Round the Bend Farm showcases new animals, buildings, and crops
Round the Bend Farm is in the midst of change with new livestock, buildings, and crops.
The monthly Open Farm Day on September 16 doubled as a tour of the property for about two dozen visitors, showcasing young piglets and calves born recently on site, ever-expanding gardens and crops, and a progress update on a set of new buildings at the non-profit working farm with a mission of providing a sustainable, local, and educational venue for agriculture.
Geoff Kinder, who owns Paradox Acres and also serves as Farm Manager, oversees livestock on the property – including 20 piglets born on Labor Day and several new calves also born recently. During the tour, farmer Nate Sander explained that the piglets will spend their first few weeks living in a barn with the three sows that gave birth to them.
“The litters get to know each other in the barn for six weeks before moving out,” Sander said.
Sander also showed visitors the farm’s cows – black angus and red devon beef cattle, and a lone dairy cow named Milkshake – who were busy grazing in a field, along with the recently born calves.
Although most of the beef cattle and pigs will eventually be slaughtered for meat, the process used to determine when animals are ready is a little different between the species, explained Sander.
Pigs are usually slaughtered once they reach between 150 and 200 pounds. For cows, however, Sander explained they are picked based off of their behavior as opposed to strictly weight. Cows which are aggressive or disruptive to the herd may be chosen first, he explained, as cows are more social animals.
New animals aren’t the only change at Round the Bend. Every year, former pasture land is being converted into new fields for new crops in and around the farm's main building. This year, new grapevines were planted. Staff are also nearing completion of a new set of buildings on the property to better support operations and the community.
It's a major effort the farm is undertaking since becoming its own independent non-profit in 2015. It was initially established with support from the Marion Institute and its Executive Director, Desa Van Laarhoven, who now serves as the farm's Executive Director.
The buildings include two new kitchens – one for workshops and teaching, and a larger commercial-grade kitchen and processing space. A new function hall will also give the farm more space to host community events.
In sticking with the farm’s mission, the buildings feature wood and materials sourced locally – in some cases from trees felled on site – south-facing roofs ideal for solar, composting toilets, and unique architecture. It's in line with the farm's sustainable mission, put forth by Kinder and Van Laarhoven.
“It’s really an embodiment of our ethics and Geoff and Desa [Van Laarhoven’s] vision,” Sander said.
As much of the work is being done by hand, Sander said it’s tough to pinpoint an exact date for finishing construction. Ground was broken last December.
Public farm tours are hosted monthly during Open Farm Days. The next Open Farm Day is on October 21. For a schedule of upcoming events, visit roundthebendfarm.org.