Our farm and apostolate offer educational programs on environmental stewardship, family life issues, Catholic home education (homeschooling), adoption and orphan care, homeless and trafficking prevention and recovery, and in various arts and handcrafts. Another important ministry is that of hospitality, whether welcoming students, retreatants, family groups, clergy, or offering respite for adoptive parents.
This proposed 15000 sq. ft. facility will offer a commercial kitchen for teaching and catering, gathering space for approximately 150 guests, dedicated work spaces for various arts and crafts production and classes, smaller meeting or therapy rooms, overnight accommodations for up to 50 guests, a farm and gift shop, and a café. There will also be a separate chapel for Mass and private prayer.
We are working on a design that will replicate the original late-19th century barn. As much as possible, we will utilize traditional, natural building techniques and finishes, and local materials, such as post and beam framing, natural insulation materials, non-toxic paints and finishes, wood and stone flooring, rain water collection, and alternative heat and power. Our farm will supply most of our food needs for guests.
Since the closure of Oakhurst Retreat Center, our diocese has been without a facility. So not only will this retreat center make our farm and apostolate self-sustaining, but will provide a vital service to our diocesan community. The farm and retreat center will also create many new jobs for our community including retail, hospitality, food service, farm and skilled labour, and artists.
The fundraising goal is intended to build, equip, and furnish the centre and chapel. At an average of $120-125 per square foot, our total cost is over $2 million for both center and chapel.
Permaculture: Zone One
We will be replacing the degraded siding, re-building the porch, creating gardens around the house that combine ornamental and edible plants, a small family orchard, a natural play space, and an outdoor kitchen. We will be building a specially designed rocket stove, installing a patio and pergola, gates, and hedgerow. Wherever possible, we will utilize materials sourced here on our farm and from the community waste stream.
Your gift does double duty – it helps defray the cost of supplies and materials but it also provides scholarships for students who are interested in a hands-on learning experience. Instruction will include identification and uses of various plants in the landscape, presentation and explanation of various appropriate technologies and alternative building techniques.
After the initial installation, the Zone One project will provide ongoing education and demonstration.
Pastured Chickens for Eggs and Meat
At Renaissance Farms, we prefer to raise chickens and fowl on grass and with as much freedom as possible. We choose to use a mobile chicken house rather than the currently popular chicken tractor. We will be building chicken houses that will be used to shelter layers and meat birds. Most materials will be sourced from the community waste stream including pallets, corrugated metal, old camper frames, etc. We will be purchasing sufficient numbers of heritage breed chickens to supply ourselves and our customers with pastured eggs and quality pastured meat.
Your gift does double duty – it helps defray the cost of supplies and materials but it also provides scholarships for up to 15 students who are interested in a hands-on learning experience. Instruction will include plans and construction of a chicken house, fencing, protection, location, chicken care, and egg handling.
After the initial installation, the Pastured Chicken project will provide ongoing education and demonstration.
[UPDATE: Offline gifts equal $850 including gifts of educational materials, cash gifts, and our own contributions to the project]
Post-institutionalized children suffer developmental delays as a result of neglect and abuse. On average a child loses 6 months of mental, emotional, spiritual, and social development for every year he is in an institution. While some children fare better, many more fare much worse.
When we brought Nicholas and Olivia home in 2015, they had just begun grades 5 and 6 respectively in their Bulgarian school. Despite that, Olivia was completely illiterate and was unable to correctly speak her mother tongue, and Nicholas had only a passing knowledge of addition facts. It seems they were simply shunted on to the next school grade without the expectation of any real academic achievement.
Since being home, life has improved significantly in many ways. They are loved and cared for, as never before. Their bodies are being healed with nutritious food. They are learning to belong to a real family, and what it is to love others. They are also receiving a proper education for the first time in their lives.
Sadly, trauma does real damage to the brain. In order to repair that damage, one must start back at the beginning and lay a new foundation.
