Back To Nature – Sharing Sustainable Farming Practices with the Community
Article by Sue Baldani
Photography by Provided
Originally published in Franklin Lifestyle
When Olin and Leigh Funderburk moved to Franklin in 2005 and founded Stoney Creek Farm, it was just an empty piece of property. Today, it’s a community treasure offering all kinds of fun and educational outdoor activities.
“We didn’t actually open to the public until 2010,” says Leigh. “Olin built everything we have on the property.”
Both of their families were in the agriculture business, so growing up they learned a lot about farm life. “We just always loved that life,” says Olin. “It’s hard, but very rewarding.” After leaving their corporate and construction careers, they decided to get back into farming. “We feel like we were brought to this farm because God put us here,” says Leigh. “We’re people of faith and we just feel like this is our mission in life. That’s what drew us to jumping off the corporate ladder and touching the community like we do.”
There are many activities for both adults and children to enjoy. The farm has pick-your-own blueberries, blackberries, flowers and herbs. “People can put their own floral bouquets together, and they can take the herbs and make their own meals with them.”
The couple also rents out garden plots for those living in places where they can’t have their own gardens. “We also coach them during the season to help them learn how to do it properly,” says Leigh.
Various types of classes focusing on self-sufficiency and sustainable living are offered all year round. “Olin does a couple of classes. One is on how to grow your own blackberries. We also give participants blackberry canes from our proven stock to grow in their own backyards.”
Leigh runs classes on the preservation of food through canning and dehydration. “We also do classes on kombucha, which is a healthy tea, on sourdough bread making, and on herbs for your medicine cabinet.”
They also offer kids’ classes and camps. “Cori Williams teaches our kids’ classes which revolve around nature, sustainable living and self-sufficiency,” she says. “She just finished ‘The Magic of Mushrooms.’”
There are also homeschool enrichment programs. “We have a covered pavilion, but the classroom is outside,” says Leigh. “Students do creek walks and learn about creek critters and all sorts of wildlife. We have wild turkeys, deer, and more across the property. We also have goats and chickens, so they learn about those too.”
Stoney Creek Farm is available for small events such as birthday parties, family reunions and corporate retreats in its open-air pavilion. “These are all limited to no more than 50 people,” she says. “We don’t want huge events because we like to personally touch our community.” Cori is also on hand to help with arts and crafts and decorations.
Olin and Leigh have a blended family of three grown children, Lin, Landry, and Allison, and they also have a four-year-old farm dog named Harley. He’s a half-Shih Tzu and half-dachshund rescue dog. Leigh says he loves running around, chasing the chickens and barking at the goats. He also rides on the tractor with Olin.