In a Good Way farm in Talihina hosted a free homestead event Saturday.
The public was invited to the event, one of several by Mother Earth and Grit magazines during International Homesteading Education Month, according to program director Teddi Irwin.
In a Good Way is a nonprofit training farm established to give Native American men a second chance after prison, Irwin said.
Irwin said she and her son, Greg Duda, are Oklahoma Choctaws and have been working to get the project started for five years. They expect to begin screening applicants after Jan. 1.
The program will begin with four residents, she said.
“It’s really hard for these guys to find jobs; people object to them living next door,” Irwin said.
“A lot of them have low-education levels or learning disabilities.
“We want to give them a chance to earn a vocation and become more self-reliant,” she said.
Applicants will go through a thorough screening process and will have to earn their keep at the farm, Irwin said.
“It’s not a country club,” she said.
“They will work and meet goals along the way ... or we’ll make room for someone else,” Irwin said.
“And there is a need for farmers. The average farmer’s age is 58 and there are not that many young people in the pipeline,” she said.
Irwin said she has received support from the community, Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, OSU Extension Service, Sam Noble Foundation and Choctaw Nation, among others.
She said the farm will accept donations of equipment, furnishings and funds.
“We have three alpacas — therapeutic animals, but two of them were gifts and are still in Oregon, so we need $1,000 to pay the shipping here,” she said.
Today’s demonstrations will include the building of an 18- by 60-foot hoop house, which will provide hands-on learning experience for visitors. Noble Foundation of Ardmore and Leon’s Green Houses of Kingston donated materials to build the arched hoop house. Steve Upson of Noble Foundation will oversee the building of the new design.
Nine 14- by 28-foot arched hoop houses (similar to the one being built today) were constructed recently at the Noble Foundation. The houses were planted with 200 tomato transplants the first of May and have produced 3,600 pounds of tomatoes. They provide a way to grow crops free from the heat and drought of Oklahoma summers as well as the ice and cold of winter.
The final touch to the hoop house demonstration will be Micah Anderson, from Oklahoma State Plastic Culture Program, putting in raised beds and plastic mulch using the bedding machine provided by Oklahoma State University.
Other demonstrations which will run continuously during the day include:
Rainwater Harvesting by Billy Kniffen, Texas A&M; Raising Chemical Free Bees by Dennis Brown, Lonestar Apiaries; How to Save Money on Your Electric Bill, a question and answer time by Todd Michall, Kiamichi Electric; How to Build a Solar Food Dehydrator by David Swan; an Old Fashioned Quilting Bee, led by Katie Humphreys; Pottery Making by Ian and Amy Thompson; Basket Making by Kay Jackson; Flute Making and Playing by Presley Byington; Bead Work by Sue Folsum; and Dress Making by Shirley Barboan, with the Choctaw Preservation Department.
There will be storytelling of early Choctaw days. There will also be display and demonstration of recycled, refurbished and reused things, featuring the building of a green house using water bottles, knitting with plarn (yarn made from plastic shopping bags,) reuse of prescription bottles and collages made from magazines. Prize-winning alpacas will be displayed by Karen and Dave Galbraith of Walnut Creek Alpacas.
An area will be set up in which invited farmers will sell extra items often sold to help with farm expenses. Pedigreed Welsh corgi puppies will be available for order, and Milieu natural soaps and beauty aids will be on sale.
Three Choctaw dishes — tanchi labona, beans and beef, and hunters stew — will be served with cornbread and iced tea for $6, beginning at 11 a.m. Homemade baked goods, bottled water, and sassafras iced tea also will be on sale.
Donations of new or used household and farm tools will be accepted at the event.
Hourly door prizes will be given and a food basket worth $150 will be presented at 3 p.m.
For further information, call (918) 567-3313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.