Nissa has spent more than 20 years as a home educator. She is planning to further her study of Montessori with formal training from a MACTE accredited program. She is certified to teach Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (a Montessori religious education program) Level I, and plans to return for certification in Levels II and III.
After a consultation with a child psychiatrist who saw both Nicholas and Olivia this summer, it was agreed that a dedicated learning environment with a full complement of Montessori materials (early childhood through elementary II) would be ideal for helping them to ‘fill in the gaps’ and overcome learned helplessness. In this way, they can begin to catch up to their chronological age-mates and be prepared for greater success as independent adults.
It was also agreed that a traditional school environment would be detrimental to their development and mental health because of their delays and trauma history. Being at home gives them an opportunity to learn at their own pace without fear of peer judgments or added pressure to conform to their age-mates before they are developmentally ready. A home education also ensures year round access to materials and instruction, preventing a lag following a long summer recess.
The cost to renovate the attached barn/carriage house and outfit it with all of the necessary materials is around $25,000. This includes a small amount of remaining demolition, insulation, windows, floors, walls, electric, water, and heating. It also includes a small number of additional furnishings and about $5000 for the least expensive set of Montessori materials. If there are funds remaining at the end of the project, a small fenced garden will be made, accessible through the sliding doors, for all of the children to explore and tend as part of their studies.
We appreciate any gift you can make. You are helping us accomplish a magnum opus – a great work – in these two children. You are ensuring that they receive the best possible foundation for a fruitful and fulfilling life ahead.
We would like to thank you for your gift. Nissa has designed this piece of original art that we are having made into prints for your wall. For every gift of $25 or more, we will send you a 5×7 print, suitable for framing.* If you don’t wish to receive a print, just let us know that you don’t want anything.
*shipping is not included
Market Garden I
We will be constructing a 1.5 acre French-style parterre market garden that will provide food for the farm and for our customers. We will be constructing two high tunnels for season extension, perimeter hedgerow, creating access paths, planting beds, trellis, an emergency water storage and irrigation system, pallet shed for storing tools, gates, and cold frames. Wherever possible, we will utilize materials sourced here on our farm and from the community waste stream.
Your gift does double duty – it helps defray the cost of supplies and materials but it also provides scholarships for students who are interested in a hands-on learning experience. We will begin with a thorough review of the 1.5 acre site plan design and explain the rationale behind planting patterns and plant choices.
After the initial installation, the Market Garden I project will provide ongoing education and demonstration.
GREAT NEWS! We have been awarded a grant to cover most of the cost of our first high tunnel!
In 2016 we saw the realization of a lifelong dream of becoming lavender farmers. But that same summer saw a historic drought here in the Northeast. That coupled with a vital piece of farm equipment being out of commission much longer than anticipated and we lost most of those plants.
In 2018, we hope to re-order all of the plants we need to fill our field and to have enough in reserves to pay some local folks to help us get them quickly into the ground.
The lavender fields are a major part of our farm plan. The proceeds from sales of lavender products will sustain us for at least 20 years as well as help us to grow our ministry to families, to orphans, and to those wishing to learn more about permaculture and self-sufficiency.
When we bought this farm in the spring of 2011, it was considered by many people to be a ‘tear down’. Three separate contractors confirmed that it had great bones, and so we set out to save it. So far, between the purchase and initial restorations which included heat, electricity, insulation, new windows, walls, floors, bathrooms and kitchen, and sill work we have spent well over a half million dollars.
We still need to finish three bedrooms and a bathroom in the main part of the house, install showers in the other two bathrooms, and complete renovations in the attached carriage house that will give us vital space for our schoolroom, office, workshop, and guest accommodation.
The siding needs to be completely replaced, as does the porch that was demolished shortly after we purchased the farm. This will help close up and protect all of the work we have already done inside. It will also present a warm and welcoming face to guests who come to learn or to visit.
Our home not only shelters and comforts our family, but it is our means of extending hospitality to our community, and to those in need especially orphans. It is the heart of our farm and ministry.