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Meet the New Faces of Bellwether Farm
Brandon Gooch joins us from Oxford, Mississippi where he has worked and taken on many roles at Camp Lake Stephens for the past 14 years. While working at Camp Lake Stephens, Brandon began an Environmental Education program at the camp. Through this program he was able to develop a large camp garden, a barn with a variety of animals, beehives, a greenhouse, and a large composting facility. He now brings that same passion for camping ministry and healthy environmental practices to Bellwether Farm. Brandon will direct the summer camp program and guide the team in the day-to-day operations of Bellwether Farm. Bellwether Farm is incorporating many new technologies, ranging from solar panels to water reclamation systems, that are complex in the way they function individually and collectively. Isaac Hollingsworth, the Sustainability Fellow, is tasked with learning how these systems work and developing curricula for educating Bellwether visitors and program participants. By providing teaching models for sustainable living that incorporate the renewable energy and resource reclamation systems in use at the facility, Bellwether intends to inspire and equip all who visit it to apply sustainability disciplines in their own lives. Jessica Miller, the Land Stewardship and Program Manager, has been developing adult and youth programming and enacting a land management plan to maintain the highest possible ecological fidelity. Since Bellwether Farm is a place that we build together, there will be many opportunities in 2018 to get involved in making the land healthier and more beautiful, as we learn together how to promote wellness in ourselves and our communities. For example, youth will help with tree planting for Arbor Day during the Spring Youth Event. In addition, she looks forward to inviting Diocesan congregations to participate in Bellwether-hosted compost and waterconservation workshops later in the season where parishes will be equipped with practical resources to care for the earth in their own places. For the past five years, our new farm manager, Kyle Mitchell, has grown food in Cleveland with two different urban farming initiatives, balancing food production, education, and social outreach. He is planning to cultivate two acres for vegetable production this year, as well as set up the two hoop houses, install the irrigation system, and expand the fruit orchard. He will also work with Brandon to care for our farm animals, including a Jersey cow, two sheep, several goats, and a flock of chickens. Currently, Claudia Wilson helps to manage the Planting for Tomorrow campaign, supports Bellwether Farm construction administration, and assists with development efforts for Bellwether Farm. This year, Claudia is transitioning into an events and development management role. She will plan and manage events held at Bellwether Farm, while continuing to support development efforts. Claudia is already meeting with parish leaders and others to plan events, manage program registration, and coordinate activities with the rest of the team. Updates: Although the frigid temperatures in December and January slowed the pace, construction on the buildings has moved ahead and is scheduled for completion in May. Many crews, representing a variety of trades, are on site each day working to enclose the structures, frame the interiors, and install the electrical, plumbing and HVAC lines. Work in March and April will focus on the interior finishes. For our first event, we will host the ECW Annual Meeting on May 19. Women from across the diocese will gather for the day in the Worship Barn, which is a reconstructed barn frame originally built in 1863. The building features a large expanse of windows with views of the wooded hillside down to the recreation area and pond. The national ECW President will offer the keynote address. Members will also hold their annual meeting, followed by a luncheon and a worship service. In addition, to help spread our message of a responsible, redemptive relationship with the land, we recently launched Bellwether Farm's website: www.bellwetherfarm.com. At this site you can learn more about Bellwether Farm, including: sustainable and regenerative farming practices, our mission and history, construction photos, upcoming events, and so much more. Check the website to learn more about this year's summer camp program and more details about the program offerings for 2018.