Woodland Farm, in Goshen, Kentucky, is a working property with historic roots and a sustainable vision for the future.
Louisville entrepreneurs and philanthropists Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson purchased historic Woodland Farm in 1996, and since then the farm has grown to focus on sustainable growing practices and heritage foods. The fruits of the farm can be tasted in the dining room of Proof on Main, which receives twice-weekly deliveries of heirloom vegetables and free-range livestock from the 150-year-old farm.
From raising bison on grass pastures to using best practices in the garden, sustainability is practiced farm-wide. The farm’s lumber is harvested from its own forests, and sustainable biofuel is used for farm implements. Gardeners at the farm use sustainable practices such as no-till growing methods and picking insects from plants by hand. As horticulturalist Stephanie Tittle says, “We don’t use any -ides. No pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides.” It’s slow, hard work, but once you taste a fresh-picked fruit or vegetable from Woodland, you’ll understand what the fuss is about.
Art at the Farm
There’s more than bison in the fields – contemporary artworks can also be found dotting the hills around the farm. From the giant pink snails at the farm’s entrance to the Deborah Butterfield horse standing next to the pond, art is integrated into the landscape in unexpected ways that surprise and delight. You never know what you’ll see at Woodland.
Quaint and beautifully restored, the small white Chapel serves as a unique guest house for visitors and artists-in-residence. It’s a building with sentimental significance to Ms. Brown and Mr. Wilson, who transported the chapel piece-by-piece from its original home in rural Kentucky to reassemble it on the farm.
Lumber from the farm is used in the construction of new farm buildings, and it can be seen at other Brown-Wilson ventures as well, such as 21c Museum Hotel, Proof on Main and Garage Bar. Construction supplies don’t get any more local than this.
Woodland offers plenty of opportunities for learning. School groups, garden clubs and art lovers can all learn something new by exploring the weather station, gardens, wildlife and livestock areas.
The farm is home to its very own weather station as part of the Kentucky Mesonet project. This project, which is managed through a partnership between Kentucky’s eight public universities, aims to create a network of climate-monitoring stations throughout the Commonwealth. The data collected is available online and provides a tremendous resource for researchers, students, and gardeners alike.
Dating back to the original land grants of the 1840s, Woodland Farm has been a working farm for over 150 years. In 1996, Ms. Brown and Mr. Wilson stepped in to prevent the 1,000 acre farm from being subdivided by co-founding Oldham Ahead, a land conservancy group, and purchasing the property. Woodland Farm was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1997, and is the single largest Kentucky property on the Register.