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Harvey Harman
Harvey Harman

Harvey Harman and his family live on Sustenance Farm in Bear Creek, ten miles south of Pittsboro. He describes the farm as "non-petroleum based . . . people-sustained and also eco/socio/economically sustainable." Vegetables, fruits, herbs, poultry, and other animals form an integrated ecosystem based on Permaculture design principals. Plants and animals are valued for multiple uses, thus the diversity of the farm aids in making the entire system mostly self-supporting.

The successful operation of the farm depends on the internship program, now in its tenth year. Interns live in cabins on the land and are seen by Harvey as members of the Sustenance community, sharing in meals and conversation time, as well as the workings of the farm. He values and incorporates the individual skills and specialties of each intern, many of whom come from other countries, and expects to learn from them as well as teach them.

Harvey and his family lived in southern Africa for five years, and much of his low-tech farming practices come from this experience. All the farm's growing beds were built with only hand tools and the farm also has extensive water systems. He often illustrates the interdependence of human labor and a healthy ecosystem with a story. Harvey tells of a man he met who wanted a pond and so moved twenty baskets of earth a day for seven years until he had built his pond. Once it was built, the man was so impressed with the benefits that he began the process again. Harvey says he has always been inspired by this way of thinking; it values human labor, poly-culture, and transferable knowledge.

Harvey is passionate about passing on knowledge. In addition to the internship program, the farm provides a site for workshops, tours, youth programs, an extensive library and other local resources. He was involved in developing the Sustainable Farming program at Central Carolina Community College, and he continues to teach there. Harvey also works on local projects involving conservation, alternative energy options, resource-saving housing, and ecological land development.

—Tes Thraves, 2003


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