Micro-farming in Rockland

BY KRISTINA WODICKA

Addy, Eva and Zephy busy at work. Photo by Jennifer Turturro

There are many families in Rockland who are committed to the effort of micro-farming, and having a homestead. One family who has truly taken the concept of a home farm to heart are the Turturro’s of LillyZoo farm. I had the pleasure of spending a few hours at their homestead in Airmont, New York. This wonderful experience was organized by Jill Cruz, and held at the home of Jennifer and Anthony.

Upon arriving at Jennifer’s home we were welcomed by her children holding their favorite chickens. Looking around, you notice a beautiful old house which is the hub to acres of flat lands encompassing multiple fenced gardens of flowers, chicken coops, sheep, vegetable crops, a solar water system and a beehive.

It is obvious to all how much hard work and dedication has been put forth to achieve this. We were all invited there to learn about how to put a small farm together in our own backyards. Though our group spanned many different levels of experience, all were eager to learn more.

A timeline of the farm, including pictures, was laid out nicely on the table for all to see. The home was purchased in December 2008 and the work on the farm started in March, 2009. The original house was a Dutch colonial and was owned by Henry Tallman who was the first postmaster in June 1860 at Tallman Station, now Airmont. The Tallman family settled a number of properties in the area.

As the farm work started in 2009, they got busy with multiple projects including their first batch of chickens, moveable chicken coops, maple syrup, sheep, planted four beds of veggies, blackberries, pears, quinces, chestnuts, morels, canning, and then a new baby girl!

Beehive at LillyZoo. Photo by Kristina Wodicka

In 2010 work continued on all of the above projects, while planting another crop, raising chickens, building a rock wall, and continuing the effort of restoring the Tallman House. In 2011 they built a spiral garden for cut flowers, installed a hive of Italian honeybees, and harvested chickens. Of course work continues on the farm, and their next big project is renovating the original barn that sits on the property!

The feeling for all of being on a sustainable farm, especially if it is your own is hard to describe. Here is a freedom and a beauty to holding onto part of the traditions of the past and keeping life simpler. The children are allowed to just be children and take in all that nature has to offer. There is such a learning experience for little ones when there are no schedules and they are helping with the work involved at the farm.

Collecting eggs, moving the sheep, feeding the animals, helping with the compost are all jobs that are enjoyable to children. They get to see where there food comes from and even get to wear the clothing they help to make from the wool of their own sheep. Each aspect of the day can be a learning and bonding experience for the entire family.

A lot of people may think well I don’t have acres of land and I don’t know how to farm. Micro farming is micro for a reason. It can be done on a very small parcel of land. How do I start it? All it takes to start is some commitment, desire and some knowledge. Jennifer started by reading and gathering as much information as she could.

There are many great books available for farming on a small scale or large and with different levels of experience. There is a useful book list on the Lillyzoo website, http://lillyzoo.blogspot.com. And if you are wondering where the name Lillyzoo came from, Jennifer said she had it for 6 years and “it just popped into my head early one morning”. Jennifer can’t stress enough how important it is to “put one foot in front of the other and make it happen!”

In looking around the property I saw many projects that were all hand done by the family. This gave me the permission to allow myself to try some projects on that I wouldn’t ordinarily. I realized that nothing has to be perfect and it’s more important to just try it yourself, and feel the pride of your own accomplishments.

There is a definite movement happening all around us and it is inspiring. Chickens seem to be popping up in neighbors’ backyards lately and I love the sound of a cockadoodledoo!

Mama Chicken. Photo by Jennifer Turturro.

Kristina Wodicka, DC, has been in practice for over 15 years in Nyack, with specialties in chiropractic, nutrition, and is also certified in the N.E.T. process of allergy elimination. She has her own chickens and has completed the year-long training in Biodynamic Farming.

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