Amish Farm Leads The Way to Local Food Security in Indiana

Now this is pretty cool

Future Growing LLC

Greenhouse at Sunrise Hydroponics Greenhouse at Sunrise Hydroponics. (Click photo to enlarge)

When you hear about a farm that supplies all-natural, sustainable produce, using 90% less water and 90% less land, one that utilizes the most advanced vertical aeroponic technology on earth, you surely would not guess it would be an Amish farm. Yet in Topeka, Indiana, you cannot get produce that is more local, fresh, healthy, and sustainable — even in the middle of an Indiana blizzard — like you can get at Sunrise Hydroponics, an Amish farm.

Sunrise Hydroponics is owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Marlin and Loretta Miller on their rural farm in Topeka. I have had the privilege of working with the Amish community for more than half a decade, and have come to learn that, while their lives seem simple to many outsiders, their homes, farms, and businesses are highly innovative. The Amish utilize cutting-edge and creative forms of technology to improve…

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House update

IMG_1561Lounge room – gib is up

IMG_1563 Looking up the stairwell – installing gib

IMG_1564Looking into the kitchen from the dinning space (& that’s Croydon, our master builder)

IMG_1565The cubby space under the stairs

IMG_1566Those are the stairs, one set on the ground on it’s side, the other in place

IMG_1567Another peek up the stairwell

IMG_1568Drain layers installing the grey water system

IMG_1569They dug a huge moat around the the whole house

IMG_1570 It was a little worrying to see them dig up so much of flat yard and pile the dirt up

IMG_1571More pipage

IMG_1578Cola 🙂

IMG_1595Stairs! Oh beautiful stairs.


IMG_1598Picking out the curtainage 🙂

Our eco life: Atamai Open Day 2013


Kyoko, Ayane & Tracey

Our eco life: Atamai Open Day 2013.

via Our eco life: Atamai Open Day 2013.

My role for the day was to sit in that chair and look decorative, I think I did pretty well for such a hard task 😉

We had a really lovely day, weather & people wise. The end of the day was equally lovely, just being able to hang out with the villagers sharing a huge order of fish and chips and chatting about how the day went. The other awesome part of the day for me was getting to cuddle with Ayane for most of the day. Ahh, living in community is awesome.

Week in the Life – Day 07

Sunday is all about the market, but first I have to get these two out of bed, it’s just so hard when we are all so warm and snuggly.

The view from my bedroom window, one of the few things I do like about this current house.


One awake, one to go:


A moment of quiet contemplation:


Our pajama bundle as we hurry to get dressed and out the door.


This is what Sunday breakfast is all about, bratwurst



A little retail therapy


Freezing cold berry smoothie, so good, but so cold!


Just about my most favorite food in the world and one I have desperately missed getting a regular fix of since we moved to New Zealand, you do not know how happy I am now that they are available at my very own Sunday market. And, there good!


We did head over to the property for a while, I spent the first half hour or so resting in the car before being joined by William. The wind really picked upand we ended up heading back home by lunchtime. William watched Peter Pan (Disney classic), Craig worked, and I slept. The afternoon snooze was enough of a pick-me-up to get some chicken and potato wedges into the oven to roast for dinner with a yummy salad. Even William will now eat the some salad greens, it seems his favorite type of vegetable is that which is un-cooked (and even better is fresh picked from the garden).

We wound the evening down with a shower for William, Daddy was even so organised as to dry his hair.


The pile of clean washing still to be put away, it’ll keep.


The bookabag. We try to get to the library once a week, or fortnight and bring home about 14 books each visit. Reading stories before bed is a very important part of the evening routine, no matter how late it is.


Tonights toy of choice from the overflowing toy basket was Amigo. The story was “A New Home for a Pirate”.


Blissful bedtime and the end of the weekend and my Week in the life project.

Week in the Life – Day 06

The cat is curled up on my left, child sideways so he can stay in contact with both his parents, and daddy squished to the far right – all of them soundly sleeping as I lay in the rising light of the morning reading about flash fiction and scanning Facebook in bed. This is our start to the weekend.
In a few hours the boys will be off to an Atamai working bee and then the plan is to do more work on my little studio. This feels like the first weekend we’ve had in months. The promise of sunshine is the key.

