written by Renee Harding
Pat Beichler started the Daufuskie Island Community Farm (DICF) 7 years ago on “a dream and a dollar”. The farm now houses over 20 Nubian goats which provide delicious milk for the volunteers, some of which is made into yogurt and cheese. A garden and an orchard grow organic fruits and veggies. Every morning, eggs from free-ranging chickens are collected and taken home by community members. Many other animals live at the farm, each with their own purpose and personality. DICF is completely volunteer-ran, and locals may share in the bounty by purchasing a farm membership.
When the 9-acre land was leased in 2010, the farm volunteers certainly had their work cut out for them. In order to convert the heavily forested landscape into farmable land, the entire area had to be clear-cut. Operating under the principles of self-sustainability and local harvesting, the farm used an on-site saw mill to convert these trees into fences and buildings.
Anyone who has taken a stroll through DICF has probably enjoyed the company of some unlikely walking partners – the goats. These free-ranging Nubian goats are surprisingly social; they’ll follow visitors around the farm waiting for a free handout. On hotter afternoons, you will find them lounging in the dirt, kicking the occasional fly off. Volunteers offer the goats organic food and a lot of love, and in return receive fresh goat’s milk every morning.
Each goat has his or her distinct personality, and many of Daufuskie’s locals have formed bonds with them. The baby goats are especially popular – in May and June of this year the farm welcomed 14 new goats into the world! Visitors flocked to the farm to take a peek at the kids. Goats can be “sponsored” by anyone in the community; the sponsor pays a quarterly fee for the goat’s food and gets to name the kid.
The farm is also home to two Jersey cows; Bagel and Muffin. They’ve been out of commission for a bit, but will be bred soon. Farm volunteers are getting excited to have delicious cow milk again!
Ducks, chickens, geese, and guinea fowl also call the farm home. The ducks and geese provide eggs and eat pesky insects that bother other farm animals (and volunteers!). Guinea fowl especially love to eat ticks, so their contribution is much appreciated.
The garden at DICF houses a wide variety of vegetables and herbs such as collard greens, okra, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, corn, rosemary, lavender, basil, sage, thyme, peppermint, and parsley. Extra help in the garden is always welcome; fighting off weeds and cutting back bolting plants are ongoing battles. Large blackberry and blueberry patches toward the back of the garden offer a delightful treat for passerbys.
The farm’s orchard has come an impressively long way in one year. Once an empty landscape, the orchard is now covered in trees that produce apples, plums, peaches, figs, and pomegranates. Blueberry bushes are dotted throughout, and the ground is covered in edible plants such as squash, watermelons, and cantaloupes. Keeping these plants sufficiently watered was one of the biggest issues for the orchard, so large swales were dug across to help establish a water table. Planting a lush ground cover also helped retain water by diminishing evaporation. Conservation of water is key on this farm!
The largest motivation for creating the Daufuskie Island Community Farm lies in the title itself: “community”. Pat Beichler and other key players wanted to foster a sense of togetherness on Daufuskie Island, connecting folks toward a common goal. It continues on that thread to this day, with volunteers from all over the island coming together to support the farm. The main goal is simple: to provide the island with local organic food. To reach that goal, the farm needs more help in the form of donations and volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering at the Daufuskie Island Community Farm, contact Pat Beichler at (843)842-8999 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate, visit the farm’s website.