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Start 2017 with a Simple, Sustainable Life

Over the past 11 years, Olin and I have changed our lives a little at a time by pairing down our “stuff” and being content with less.  We have found that this practice has created an incredible amount of joy and reduced a massive amount of stress from our lives.  We would like to share some of our successes (and things to avoid) in our 2017 weekly newsletters to help you discover new and different ways to live this year simply and sustainably.

We welcome any suggestions, comments and advice from any of our readers to share with others, so that everyone can benefit from your personal experience!  So please reply back to any of the newsletters this year with your input!  Thank you!

So here are a couple of tips that we began about 10 years ago for Holiday decorations:
If it takes more than 2-3 hours to decorate for Christmas, we don’t do it!

I know…it sounds ridiculous…it did to us too.  But we began by pairing down our decorations to the ones we really loved;  then we only put out the tree ornaments that have memories associated with them;  and we pack everything away in an organized fashion in large plastic bins, so that it’s easy to find and put up the next year (key to success).  And YES, whatever you are not using (after a couple of years), you can give away, donate, or use some things for wrapping gifts (like ornaments, ribbon, etc).  Think about all the people you can bless with your beautiful decorations that you don’t use anymore…

Another tip we started many years ago which saves money and keeps the wrapping station organized:
Use ONE Container for wrapping supplies; including all holiday celebrations (with birthday, anniversary, etc.)

clear-storage-box-for-gift-wrapI know…sounds ridiculous…but it can be done.  You will be amazed how it will simplify the amount of gift wrap you need in your home.  You will not feel the need to go buy oodles and oodles of 50% off gift wrap after the holiday to store for the next holiday, because you will have a manageable wrap station that holds an easy to view inventory.  The only additional bag we have outside the wrap station is a recycle bag full of gift bags that we reuse for the next holiday.  We also save bows and tissue paper (if they are not damaged) to help decrease the landfill for at least another year.

The lesson we learned about simplifying our decorations and wrapping supplies is this:  Simple and organized makes life easier and less stressful.  Simple living leads to sustainable living…

Happy New Year from Leigh and Olin!


    Holiday Fruit Tea Recipe (hot or cold)

    Make your Holiday gathering special with my yummy fruit tea recipe which you can serve over ice in a glass or warm in a mug with a cinnamon stick.  My recipe was featured in the Tennessee Cooperator last year along with a lot of other wonderful hot seasonal drinks from Tennessee kitchens…hope you enjoy!

    Hot Fruit Tea

    6-8 Family-size tea bags
    1-2 cups sugar (to taste)
    1 (12 oz can) frozen orange juice concentrate
    1 (12 oz can) frozen lemonade concentrate
    1 (46 oz can) pineapple juice
    small cinnamon sticks
    Directions:  Brew enough tea for 1 gallon; remove tea bags.  Add sugar; stir until dissolved.  Add enough water for 1 gallon of tea,.  Add thawed orange juice and lemonade concentrate and pineapple juices; stir until mixed well. Heat mixture until warm.  Serve in mugs with a small cinnamon stick in each.  Add additional sugar if needed.  Freeze any leftover tea for later use.  Yield:  About 25 servings.

    Happy Holidays!  Merry Christmas!

    Happy Hanukkah!  Happy Kwanza! 

    We wish You a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

      The Dirt Rich Family Bundle
      makes a Great Holiday Gift!

      Want to support local agriculture and teach families about sustainable living this Holiday Season?  You can do both with the Dirt Rich Family Bundle.  The Bundle contains the following author signed copy books within a red mesh produce bag complete with sparkling bow:

      One “Dirt Rich – How to Experience more Joy and Less Stress Through Sustainable Farm Living” Book
      Two “Dirt Rich Kids Coloring and Activity Books”
      Two farm box crayons

      The bundle is only $25 plus $5 shipping anywhere within the continental US.

      To order your Dirt Rich Family Bundles click the link below:
      Dirt Rich Family Bundle

      Three reasons to brew your own Kombucha.

