Extraordinary Health Magazine Extraordinary Health Vol 25 - Page 34

The Hunolt Family Homestead— Proving How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet Garden of Life® associate Jason Hunolt and his wife Branwen are living a dream in their dream homestead—a lovely historical home with a few acres that includes a 3,600 square-foot organic farm and more. Here’s a look at their progress—straight talk from the Hunolts about what it takes to build and live out that dream. I t’s been an interesting first few months carving out the framework of our organic farm that was birthed in our hearts. My wife and I have ideas that are shared by many and pursued by few, but we decided to embark on this adventure anyway. Here’s a bit of a backdrop: I’m an herbalist, and a Territory Manager at Garden of Life, whose uncompromising commitment for organic and non-GMO food and products ignited a deeper passion in me and Branwen to take this even more personally and live it out daily: we wanted to set up a permaculture/ organic/non-GMO homestead consisting primarily of fruits, veggies and medicinal herbs. We are avid organic farmers, and completely embrace the non-GMO movement for many reasons too numerous to list here. Additionally, we wanted a new—or renewed—understanding of human beings’ relationship with their mother, our Earth. We started with a couple of tasks—outside of learning how to care for and maintain multiple landscaped acres. Our initial foray into our organic farm venture was to test the theories and suppositions we have apprehended over the years and to provide an empirical structure to judge them against— a rather daunting task. Daunting or not, however, Branwen and I are up to the task because it’s that important to us. We choose to heal, to honor the Earth, to leave our mark—not only for ourselves and our daughter, Estelle, but for generations who follow. How Our Organic Gardening Dream Became a Reality After many years of having a handful of small raised beds growing vegetables, we knew that we wanted an organic garden—a big one. In short, the variety of vegetables that we wanted to grow could never fit in three 8’x 5’ plots. Don’t get us wrong. You certainly can grow a nice amount of food in that space, but one winter squash plant can take over two of those, if it wanted to, and we simply wanted more veggies than just winter squash. We say that we wanted to have a big organic garden, but we never had the opportunity to have one until recently, when we had a chance to purchase a beautiful historical home with a few acres. As you can imagine, we leapt at the chance to buy the house and the land—and to start our mega organic garden. Our dream was becoming reality and our imaginations began running wild to turn the most pressing projects into reality as soon as we moved in. That said, our top priorities (if not essentials) were to create a 3,600 square-foot garden and make an 11’ x 12’ chicken coop. Believe us when we say that it’s much easier said than done. Our Garden and Chicken Coop Adventure Take our garden, for instance. The garden needed a rabbit fence ASAP. Why? Apparently, the boxwoods in the landscaping were home to a little rabbit farm, so we couldn’t plant anything until the rabbit fence was in place. So, what we thought we needed to tackle first became more like second and third. The rabbit fence had to happen first. Next up, we realized that you don’t just go create a garden aimlessly, so we also have been putting swales in the garden because we want to incorporate permaculture principles to create as much of a self-sustaining and self-maintaining system as possible. So, what is permaculture? Glad you asked! Permaculture is the concept of creating permanent agricultural systems. This traditionally includes features that allow natural resources such as water to be captured and stored to maximum efficiency. Now for polycultures . . . Polycultures are plants that not only have beneficial or harmonious relationships with each other, but also enrich the soil and support the soil and landscape