Goats, chickens and a pig named Petunia make their home at a Mennonite farm located along Bouldercrest Road in DeKalb County.
“We’ve got a beautiful little slice of heaven out here,” said Bremen James, the farmer at Oakleaf Mennonite Farm since June 2011.
With 2.25 cultivated acres, Oakleaf Mennonite Farm, in its third year, started as a garden by a church congregant.
“It was a labor of love,” James said. “The church decided to develop the garden into a larger farm for use as community outreach.”
“So they slowly started plowing up the plots with volunteer help, pitching in money as they could and slowly built it up,” James said. “We’re still in our infancy, but we’re growing up fast though.”
Much of the work at the farm is devoted to “a lot of education,” said James. The farm hosts school groups, farm tours and has a Girl Scout garden bed.
During summer farm camps, approximately 25-30 children, ages 5-13, participate in “various activities like weeding and mulching and planting and harvesting,” James said.
“And we make sure they get animal time every day, and we cool them off in the sprinkler while we water the plants in the afternoon,” James said.
Eleven-year-old Joel Saidi, junior camp counselor at the farm, helps with “the little kids because most of the little kids are around 6 years old.”
“Sometimes it’s just too much for the counselors, so we help,” Saidi explained.
Saidi said he likes farm camp because “it’s not usual.”
“Most camps you’re in a building the whole time,” Saidi said. “On the farm there’s so many different activities and lots of animals and lots of tasty foods.”
Mia Kuperminc, 9, spent one week in farm camp last year and four this year. The camp is sponsored by SoulShine After School and Summer Camp.
“It’s fun,” Kuperminc said. “You get to learn about vegetables and animals, and see cute baby chicks and goats and the moon chicken and Petunia [the pig].”
Kuperminc said one thing she has learned is that “the best strawberries are the reddest ones.”
“And you should look for them under the leaves,” she said. “The best ones are usually hiding under the leaves.”
Approximately 25-30 percent of the farm’s budget is funded by weekly sales at East Atlanta Village Market, Grant Park Market and East Lake Market.
The farm also supports a 37-member community supported agriculture (CSA) program. CSA members can purchase half or full shares in the program and receive a box of food, including bread from H&F Bread Company in Buckhead, peaches from Dickey Farm in Musella or Pearson Farm in Crawford, and blueberries.
The boxes will soon be supplemented with fresh eggs from the farm, James said.
Johnathan Barhite, a first-season CSA member, said he likes picking—and eating—the farm’s harvest because “produce in the grocery store is more shelf-stable than nutrient-filled.”
Working at the farm “gives me a little inspiration for what I’m cooking during the week,” Barhite said.