When the boys finally wake, we have nursery rhymes in bed, mummy sticks to the classics, William creates stories of his own combination and daddy filks classics (generally involving moose).

Break in the working bee while Bob brings across the sheep to new grazing ground.


Morning sunshine with coffee and croissant in what will be our kitchen.




Snippets of time to read


William’s off to play with friends across the way while Craig works diligently on my studio:


It’s the little things that can bring us joy and make us smile:


Evening in bed playing with photos thus far for the project:

Day 06 screen grab

Week in the life – Day 05

William was a little unconvinced about returning to school after a week away, but as soon as we got inside and he saw the other kids about to start their morning activity he was off and into it.

Catching Stars


We headed home via the house site, bit of a treat to go up in the scissor lift whilst talking to my big sister and admiring the view.


Kilt shadows


The working morning begins


And more meetings


We returned to the house site at the end of the afternoon to be greeted with the last part of the main house frame – our lounge room. All the bones are complete. I just remembered a conversation from yesterday with William how I mentioned the frame was the houses bonesand he took it further with the windows would be the eyes, the door the mouth and when the wrap it with the paper, that will be the muscles and the wood on the outside will be the skin.



I’m so in love with this house.


A wonderful end to the day with salmon, mashed potatoes, salad and a glass of wine (for Craig at least)


That was our Friday.

Week in the Life – Day 04

Today is the big day, our house frame is going up!

There was no delay allowed this morning. Craig had us all out of bed and out the door to be on site by 8am! No time for breakfast even, he swung past the bakery and picked up plain croissants and coffee to be eaten in the car (I think he’s excited).


Yesterday the builders put together a part of the second story frame and gathered all the other jigsaw pieces ready for the arrival of the crane.


Craig got his hard hat and safety car, he was going to be a part of this build no matter what!


I observed all from the safety and comfort of the car (croissants, cuddles and a mocha to keep me happy).


At every stage of the build I took photos and updated my facebook page to keep our friends and family in the loop. My dad was pretty thrilled to be able to have a skype video chat and see some of the work as it progressed.


Safety chats and machine organisations came first:


But within minutes the first wall was being lifted into place:


William was in and out of the car most of the morning, interested in some stages but mostly off in his own creative world:


“There’s a house with a wall, with a wall, with a wall…”



Second story being lifted as once piece into place:



At one point today the crane driver noticed that William and the builders children (who had come to watch with raising with their mum) were struggling with the little digger. He took the time to grab some oil and get the machine into working order once more. My favorite people are those who take the time to help out kids, listen to their needs and not just disregard them.


Building sites have some fantastic things to play with:



Here comes the roof trusses:

We took lunch with the SantaBarbara’s before heading back down to our site and finding all the trusses neatly lined up.


The framing for the roof was lifted into place as well, savings a great deal of time and making things much safer for the builders who now don’t have to spend hours up in scaffolding with fiddly tools and bits of wood.


We did have a minor accident today, William misjudged how long his legs were and how high the trailer was and ended up in tears. He was so beside himself that he ended up vomiting all over himself which just added insult to injury really. Poor wee mite.

By early afternoon William and I were done and headed back home for a great deal of resting in front of the tv. Craig stayed on site with the builders till the frame was complete.


We ended the evening with chinese takeaway.

Favorite Moments:

Watching this house frame go up after so many years of waiting was the highlight of my year, and yes, I cried.

William to Craig when he came over to chat – “Daddy, get back there and build!”

William listening in on adults talking about him – “I’m not precious!”

Week in the Life – Day 03


Morning snuggles in bed.

Today was one of those days when you think things will be fine, but they end up spiraling down hill very very fast but then you are rescued and it’s ok.

Today I’m grateful for friends who come when you call them in tears because you’ve suddenly realised that you can’t manage this day alone after all. Also for play-doh that makes a great, easy distraction I can just manage to do to pass the time before help returns.




Backyardigans on the iPad while mummy lays down again


Lunch delivery


Me for the rest of the day


while Craig worked away from home and William disappeared to neighbours. At around 2pm I got an update that said he wouldn’t be coming home for dinner, he had other plans. So day that was too hard to manage resulted in one I didn’t have to manage. William returned in time for a story and bed and Craig returned to a dark and sleep filled house many hours later.