      1. Cost. The average bottle of kombucha is $3 plus at the store for a 16 oz bottle which is roughly $24 or more per gallon. So after the initial investment in jars, scoby, sugar and tea the continued cost for a gallon of homemade kombucha is roughly $2.
      2. Control.  By brewing your own you control the source of water, sugar and tea. You control the intensity of the final drink by the length of time it ferments. You also control which fruits and juices are used in the second fermenting process thus ensuring its quality meets your personal standards and the amount of sugar content. 
      3. Community.  As time goes on new scobies will grow and you can share them with friends and teach them how to brew their own.

      Brewing Kombucha Class
      with Deana Marcum and Courtney Windham
      Sunday, October 9th, 2 – 4 pm
      Cost $45, which includes instruction, gallon brewing jar, scoby, organic black tea, organic cane sugar

      Deana and Courtney will involve the class in the following activities:
      1.  Demonstration of how to make Kombucha
      2.  Flavoring of Kombucha after fermentation is done
      3.  How to save starter liquid to continue another batch of Kombucha
      4.  Tasting of flavored Kombucha
      5.  Discuss benefits of Kombucha (healthy gut, probiotics and much more)
      6.  Discuss Jun tea (like Kombucha, but made w/ a different scoby and green tea), Keifer, ginger brew, etc.

      All attendees will go home with their own fully brewed gallon jar of Kombucha tea with scoby, so they will not have to wait on it to brew!
      To register:

      http://stoneycreekfarmtennessee.com/events/kombucha-brew-your-own-probiotic-rich-drink/Deana Marcum Bio
      Deana Marcum’s ease into natural living was inspired by two do it yourself, back to basics,question everything parents who lived as self sufficient as possible while raising their five children. Further influenced by grand parents and great grandparents who all gave her a solid foundation on natural living, canning, gardening, cooking and baking from scratch. Her journey into herbalism and natural health really peaked at the age of 19 when researching female health and being introduced to the work of Jethro Kloss. As a working homeschooling mom Deana has a passion for teaching others and finds joy in seeing that “aha” moment when students from 2 to 92 learn something new.  http://www.pinksugarbowl.com

      Courtney Windham Bio
      Courtney Windham is a stay-at-home mom and owner of Simply Traditional Body Care.  Her journey into natural living began over 10 years ago, when her oldest child was diagnosed with severe food allergies in infancy.  She enjoys sharing the knowledge she has acquired along the way with others – hopefully saving them some of the frustrations of trial and error that comes with learning something new!

      #scoby #kombucha #drjoshaxe #healthygut #stoneycreekfarm #dirtrich


      The Secret to Turning a Raised Bed into a Cold Frame is a support system
      that can stay up all year long.


      Olin started with a 4’x8′ raised bed and measured six old windows he had from a remodeling job that were all similar in size.  He then used scrap wood from 2×4’s and plywood to create the frame and placed two hinges to hold each window on the top wood piece.  He was careful not to place the windows too close together because they will shrink and expand depending on the humidity…causing them to stick together during a heavy rain. As you can see from the picture below, the windows create a green house effect that protects cool weather plants from frost damage.


      Last winter we were able to grow carrots, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, collard greens, lettuce, radishes and kale.  I’m sure we could have grown a much bigger variety, but I ran out of space.  Also, we keep a thermometer in the cold frame, and when it get 80 degrees, we prop open a couple of windows, so the plants don’t wilt or dry out.  The cold frame almost serves as a terrarium, because you don’t have to water much at all after you germinate the seeds and everything starts growing.

      #coldframe #stoneycreekfarm #dirtrich #wintergarden #sustainableliving


      Fall Gardens are pretty short lived, so you have to choose seeds that have a quick growing cycle. Otherwise, you can buy plants at the garden center to have bounty before frost.

      My favorite publication site is:


      Just enter “Fall Garden” in the search bar and all sorts of relevant information will pop up.  Great site with great resources!

      Here are the seeds I plant for Fall:  turnip greens, kale, collard greens, lettuce, spinach, radishes, mustard greens and carrots.

      I plant them in a raised bed that we convert to Cold Frame (made with recycled old windows to let the sun in) when the weather starts to get cold and frosty.  I will share more about Cold Frames another blog.

      Leaf Cutter Bees – Super Hero Pollinators!

