Plowshares Farm Center for Education and Spirituality is a private, non-profit organization founded by Bob and Sharon Ernst to provide educational programming and spiritual retreats on their farm. The Center was incorporated in the year 2000 and was granted exempt status in 2001. The idea germinated out of a desire to share the gift of the land and its life with others, highlighting the sacred nature of creation and our responsibility to care for it and for one another. Bob came to this work with a background in education and experience as a state park naturalist and a religious educator/youth minister. Sharon brings longtime experience as a nurse and a passion for hospitality. Plowshares has grown over the years and has provided encounters on the farm for groups from eleven surrounding counties as well as from Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Nicaragua.
Plowshares Farm is a small mixed farming operation on 79 acres of largely wooded hills and hollows in LaRue County, Kentucky. It has been in the Ernst family since 1989. We keep two jersey cows for milk along with their annual offspring for beef or replacement heifers. We tend a small flock of Cheviot sheep for lambs which we sell, on the hoof, for local custom processing. Twenty-five to forty laying hens provide eggs for consumption by our family and by program participants, and for sale, and we raise 200 meat chickens each year to feed our family and program participants as well as to sell as GMO-free USDA-inspected broilers. We also raise a wide variety of vegetables for family consumption, to serve program participants, and to sell at the local farmers' market.
Our farming practices are simple but profound. We produce healthy ethical food while honoring the ecological integrity of the land and the well-being of our local community as much as we possibly can. The beef and lamb we produce is grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free, and processed locally. Our broilers are pasture-raised from GMO-free chicks, fed non-GMO feed, and processed locally under USDA inspection. Although we are not certified organic, our gardening practices are guided by organic standards. We fertilize with compost cooked on the farm, rotate garden plots and plantings, and make use of cover crops and interplantings to increase soil fertility and tilth and to reduce erosion. Our farming is a simple but powerful participation in both the ecological web of life and the local human community.