Stoney Creek Farm is located on fifteen beautiful, rolling acres in Franklin, Tennessee. Farmers Olin and Leigh Funderburk left the corporate world in the 2010s to pursue their dream of living simply and sustainably and of teaching others how to do the same. While Stoney Creek does produce food for the area– they are proud to be “Pick Tennessee” members– Olin and Leigh Funderburk’s main focus is on educating the community to grow food using regenerative practices.
From online and in-person classes to an active Youtube channel, the Funderburks work hard to empower would-be farmers and gardeners to produce food in a way that improves the land and water. Stoney Creek Farm hosts popular summer camps and a preschool, where children are connected to how food is produced and taught a love of the natural world. The farm also supplies raised garden beds that are available for the public to rent during the growing season. Stoney Creek Farm hosts a Sustainable Farm Conference in the fall and has even written a book: Dirt Rich: How to Experience More Joy and Less Stress Through Sustainable Farm Living.
Stoney Creek Farm gets its name from the Harpeth River tributary that runs through their property. The farmers take care of their creek by keeping growing areas away from it, never using pesticides or herbicides, and using cover crops in between vegetable rotations. Permanent grasses and plenty of space for farm animals are other laudable practices the Funderburks embrace and teach.
River Friendly Farm Certified
In 2023, Stoney Creek Farm was certified as a River Friendly Farm by the Cumberland River Compact.
“We are concerned about the environmental impacts of farming on waterways, which is why we are an all-natural, pesticide-free farm. Our Children’s Program Director, Cori Williams, told us about the River Friendly Farms certification, and we wanted to apply to have our values recognized,” says Leigh Funderburk.
The River Friendly Farm certification program with Cumberland River Compact recognizes farmers who are good stewards of water and land resources, connecting them with consumers who value a healthy environment. As a River Friendly Farm, Stoney Creek Farm ensures cleaner water, healthier soil, and a more resilient climate for the people and creatures living in the surrounding environment.
Stoney Creek Farm is proud to avoid the use of any and all pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, even ones approved for use on organic farms. Instead, they opt for well-composted cow manure and compost tea or comfrey tea foliar spray to keep their plants healthy and strong. Composted manure is never applied within one hundred feet of the creek or wellhead, and it is only used in the active growing season on an as-needed basis.
The Cumberland River Compact appreciates the Funderburk’s use of compost and comfrey tea foliar sprays, as this is a gentle method to supply plants with the nutrients they need. It avoids phosphorus and nitrogen runoff that can occur with direct application of nutrients, which too often end up in our waterways, causing algae blooms and aquatic die-off.
Never heard of compost or comfrey tea? It’s just what it sounds like! Compost or comfrey tea is compost or comfrey leaves steeped in aerated water over a 12 to 48-hour period. The beneficial bacteria and nutrients are extracted into the water, and the tea is sprayed onto the leaves of the plant, where the nutrients and healthy bacteria are readily absorbed.
In addition to their adherence to “beyond organic” practices, the Funderburks keep a buffer around their creek rather than mowing to its edges. The roots of the buffer plants keep the soil around the creek intact, which reduces sediment in the creek. Sediment chokes out aquatic life and is one of the largest sources of pollution in the Cumberland River Basin, so a simple riparian buffer like the one the Funderburks maintain is key to the health of the creek and the Harpeth River.
How to Support the Farm
Stoney Creek Farm is excited to share their knowledge of regenerative farming and river-friendly practices. The best way to support their good work is by learning from them!
Summer farm camps for kids and a native gardening class are on tap this summer. Read up on drip irrigation and rainwater collection on their blog. Or get your hands dirty with a garden plot rental; mentoring and other learning resources are available to help you grow.
The Funderburks are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to regenerative agriculture, and we encourage you to seek them out!