Them That's Doin': Okorn's Organic Farm Homestead

Alice Okorn shares a Report From Them That's Doin' about rebuilding their neglected organic farm, their animals, crops, and wild foraging on their homestead.

| November/December 1970

  • Pigs on organic farm
    Okorn talks about how they started as a family and how they rebuilt their neglected and badly eroded 138 acre farmland.
    PHOTO: FOTOLIA/TALSEN

  • Pigs on organic farm

We laughed when we read Report From Them That's Doin' in MOTHER EARTH NO. 5. This "Old Farmer Friend" fellow with all the advice, the grey OLD folks living in the big house on the hill . . . Hey! That's us! And we figured you might like a first-hand report of what we're all about.

I'm 28, Richard—my husband—is 31 and, for the next umteen years, we'll be doing just what we're doing now: Keeping healthy and vigorous by growing all our own food on our organic farm while trying to get 138 acres to produce enough to pay for itself. This is slow, hard work (one "drawback" is our belief in organic farming: We wouldn't dream of polluting our precious land with artificial fertilizers or insecticides) . . . but it does offer many rewards, too.

Richard has lived on this land for 10 years and, just four years ago, I snatched away his single blessedness and moved in. I'd finally convinced him that—since he was a former city boy and I'd always lived on farms—he really needed me. To be honest, though, I believe Richard has learned more about farming in 10 years than I have in 28.

Our organic farm had been neglected and was badly eroded when Richard settled here and we're still rebuilding the soil with homemade compost (the wonderful byproduct of our 70 head of cattle.) We also built terraces across the slopes of our rolling fields with tractor, plow and homemade transit. A terrace—in case you're wondering—is kind of a long, very low dam or "stairstep" across the face of a hill. It holds water for days after a rain so the moisture can gradually soak into the soil rather than run off to wash more gullies in (and topsoil out!) of our fields.



Our main sources of income come from the sale of beef, pork and whole wheat flour (we raise the wheat and grind it in a small commercial mill in a shed affectionately known as "the grindin' room").

Surplus vegetables, eggs, honey, milk, homemade bread and dried herbs bring us a sporadic sideline income. This might become more important in the future, however, because a doctor has just started referring severe allergy patients who need pure foods to us.






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