation, as he is to fry, bake, and create amazing meals every single day. I admire his sense of curiosity and his passion for variety and flavor, and try to remember that as I tackle the mounds of dishes these experiments entail. Full of immense gratitude, I thank you, Max, for opening your home and project to me, for embracing my skills and curiosity, and for encouraging me to follow my passions find my divinity.

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