      When Jay Williams from Williams Honey Farm approached us about a pollination test this Summer season for Solitary Bees (Mason & Leaf Cutter Bees), we didn’t really know what to expect, but he made it very easy. Jay basically did all the work and we reaped all the benefits. We only paid him for cost of the bees and materials. He placed two T-Post Hives on our farm. One T-post Hive was in the area of our U-Pick Community Garden and the other post hive was in our rental gardens. (We rent plots to local people who are either learning how to garden or do not have the space at their homes or apartment communities.) Jay placed approximately 1,000 Leaf Cutter cocoons and bees at each T-Post Hive for the test.

      Leaf Cutter Bees 1

      He placed the bees in early June and they began their pollination cycle. We have never seen anything like it before! We are only estimating, but feel that they at least tripled our pollination rate. We began to feel overwhelmed because we do not have a large enough staff (just the two of us and two volunteers) to keep up with the production of vegetables we were picking every day…much more than in the previous 5 years we have been open. We started out with 6 rows of green beans (4 rows less than last year) and we were not able to pick all of the green beans on two of the rows, before they got dry on the vine…there were just so many beans.  We are determined next year to be more prepared, because we lost a lot of veggies…we just couldn’t harvest it all!

      We sold more squash, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and berries than any previous year we have been open and we feel it is due in a large part to the increased pollination of the leaf cutter bees.

      We opened the garden in mid-June and closed in 6 weeks, 2 weeks earlier than usual. Increased pollination may have played a part, but the heat and excessive rain definitely accelerated plant deterioration.

      Even though we closed two weeks earlier than usual…we still increased our sales 35% above 2015 (and 2015 was higher than any previous year). We had more produce than we could sell so, we also donated almost 1,000 pounds of produce (estimated worth of $1,000) to OneGenAway (www.onegenaway.com) which distributes food throughout our community to the needy and homeless. We felt very blessed this year!

      If you have an interest in getting some Solitary Bees (Mason and/or Leaf Cutter) for your farm, garden or landscape, we definitely recommend Jay Williams and his little Super Hero Pollinators. Contact him at jay@williamshoneyfarm.com.

      Last Week of the Summer U-Pick Garden

      2016 has been a blessed year for sure at Stoney Creek Farm!  We’ve been blessed with a new source of pollinators called “Leaf Cutter Bees” (http://www.williamshoneyfarm.com) which have tripled our pollination rates of our veggies and berries (we are guessing, but feel pretty confident about that ratio). So we have had more produce than ever before and been able to sell more to the community and donate more to needy families through an organization called One Gen Away ( http://www.onegenaway.com)…so it has been a very successful Summer Season.

      All that to say…we are winding down and this will be our last week for the Summer U-Pick Garden.  We will be open two days this week:

      Wednesday, July 20th, 7 am – 7 pm
      Saturday, July 23th, 7 am – 7 pm

      Pesticide Free Berries and Produce available this week:
      Slicer Tomatoes
      Green Tomatoes for frying (be glad to give you my superb recipe too!)
      San Marzano Roma Tomatoes
      Grape Tomatoes
      Red Cabbage
      Brussel Sprouts
      Peaches, dwarf limited
      Basil/Lemon Balm
      Mint/Choc Mint
      16 oz cup of flowers and herbs are only $5 cup stuffed full
      Dirt Rich Book by the Funderburks
      Cracked Pot Herb Book by Cindy Shapton
      Thanks for supporting our Volunteer’s Annual Trip by buying a Farm Temporary Tattoo for $2




      tomatoes in buckets 2016Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

      Every year we grow less tomato plants, but we produce more tomatoes…maybe we are figuring out how to grow healthy ones without pesticides finally?  It’s either that or just dumb luck…ha.  But one way or the other, we have tons of tomatoes and they are beautiful this year!

      We always have mostly hybrid varieties, but always at least one heirloom and this year it’s “Beefsteak”.  The hybrid varieties are:  Amelia, Merit, San Marzano Roma, and Sweetheart Grape.  Regular price is $1.75 lb and if you buy 30 lbs or more for canning, you get a discount to $1.50 lb, if you buy even more, then the discount will be even higher.  We do have some tomatoes with blemishes, slight bruising, etc which we will sell for 1/2 price, so ask about those if interested.

