Nestled into the curves of the Vermillion River, Bellwether Farm is a camp, retreat, and education center dedicated to exposing the wider community to the creation that sustains all of life. As a working farm, its life focuses on four primary activities.
Facilities & Grounds
Bellwether Farm is a unique and affordable option for your next gathering. The center offers brand new facilities featuring a green technology, renewable energy, and water reclamation systems.
Spring is in the air and there is hardly a more magical spring setting than the fields and forest at Bellwether Farm. The forest floor is bursting with life. The birds are busy with renewed vigor. The chickens are enjoying fresh pasture. Even the tiny soil critters are waking up as the ground warms, poised for a new season of growing food.
Garlic is one of the first crops to pop up on the farm in spring. It’s best to plant it in the fall before the ground freezes which allows the roots to become established before winter. We like to plant it 2 inches deep in a fresh layer of compost, covered with about 6 inches of straw mulch. Last fall we planted over 3,000 garlic cloves with help from Diocesan staff and other volunteers. It’s just now starting to poke up through the straw and looks to be a promising harvest. As with much of last year's vegetable crop, we look forward to sending a large portion of the harvest to local parishes through our Feeding the Beloved Community partnerships. Keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities on the farm with Farmer Kyle including vegetable seed-starting and transplanting.
Our second full season of maple sugaring is just now winding down as the buds on the trees begin to pop. We’re grateful for the many volunteers who pitched in to help with the sugaring process which included collecting maple sap in buckets, splitting firewood, monitoring the evaporator in the sugar shack, and the most important task, tasting the syrup. We have lots of fresh syrup and hope to share some of our harvest with you at the farm this year.
As the pandemic continues to present all of us with new challenges, we expect to continue using our successful COVID-safe model for hosting, which we implemented for personal, family, and Advent retreats last year. Beginning in April, we are offering Clergy retreats the first Monday of every month, from now through the liturgical year. Retreats will begin
Monday evenings at dinner and last through breakfast Wednesday morning.
We’re also looking forward to our first catch-and-release fishing competition on April 24. Bellwether has a 4-acre pond, stocked with lots of fish! Immediately following the competition we’ll have a fish fry for all those in attendance.
Last but not least, mushrooms! Have you ever heard the saying that April showers bring May flowers? Well, they also bring morel mushrooms, a spring delicacy sought by mushroom foragers everywhere. Join us each Saturday in May for “You pick, we sauté.” We’ll hike the trails together in search for the famous cone-shaped morels. Mushrooms found on site will be brought to the kitchen for Chef Lonny to sauté and share with everyone. If no morels are found, we will at least have the satisfaction of having spent the afternoon in the forest, which is itself a springtime gift. As Margaret Atwood suggests, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
Clergy Retreat – Beginning in April, first Monday of every month through the liturgical year – Monday evening beginning with dinner through Wednesday morning ending with breakfast
April Spring Seeding – Keep an eye out for our spring seeding dates in the greenhouse with Farmer Kyle
April 24 - Fishing Competition – Catch and release fishing competition with a fish fry
Morels in May "You pick, we sauté" – Help us hunt for morel mushrooms – Chef Lonny will prep
Bellwether Farm is a model of green technology featuring passive buildings, renewable energy, and more. It is a vehicle through which we can teach the wider community about fidelity to the environment, nutrition, physical and spiritual wellness, local food sourcing, food justice, and sustainable living.
Volunteer around Bellwether Farm. Opportunities are posted as they become available.