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Morgan Co. farm a home for camp, music and organic growing

April 19, 2005|by TRISH RUDDER

trishr@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Cut out of a hillside, Wind Dance Farm, with its original log home and 20 acres of land, is off Virginia Line Road, about 10 miles from Berkeley Springs. There is a sense of peace, and owner Leslie Milbourne said a lot of people say the same.

Wind Dance Farm is the home of Milbourne, husband John Devine, and her 13-year-old daughter, Chenaya Milbourne. They are organic farmers, home-school teachers and summer camp providers.

This is the second year Wind Dance Farm plans to offer Community Supporting Agriculture. Nine families support the farming by paying a weekly fee of about $30 a week for 18 weeks and they receive an equal share of the harvest each week. Milbourne said they also offer an alternative "work share" plan that costs $20 a week with a commitment of a total of 10 hours of farm work. The produce is grown biointensively, which is a "method of farming of growing more food in less space using organic methods," Milbourne said.

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The farm grows a variety of vegetables, herbs and berries in about 15 crop beds, Milbourne said. Organic seeds are purchased, and the farm saves seeds as well. Milbourne has marked off an area for chickens they will raise for their personal use.

Milbourne said when she was looking for land to buy about five years ago, there was a "strong pull to come farther west." She said she was "always drawn to the mountains."

The family was living in Pennsylvania where she taught garden-based science. She has a master's degree in environmental education, she said.

"I love the farming part. I come from a line of farmers," she said.

Milbourne said her dad loved it as well, and she learned how to appreciate the earth, she said.

Milbourne realized she needed a bigger place when she used all of her Pennsylvania house yard space for crop growing. Her dad said to her, "Leslie, you need a farm."

Devine is a musician. He sings and plays the guitar and performs with fiddle player Steve Hickman.

"The location is good for John, since he plays music in D.C.," she said.

During the school year, Milbourne and Devine offer a home-school program on Tuesday and Thursday at Wind Dance Farm.

"It is a treat to role model a sustainable lifestyle," she said.

On Thursdays, Devine performs for the kids and they all sing together. The students learn old-time dancing and singing, natural history and science, and creative writing - "poetry to long prose," said Milbourne. The participating children are ages 7 to 13.

Chenaya has been home-schooled for four years, Milbourne said.

Home Spun Fun is this year's theme for the four summer camps offered at Wind Dance Farm. The five- or seven-day "camp gatherings" will offer activities like archery, gourd art, spinning wool and loom weaving.

In addition to Milbourne and Devine, three additional adults will be at the camp. Daily guests from the community will include archers and art teachers, she said.

Wilderness skills also are taught by local teachers such as Mike the Firemaker, who teaches primitive firemaking skills.

"We like hiring local folks to share with the kids," she said.

The summer camp brings in local children and those from the Washington and Philadelphia areas, Milbourne said.

Each year, the family attends the one-week Country Dance Song Society camp in Buffalo Gap, W.Va. Milbourne plays flutes and other instruments and accompanies Devine.

Chenaya sings and plays the harp and piano. She also is an award-winning Irish dancer.

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