      A lot of farms do not sell green tomatoes, but we do…because we LOVE FRIED GREEN TOMATOES and so do our customers.  (We have a lot of customers who make green tomato pickles too.)  Here is my fried green tomato recipe and I hope you do too:

      fried green tomatoes

      Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe
      -Use ½ bisquick and ½ stoneground cornmeal plus Tony’s Creole Seasoning (to taste – I use a lot) as the dry mix
      -Use one beaten egg and ½ cup milk as the wet mix
      -Heat at least 1”-1 ½” of oil in the skillet on medium heat – do not turn on high, just let it heat while you are battering the slices
      -Core the green tomatoes and slice them into ½” slices
      -Coat each tomato slice in the dry mix, then dip them into the wet mixture, then coat them again in the dry mixture, set on a plate
      -Repeat with each slice
      -When you get enough slices to fill up the skillet, make sure the oil is hot enough by putting a pinch of cornmeal mix in oil to make sure it will fry.
      -Fill the skillet with slices and after the first side is medium brown, then flip and brown the second side.
      -Repeat with the rest of the tomato slices.

      tomato pie


      If you have never tried Tomato Pie, you have really missed out…there is nothing like it!  My family never made it while I was growing up, but I had a friend who introduced me to it in my late 20’s and I’ve been making it ever since.  It’s incredibly yummy and a definite comfort food.


      Tomato Pie Recipe:

      4 large tomatoes, ripe, peeled and sliced
      10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
      1/2 cup chopped green onion
      9 inch prebaked deep dish pie shell
      1 cup grated mozzarella
      1 cup grated cheddar
      1 cup mayonnaise
      salt and pepper to taste
      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
      Layer the tomato slices, basil and onion in a pie shell, season with salt and pepper. Combine the grated cheeses and mayonnaise together.  Spread the mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
      Cut and serve warm

      This recipe was adapted from a Paula Dean recipe.

      Visit Stoney Creek Farm and our Pick Your Own Summer Garden on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 am – 7 pm and Sundays 1-7 pm  to enjoy a relaxing afternoon of family fun picking veggies and berries.  We also offer a playground for the kids, a big Toy Box on the porch and free ice pops to help the kids keep cool.  Come back to the farm and remember what it was like to visit the grandparents….step back in time…


        Dirt Rich

        Here’s the story of a couple who jumped off their corporate ladders into a small farm…finding a more peaceful and joyful life.  They want to share their journey with you, the difference it made in their lives and how you can live sustainably too, whether that’s in your backyard or on a few acres.

        Dirt Rich Reviews

        “In Dirt Rich, Leigh and Olin Funderburk lay out a beautiful plan for a simple, sustainable life style. Not one that strips the joy and beauty from life, but one that enhances those very characteristics. They guide us through their model of enriching their lives and those of the people in their community, and how you can do the same.”

        Dan Miller

        Dan Miller, New York Times Bestselling Author of “48 Days to the Work You Love”


        “Before making the jump to homesteading, you should definitely get the inside “dirt” on how to turn your dream into a profitable reality.  In this charming and insightful book, Leigh and Olin Funderburk, owners of Stoney Creek Farm, share their journey towards a sustainable lifestyle.  Teachers at heart, you will learn (and laugh) as they share what worked for them, and what didn’t, and the (sometimes surprising) lessons they learned along the way.”

        pic of Cindy

        Cindy Shapton, Herbalist, Speaker, and Author of the “The Cracked Pot Herb Book”

        “If you are interested in a practical guide to sustainable farming, begin with this book.  Nothing beats hands-on experience, and in Dirt Rich, Leigh and Olin Funderburk, owners of Stoney Creek Farm, effectively and succinctly share theirs.  Dirt Rich is one of those rare books that simultaneously stakes out an engaging read filled with useful, real-world content, one which is sure to have you out searching for a farm of your own!  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a jump-start on the journey to sustainable living.”

        Clark Gaither

        Clark Gaither, MD, Bestselling Author of “Powerful Words”

        To get your own copy of “Dirt Rich”, simply click on the link below:

        Buy “Dirt Rich” Now