by Mary Ruth
Pleasant Hill Community Church (PHCC) gathered together 16 senior adults for a ‘Field Trip’ to Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas, March 11-14, 2019. Heifer International (www.heifer.org), for 75 years, has been ending hunger and poverty while caring for the earth in many countries around the world. In 1971 Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas, was purchased to accept 2,000 Angus cattle and became a livestock holding facility and then evolved into an educational center with the construction of a Global Village in 1988. Heifer Ranch hosts thousands of visitors each year for day or overnight group educational programs, raises livestock, manages pastures, grows produce for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) gardens, runs workshops for local farmers and offers apprenticeship programs.
This 2019 trip was planned and facilitated by PHCC members Mary and Bill Ruth who have been residential volunteers several times since 2005 at the 1200 acre ranch. The travel (500-mile drive) from Pleasant Hill TN and other logistics in 2019 were handled by PHCC members Lyle and Sharon Weible who in 2004 volunteered at the Ranch. In 2013, a similar trip was undertaken by PHCC (led by former ranch volunteer Jeanne Chappell Kingsbury) and 19 PHCC members made that trip; thus, ‘word of mouth’ called for a repeat and interestingly, of the 2019 group only 3 had before been to the ranch. The 2019 group actually numbered 19 because ranch volunteers Mary, Bill and Linda added in to the 16 who traveled.
Pleasant Hill’s 4-day visit included a Heifer USA welcome session about Arkansas farming, 3 overnights in ranch lodging, a program on “Heifer Ranch, Scaling Up! Growing Food, Farmers and Community”, 7 meals of ranch raised food in the dining hall, a ranch overview welcome and Global Village guided walking tour, talks on Goat Milking, Soap Making, and CSA Gardening, a Ranch Hay Wagon guided tour, Heifer DVD viewings, and a session on Heifer’s past accomplishments, its current challenges, and the future of Heifer Accelerate! One day the group went to Little Rock for tours of Heifer World Headquarters LEED Platinum building and Heifer Village including Urban Farming. While in Little Rock some toured the Clinton Presidential Library, Central High School Visitor Center, Mosaic Templars Building, MacArthur Park, and more.
Heifer International is particularly well known for its very successful “Pass on the Gift” program whereby small scale farmers receive a heifer, goat or pig etc and the first female offspring goes to another community member. And ‘the most important gift catalog in the world’ from Heifer gives donors opportunities to buy a sheep or duck etc as an ‘alternative’ gift.