Welcome to BFRC

Baldwin Farm Resource Center (BFRC)

“Living Systems Education, Eco-Restorative Design, Nurturing the Natural World”        112 Baldwin Road Hillsborough, NC 27278 (919) 644-2677

BFRC Director, Laura Baldwin

Baldwin Farm Resource Center (BFRC) is EarthWalk Alliance’s incubator demonstration project showcasing permaculture, living systems design, and eco-restorative design. Its facilities provide our local community a social resource for groups and individuals interested in observing our ideas in action. The Alliance provides funding for BFRC infrastructure and development programs. BFRC is open to the public to demonstrate and educate about:

  • Permaculture
  • Living systems design (see definition below by Chuck Marsh)
  • Social re-education
  • Back to nature values reinforcement for children of all ages
  • After-school life skills education
  • A meeting venue for small groups up to 30
  • Local, sustainable food practice and production
  • Heirloom seed production

Living Systems Demonstration

Living Systems Design (definition taken from Living System Design web site: http://www.livingsystemsdesign.net/ ) “is a Permaculture and whole systems design, planning and educational training group dedicated to the creation of unique productive environments that meet the needs of humans while restoring abundance, health, and diversity to the landscapes we occupy. Permaculture can be defined as an ecological design system for the creation of regenerative human habitats.

BFRC uses Permaculture principles and practices to create landscapes that are not only beautiful, but also functional, conserving energy, water, and resources while producing abundant yields of food and natural resources for all. Permaculture design also offers a wonderful approach to the creation of creative outdoor learning environments for all ages”.

Come by the Resource Center to see some of our “green” technology. We have photovoltaic (PV) solar panels which power an active greenhouse heating system and a biodiesel co-op fuel dispersal facility. You can see demonstrations of permaculture in the beautiful, 4-acre environs carefully built up over the past 20 years, as well as what may be the world’s first foundation/cistern test site. With this active solar greenhouse heating system, flat plate collectors are seen beyond the right hand side of our 1100-gallon capacity cisterns. And there’s more on the way—we are currently installing a gravity rainwater flow system. This system demonstrates how water can be intelligently managed to create Living Systems based on eco-restorative design ideas.

The Wells Library  

We also welcome you to consider using our facility for group meetings—or explore our library, a resource of The New Monk Project. The Wells Library features over 1200 volumes dealing with psychological, spiritual, and social aspects of EarthWalk’s eco-spiritual lifestyle, as well as books on practical topics such as architecture, gardening, and planetary health. For more information on the Wells Library, including a full listing of books available, please refer to the library page on the New Monk website.

Heirloom Seeds

Part of the Resource Center’s land space is dedicated to propagating indigenous seeds collected from around the world. Indigenous seeds provide a resource for local sustainable farmers and individual families living in towns, cities, and rural areas. Heirloom seeds are more resistant to disease, and more adaptive to xeriscaping—the use of native plants in gardens and yardscapes, which minimizes the need for irrigation. These seeds are being used for our “Garden in the Box” project—an effort to help people grow vegetables in urban locations.


The Giggling Garden

“The Giggling Garden” is a spinoff of Garden in the Box which focuses on drawing the attention and imagination of young children back to the garden! We currently are packaging kits for this project to be implemented in local elementary schools.

 

Student Learning Program and Classroom

Our classroom facility can accommodate up to 30 people. We are offering after-school learning programs for high school and community college students.

 

 

Baldwin Farm Resource Center Chestnut Grove

Thanks to the vision of Guy Baldwin, his surviving Baldwin family members now maintain one of the few known stands of mature grafted American Chestnuts in North Carolina. Last year marked the first time enough Chestnuts were harvested for distribution to local food cooperative interests.

Our hope is to see grafted examples from this 250 tree grove help restock what was once the most pervasive hardwood tree in the eastern United States.

  A Playful Bio Diesel Shed

 As part of Baldwin Farm Resource Center’s educational program, we are creating new water flows for active learning school children programs. This particular water flow demonstration will be a lot of fun for school aged children and parents alike. Kids who visit us will make it rain with our garden hose, and then watch the rain they made tumble down our bio diesel shed’s gutters and downspouts in playful ways. Then the best fun starts. Water that splashed down our homemade downspout finds its way into an underground cistern like the ones grandpa used in the old days. On top of that cistern there’s an old green hand pump, just like the one grandma had in her kitchen before city water was on hand. Each kid gets to pump that old pump up and down until water comes out of the cistern. And they get to see it splash into an old make-believe grist mill flume. There it dances along in full sight to our rain garden, right where you can see it splashing onto our happy rain garden plants!

In this way kids get to experience how water can be collected, and used to water (nurture) plants in our rain garden. In this way kids can see how buildings can be used to collect rainwater, and then help us keep our planet green.

This story began when the time came to build a shed for our bio diesel cooperative storage tank. Our task was to find a way to contain any possible bio diesel overflows, and at the same time show our visitors a working example of how buildings can be used to help make our farm more fertile.

So we buried a big precast concrete septic tank nearby and made two separate compartments inside of it. One part of the tank was designed to hold the biodiesel and the other to hold rainwater. Then we designed a metal roofed shed to cover the original above ground biodiesel metal tank that’s been on the farm for years. Rainwater landing on our new shed roof is collected in imaginative ways so that anyone standing nearby can actually see the water going from the roof into our wooden gutters, then to an underground pipe that’s connected to the underground cistern. This same water can be pumped out with an old hand pump and again, in an imaginative way, sent its merry way along a homemade wooden flume (slue to some folks) to a nearby rain garden.

Each time this happens during an educational event at the farm, kids are told the story of how precious water is, and how they can help nourish the Earth by saving water collected from building roofs.

“How is this possible?” our kids might ask. Well, the answer is pretty simple. Each time we store rain water collected from building roofs, then use it in dry weather, we extend the range and diversity of the plants receiving the water being pumped to them. And micro organisms living underneath where plants grow can be benefitted too. In this way, over time, we contribute to the creation of more living things.

As children grow up, they’ll remember experiencing stories like this one. It’s important for kids to learn to value the natural world. Someday when they are adults, they’ll remember to always look for opportunities to enrich the lives of plants, soil, and yes, even bugs!

The Baldwin Farm Resource Center has been developed over the past three years thanks to private donations and a CCAP water and soil conservation grant from the state of North Carolina. Our latest grant is from the Forest Foundation, a local non-profit organiztion in Durham NC. Plan a visit today, and see EarthWalk Alliance in action.

BFRC is located at 112 Baldwin Road, Hillsborough, NC 27278, west of the Raleigh/Durham area.

View BFRC on Google Maps


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