Favorite Moment:

Watching William try to brush my teeth with his little tongue moving from side to side and up and down as he concentrated on the task at hand.

Week in the Life – Day 02

Things are looking better for this weeks weather:

* Watching farmer Bob bring down the sheep from the top paddock with the help of his dog Tess.

* We rescued a bird from the fireplace before getting it going. William was very concerned about the bird and delighted when it finally flew free out the window – much too busy to take photos, pity. I had to smile later as Craig attempted to start the fire (after cleaning out all the soot the bird freed from the chimney)and William kept going on about Daddy meltingegg sand how he wished he wouldn’t do it – turns out Craig was using egg cartons to light the fire.


* That at least my new diagnosis may have a little relief attached to them, but they are still mostly untreatable and don’t change a great deal for me really.


* For glorious sunrises seen through cracks in the curtain at 6am

* Phone calls (on the drink bottle lid phone) from Ranger Juney calling Super Hedgehog and Cover Boy to action

* Good manners from my 4 year old, like “excuse me please Mummy”, “your welcome” and “may I please be excused from the table”

* Brownies and strawberry cheesecake for morning tea after doctors visits.


* Spontanious songs

* “I’m not William today, I’m hedgehog boy”

* “I never imagined I would ever own something like that.” Craig returning to our house, currently being assembled on site.

* The boys constructing a cereal ox space craft before bed

Favorite Moment:

* Watchng William and Little One play with a ring from the milk bottle over breakfast.

* Listening to William’s concern for the poor bird and joint family effort to get it first out of the fireplace where it had wedged itself and then away from a startled cat suddenly awoken by a crash on the window above his head and finally convincing it to fly outside to freedom.

* Lying in bed feeling exhausted with a small child, himself with a raging fever, singing nursery rhymes together and laughing through the worst.

The jigsaw puzzle that is our house frame:



Week in the life – Day 01

This week I’ve embarked on a “Week in the life” project. Eventually the words and photos will come together as a printed scrapbook, but for now I’m holding them here to keep them safe.

I really wanted to do this project this week, because it is the week our house frame is going to be put up. It’s been four years in the dreaming and planning. Four house site changes, only to return to the original site. Two completed house plans submitted to Council. An island move and three houses lived in.


Today begins the WitL project:


The weather forecast isn’t looking auspicious for the house buildand I’m nervous.


Our mourning started at 6am with conversations about random topics with William and Mummy while Daddy slept on, oblivious. When 7am ticked around it was all hands on deck and out of bed.


Lunchboxes had to be packed, people getting dressed and apparently my legs getting cut off
before we headed out the door by 8am for breakfast at the bakery. We usually do this little outing closer to the end of the week unless we need to be in town early, like today.

I had a round of blood tests to grit my teeth through, you do not know how relieved I was that my favorite vampire (otherwise known as a phlebotomist) was in.


This meant a quick and an only mildly painful draining before we headed off again to complete a few more errands before heading of to pre-school.

A quick trip past the house site to see the roof frame had been assembled reading for the end of the week.
We all settled into our usual Monday work. Craig spent a day in skype meeting after skype meeting while I ended took a mid-morning rest with an audio book of Enders Game. Lunch and more meetings saw the early afternoon disappear. A small indulgence of homemade lemon syrup cake for afternoon tea went down a treat


before we received a phone call to collect a sick little boy.

When we arrived at pre-school, William was happily laying down on the couch with a cold flannel on his forehead, grinning up at us. He may have had a 39 degree temperature,


but the attention made up for any other discomforts it would seem.


The rest of the afternoon with was spent with Mummy & William curled up in bed watching cartoons.

None of us was 100% today. Some of us were feeling overwhelmed and others generally sick. The overall feeling and need for today was a strong desire to be together in our little family, loving and supporting each other as best we could.

Grateful: Today I’m grateful for a caring husband and father who does his best to tend to us with a smile and over flowing love.

Craig was grateful that his wife was “happy sick” all day.

Favorite Moment: William telling us all about his ‘favorite thing’ today over dinner. It was learning about simple machines. How convenient that he happened to have watched Sid the Science Kid episode about just that very thing this afternoon AND played with them at pre-school this morning too… hmmmm