Monday, November 25, 2013

A Tractor in the Collection Plate

The new roof on Coop Mitchell
Ice sickles are on the roofs here at Camp Mitchell, but spring is closing in fast. By the spring planting season we have to have our seeds ordered, soil prepared, and transplants grown. So we have been taking advantage of the nasty weather to do some planning. I have been compiling information on crops that we would like to grow next year. Jenny is working on all the forms and information needed to get people registered for summer camp in 2014.

Our chicks are 3 weeks old today. They are growing their big-girl feathers fast and we've discovered they go cuckoo for raisins! We took them on their first outdoor adventure/field trip on Wednesday and they were able to scratch around in the dirt and leaves. We are now confident in identifying most of our birds: 6 Buff Laced Polish (small white eggs), 4 Egyptian Fayoumis (small white eggs), 1 Barred Plymouth Rock (large brown eggs), 1 Golden Laced Wyandotte (large brown eggs), 8 Striped Pencil Hamburgs (medium white eggs), and 3 we are not sure about yet, maybe Buff Orpingtons, but not for certain. In case you had not heard, 4 died in the first week, but the remaining 23 members of our congregation seem to be very healthy and happy.

First Field Trip!

We are also collecting resources and tools for our farm. ARI taught us the importance of using local resources. We are very excited if we can reuse some piece of junk or buy from local businesses; We do this because 1) it means not supporting industry that pollutes our environment, 2) reduces waste, 3) it is cheaper, and 4) it allows us to make connections based on local friendship rather than cooperate wealth.

Some ways we have been able to practice this ethic so far include:

First pile of rice husk charcoal!
- Chef Adam is helping us collect kitchen scraps for compost
- We bought compost from North American Composting in North Little Rock
- We made a kiln for making rice hull charcoal made from a rusty coffee can and a rusty pipe
- We collected eleven windows out of an old house to make cold frames for starting seedlings in cold weather
- Harold Hedges helped us buy a used tractor and a bush-hog attachment from a friend of his
- Helen at the petting zoo just down the road gives us stalls of manure to compost
- The electric company showed up to clear the power lines here and agreed to dump a truck load of their wood chips for us to use as mulch
- We made a brooder house for our chicks out of old picnic tables, windows, and a screen door from one of the cabins.
- Our friend Nathanael Wills helped us till the ground for our wheat field.
- The AYE kids helped us sow the wheat
- We bought rice hulls from ETW, a local distributor of southern rice hulls and wood chips for poultry bedding
- A neighbor named Travis came and bulldozed the area where our garden will be on the farm side
- a parishioner from St. Peter's, Gail, gave us a grain grinder to use for our wheat next summer
- Many people have already volunteered for a day or two to help to donate some of their time and muscle
Harold unloading the tractor. 

As the needs of our farm grow and become more complex, we want our community network to do the same. To communicate to the rest of the world what we can use here for the Camp Mitchell Farming Project, we have started a new tab called “Pitch In!”

Check it when you feel like helping your food grow. If you see a need that you think you can provide, email Jenny Knight at or Doug Knight at .

We would also like to start an email distribution list for folks interested in receiving news about work weekends and updated needs. If you would like to be on this list, please comment here or send us an email requesting to be added to the farm email list.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Chicks Are Here!

Episcopoultry Ministry

The leaves are falling up here at Camp Mitchell. Jenny and I have been hard at work settling into our new home, making preparations for the Camp Mitchell Agricultural project, and getting a few seeds to germinate before the frosts come. 

We have great news! As our Uncle Timo of Ghana would say, we have started our ministry. Our congregation is 27 in number and very young— two days old! We picked our baby chicks up from the post office. They were jet lagged and cranky, but once we got them moved into their new home they were snuggling up to the heat lamp and sippin’ on some garlic/honey infused water. They are all hens of different varieties; We think right now we’ve got some golden penciled hamburgs, Egyptian fayoumis,  Rhode Island reds, six polish chicks, and a few other varieties we aren't sure about yet. They are all certainly cute though!

In two months they will be big and fluffy enough to keep themselves warm. Until then we’ve got to get to work on what Jenny is calling Coop Mitchell. We are turning an ancient, wasp-filled, shed into the chicken coop. So far we've pulled out the rotten floor and replaced the rotten roof. Next up we have got to build a roost, laying boxes, and improve the ventilation. God willing, by March of next year, they will be cozy, fat, and full of eggs. 

Despite the coming cold, we are really feeling invigorated by the arrival of new life here. It gives us hope that one day soon, we might have something like a farm up here! When something goes bump in the night, Jenny and I are up to check on our chicks. We are really depending on them for a lot. They will provide not only eggs for camp, but manure to fertilize our gardens, insect control, and a vitality that will allow many people to connect with our project. 

Faith, Farm, and Food

Last week Jenny and I drove to Sewanee, TN for a conference at the University of the South. We were talking about faith, farm, and food with people from across the Episcopal Church that are involved at the intersection of these three things. Some people we met were priests, some were farmers, some were writers, some were educators, most were a blend of all these. 

Some topics on the table were: 1) why is the Episcopal Church interested in  agricultural reform and improving our food systems? 2) what does farming have to do with God’s plan? 3) How can the church function as a part of the movement to reform our food systems?

Friends From Japan!

We met Hironori at ARI last February.

“Where are you two from?”


“Wow! Do you know ATU?”

“Yeah. In Russleville.”

“I will study there in August.”

We were amazed to have met someone in Japan who would soon be living so close to our home. Finally we found some time to meet Hironori and two of his friends and show them some of Arkansas’ beauty. We went to Mount Nebo and also visited with a parishioner from All Saints, Russelville who is from Japan. We are planning to get together with her and Hironori again to make Sushi!

We miss Japan a lot and really enjoyed listening to Hironori and his friends speak their beautiful language. 

Peace be with you,

Doug and Jenny Knight