Jeff and Julie Davidson had no sooner settled into their forever home when Julie announced that she wanted to live on a farm. Moreover, she wanted to use it as a place to teach children about living off the land.
“When we eat at home, we eat healthier food,” Julie Davidson said. “I felt like teaching my own kids about reading labels and being more aware about food was not enough.”
The couple’s children are adults now, but Jeff and Julie are guardians for their two young grandchildren while their daughter, a single mother, is deployed.
“He was a good sport,” Julie said of her husband, once she convinced him she was serious about a life change.
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Jeff quit his job in pharmaceutical research, and the Davidsons traded their spacious house for an 800-square-foot garage apartment at the recreation center they built on 11 acres in Holly Springs.
In July, they opened Changing Tomorrow Farm and began offering track-out and summer camps as well as after-school care for children ages 5 to 12. The farm is also available for birthday parties.
Resident animals range from an alpaca to a 14-hand horse whose father was once owned by Burt Reynolds. Bees are a recent addition. Inside are hedgehogs, guinea pigs and a python. Everyone is expected to help with the farm chores.
“This is not just a petting zoo,” Julie said. “We teach the kids about diseases, and they participate in the animals’ care,” she said.
“The goal is to teach kids to be more aware,” Julie said. “They come here and get worn out.”
Instead of devices, campers play outside. There is a creek perfect for nature hikes and plenty of space for exploring. Lessons are integrated into play, and at the end of the week, a “Jeopardy!” style game tests the children on what they’ve learned.
Organic meals are catered, and children make their own healthy snacks as well as the occasional treats for the animals. On a field trip to a local winery, campers learned about growing grapes, picked their own and brought them back to the farm where they made their own jam.
Gardening plays an important role, and the farm soon will have its own greenhouse.
“We want to grow our own food and vegetables as much as possible,” Julie said.
On a recent afternoon, as one group of campers splashed in the in-ground pool under the watchful eye of Jeff, a peacock strutted nearby. Across the yard, a miniature pony led a horse and several goats on a run around the barn.
Changing Tomorrow Farm’s name grew out of a desire to change the attitudes of children.
“It’s frustrating to me that bees are dying and food contains so many chemicals,” Julie said. “It’s hard to change adults’ minds, but if we teach the kids they can grow up and change tomorrow.
“If we reach enough kids every year, one or two might do something for the environment.”
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About Changing Tomorrow Farm
Location: 6312 Cass Holt Road, Holly Springs
Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Friday; Parent’s Night Out held once a month