One of our goals on the farm is that everything has a purpose. The chickens give us eggs, the pigs eat our compost, the dogs guard all the livestock, etc. For a while we’ve been looking into fiber, and how to get kids involved in learning here on the farm. So, Luther Glen has some new additions: Alpacas! These four beautiful creatures will provide quality fiber for us to wash, spin, dye and create with.
What are Alpacas?
Alpacas are a Camelid, just like llamas and camels. This means they are even-toed. There are two varieties of alpacas Huacaya (wah-KI’-ya) and Suri (“surrey”). The more common variety and the type we have are Huacaya. These have a fluffy teddy bear appearance and their fiber is crimped similar to that of sheep wool. Alpacas are ruminants and can live up to 20 years. They do not have upper teeth, but instead have a hard upper pallet. There are twenty-two natural colors that their fiber comes in and we have four of those colors represented at Luther Glen. It is said when alpacas are content they hum, and our four ladies have been humming quite a bit! Below are their photos and if you scroll over the picture their name will pop up!
Glorianna, Dark Brown
Laura Bell, White
Sweetheart, Medium Fawn
The purpose of Alpacas at Luther Glen is to produce fiber and to be able to showcase animals many people haven’t seen in person. We will shear our fluffy friends once a year in the Spring. Unlike sheep wool, Alpaca fiber does not contain lanolin, making them naturally hypoallergenic. Their crimped fiber when made into yarn becomes naturally elastic, perfect for knitting. For the last five years Luther Glen has hosted a finish your project knitting/crocheting retreat. Making beautiful creations with these lovely people caused us to want to become more involved in the process. So hopefully by next year’s retreat we will have our own yarn to sell. The fiber can also be felted into bowls, coasters, earrings, the possibilities are endless! It will be a slow and exciting process to learn all we need to about processing the fiber, but we can’t wait! To produce yarn or felted pieces from our own animals will be worth it.
Eating the rainbow. No, this does not mean to just eat skittles, it involves eating a variety of fruits and vegetables so as to receive a variety of minerals and nutrients. Adding color to our diets allows us to fill up on vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, protein, fiber and antioxidants without excess saturated fat, sodium or any added sugars. The variety allows our bodies to fill up without being weighed down. And according to the American Heart Association “A healthy eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower your risk of many serious and chronic health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease, osteoporosis and some types of cancer.”
In addition, all of that variety adds color and many chefs agree that you eat with your eyes first. So add some color to your plate! Because if nothing else it looks pretty. Here are some pictures of what our campers and retreat guests are eating at Luther Glen these days. It is amazing to see all the color this season!
Burgundy Bush Beans
Rosie Basil flowers
Baby Mesclun Leaves
Rainbow chard, Red Russian Kale and Bangles Blend sweet peppers
Oak Glen, the city where Luther Glen is located, is in apple country. The climate here with the 500 hours of freeze in winter and the warm, but not terribly hot summers allows for flavorful and crisp apples. Apple season begins in September and continues through November. During most of apple season the little shops and adorable orchards around us are busy with tourists and families making a day of picking apples. Our normally quiet mountain becomes filled with cars and traffic and people. We’re not complaining, we are all about people connecting with food even if it is only once a year in an orchard.
Our market is a little different though. We have guests, churches and retreat groups that come up in fall not for apples necessarily, but to retreat in nature and focus on God and community. But because we have a farm and orchard we are able to offer our guests seasonal and fresh fruits and veggies. This unique opportunity at Luther Glen of being able to connect with food, allows people to harvest and eat delicious and incredibly fresh produce. This is a beautiful enactment of one of our goals here on the farm; to connect good food and good people.
The Barn: This summer after meetings with the county, site assessments from civil engineers and lots of checks coming in from faithful donors the Barn is on its way up! We could not be more excited! Its been magical to see the holes be dug, posts be set, concrete poured, framing secured and finally the walls! Our contractors have been working hard and for that we are so grateful! Don’t worry we’ve been fueling them lots of garden veggies!
The Babies: 4 mamas gave birth to 8 babies this summer. Esther: 3, Laura Beth: 2, Regina: 2, Naomi: 1. These babies have brought so much joy to campers, staff, retreat guests and church members. Don’t forget we can bring animals to your church! Last week after weaning them we were sad to send some of the males to new homes, but happy that they will be well cared for. It’s easy to keep lots of babies around but babies get bigger and unfortunately we can’t milk the males so they go to other loving farms. We have kept 3 of the babies though, so come by and visit these kids anytime!
Erika, one of our summer Farm Interns with Peanut and Nugget.
The Garden: Faithfully productive. Steady amounts of cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, melons, berries, kale, chard and pumpkins are being harvested daily. Filling up retreat guests and staff and allowing us a surplus to sell at churches and donate to CCLM. Transplants and successions of lettuce medleys and spinach have gone into the ground and more have been seeded into the greenhouse. Mid-September also brings apples, but we’ll post more about that soon.
Farm fresh veggies at Emmanuel Lutheran in La Habra
Jenna one of our summer Farm interns
The Blog: The blog will continue, with monthly postings! We love sharing with you all our growth, trials, and joys! We’re trying to find a rhythm of posting that will match the busyness of farming and running a camp. Thanks for sticking with us on this journey!
In what seems like the blink of an eye, summer is coming to a quick close. The onsite programs and come Friday when our Day Camps finish, it all gets a little bit more quiet. Friday is the end of another season here at Luther Glen. Maybe not by the calendar records, but by ours, certainly. So much of what we plan for is our summer camp season. But it’s important to note that it doesn’t end there.
After summer we keep going strong. Sure, we have less staff onsite. There are less campfires and silly songs, but the mission of the ministry continues. So if you feel like you can’t wait until next summer to come back – DON’T WAIT! Schools can schedule weeks of Outdoor School at the farm, or schedule the farm to come to them. Churches can make arrangements to have animals visit their congregations. Retreats run year-round. Winter Camps are somehow right around the corner!
We have a lot of new life on the farm, quite literally, with all the summer births. We can’t wait to see where it takes us.
For more information about scheduling Outdoor School, church visits, or retreats contact: Office@LRCChome.com
We’ll be taking a short end of the season break from the blog, so you won’t be hearing from us until after Labor Day. But don’t worry, we’re still here, preparing for next season.
It’s summer and that means it’s goat birthing season at Luther Glen! Last Friday Laura Beth gave birth to two beautiful babies – Grace and Joshua. It has been a joy to witness new birth and to share that experience with the campers at Luther Glen. Today Regina gave birth to twin boys and we couldn’t be more thrilled! Stay tuned for more photos and updates on these new additions to the farm!
There is an Indigenous practice of growing corn, beans and squash in the same bed as a form of companion planting. This inter-planting allows each to thrive and support each other similar to three inseparable sisters.
There are many variations of the three sisters garden, and this is what it looks like at the Luther Glen Garden. We have non-GMO corn, the first of the sisters planted growing tall and strong. We have sugar snap peas planted right next to the corn that vine up the corn, using the stalk as a trellis. The peas are a legume that fix nitrogen, meaning they take nitrogen from the air and bring it down to their roots allowing the other sisters to absorb it from the soil. Finally, we have pumpkins that like to sprawl and cover the soil around the corn and peas. The pumpkin plant acts as a living mulch, covering the soil and reducing evapotranspiration (water loss from soil to atmosphere), while also suppressing weeds. The prickly nature of the squash vines keep critters away who might normally nibble on the fruits of the others.
This practice is applicable to our lives as well! We each have different gifts and when we work together we can support, uplift, and allow each other to thrive.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”