By Holly Boname of MyABC50
It’s a place of creativity, a place of outlet, and a place of refuge for the art community and those seeking a life of sustainability.
"Better Farm is a sustainability education center and artist retreat space,” said Nicole Caldwell, owner and co-founder of Better Farm.
Better Farm, Inc. is set on 65 acres in Redwood and is a space where the only mission is to adhere to the disciplines of the ‘Better Theory.’
“The ‘Better Theory’ is a little thing of my uncle's," she said, "which basically says that everything that happens to you, good or bad, is an opportunity for exponential personal growth.”
The Better Farm mission statement continues that, “Better Farm is dedicated to enhancing the local and regional community by offering each individual the opportunity to expand, grow, and flourish sustainably, artfully and in tandem with the living world around him or her.”
Nicole's uncle in 1970 bought the property with the goal to develop what she recalls as a ‘hippy commune.’ Visiting the farm throughout her life and learning from her uncle, Nicole was gifted the Better Farm upon her uncle's passing.
“He and I had discussed doing music festivals and having artist retreats, and just doing a lot of art-related activities, so he left it to me to go ahead with,” said Nicole. “I moved up here two years ago, almost exactly, and from there filed an LLC, made a website, and started inviting people.”
She now is working to continue that legacy of sustainable living and creative expression through exploration.
Nicole says that people throughout the surrounding community in Redwood have been very receptive and helpful with the development of the self sustainable farm. Gardens on the grounds are 100 organic and nothing is wasted.
A greenhouse was recently constructed on the grounds with all the windows donated by people from Redwood. Cardboard—not plastic or synthetic fabrics—serves as a weed barrier for rows and rows of produce in the garden.
The main house is two stories with many different communal living areas, two kitchens, and many individual bedrooms for the resident artists. Larger rooms are set up for interns that come to the farm to learn about sustainable farming.
“The end goal has a few prongs to it," Nicole said. "One, we want to increase access to the arts in the area; so whether that is low-cost or free studio space, musical instruments or lessons, festivals, concerts and performances, or gallery openings so that people have access to seeing art and being a part of it.
"But we also want to to increase vocal consciousness about growing your own food, composting, living in a more sustainable way, and providing this living laboratory for people to show up at and just get creative and be curious and learn about new things.”
For Nicole, she says that the most important and rewarding aspect of continuing the Better Farm legacy is living more purposefully and feeling that she has a cause worthy of her time and efforts. “It’s no more cubical culture for me,” she said.
Better Farm has scheduled its annual Open House & Fundraiser at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 28. “It’s free and open to the public, and there will be raffles and a barbeque, and bands and a public art installation that we are all going to be working on. Everyone is invited,” said Nicole. For more information about Better Farm, visit www.betterfarm.org.