The Homestead Farm was purchased in 2012 and is part of the original homestead of Thomas Steele. The Steele family, including Thomas Steele and his cousins John Stevens Steele and Blanchlet (Steele) Miller, were the first settlers on the headwaters of Glady Creek in 1825. The land that made up their pioneer farms was purchased in 1946 by the Burns Family and is still being farmed today. John Stevens Steele and his wife Isabella and many of their children, as well as Blanchlet and Jacob Miller and their children, are buried in the Steele Family cemetery on nearby Burns Farm.
Dan and Ann Burns have worked part time on the family farm in Taylor County since 1999. In 2000, their son Isaiah was born, and he was diagnosed with autism in 2002. Isaiah participates in many of the farm chores including working in the garden, feeding livestock, moving cows to new pasture, building fence, and splitting wood. He loves helping in the barn and garden, putting up hay, and especially feeding all the barn cats. He is an important part of the farm team. In 2014 the idea was born of creating a farm center which would give other individuals with disabilities access to this healthy, peaceful, and nurturing lifestyle: the Homestead Farm Center.
Our nonprofit organization was formed in August of 2014. A dedicated group of volunteers and staff work to provide our clients with a variety of programs to help them reach our goal of having every individual with disabilities be able to “work, learn, live, and thrive”. We completed the first elements of the farm center, the livestock barn and garden, in 2016, adding the greenhouse in 2017. Our first garden was built and planted in the summer of 2016 thanks to our volunteers from the local community and was used with our first program: “Farming, Gardening, and the Great Outdoors,” which was held in cooperation with the Disability Action Center of Marion County. This pilot program was a great success and was followed the next summer by the RURAL (Rural to Urban Agricultural Learning) program, an intensive 12-week farming and gardening class. This Farm Trainee program remains the heart of our RURAL initiative as we work to grow our program offerings in size and scope. HFC now hosts a variety of year round programs both at Homestead Farm, and in Marion County in partnership with the Disability Action Center.
Through the years, we have continued to expand our programs and facility. In 2019, we constructed an Outdoor Classroom pavilion and in 2021, we were able to complete a second building containing a universally-accessible teaching kitchen, all thanks to outstanding community support during our “Raise the Roof” fundraising effort. The next addition to our facility will be a workshop where program participants can learn woodworking and textile arts. Please contact us to learn more about our programs and events.