The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Thursday 15th of July, 2010 at MeadowGate Farm and the home of Patti and A. J. Acheson in Woodbury. Hosting the meeting were Patti and Ellen McEwen.
Club members were first treated to a tour of the Acheson home that Patti and her husband A. J., a retired Delta pilot, began building in 1996. The “new old home” was designed by Patti, and she and A.J. lived in a camper the four years they built it together. The architecture and every detail is early American down to the tongue and groove wide pine boards and simple and elegant furniture made by A. J. or collected and refinished by Patti.
The tour began with the “keeping room” where ladies kept company while they did farm chores. The Achesons built a true cooking fireplace that spans one wall complete with a Dutch oven. A screen door at the pantry opening allows guests to peek into a wooden shelf lines room stored with crockery, canned goods, and cooking utensils. Patti mills several types of wheat and grains and bakes her own bread for a healthy diet.
The kitchen cabinetry that A.J. built is made to look like the individual pieces that a Colonial farmhouse would have had. The wide pine floors are from a 1850s warehouse and the large exposed beams were milled from the oaks Hurricane Opal knocked over on their property.
Patti sews and quilts and her window treatments and hanging quilts were not only lovely but contained sentimental records and family items. Her sewing and crafting room was one of the largest rooms in the home and was fully appointed. The club agreed the Acheson home should be featured in Southern Living and that its beauty and attention to architectural details surpass many of the homes featured in house magazines.
A.J. Acheson brought the group together to define Agritourism and began by pointing out the Cotton Pickin’ Fair and Carroll Farms Peachers are forms of agritourism as are the spate of new vineyards and wineries and home grown/homemade markets. Agritourism brings people to the farm setting to help the small farmer-a dwindling enterprise today. Acheson said it is important for today’s child to know where eggs come from and to see sheep, goats, pigs, and cows in their habitat and to see a working farm.
MeadowGate Farm is opening this September to school groups and parties to offer this kind of education. In addition to the many animals, they have the old fashioned corn grinder, a corn maze and will offer hay rides and bonfires plus a country store.
The Achesons have five grandchildren who would live on the farm full time if they could. They love to get away from the TV and computer to enjoy farm life and to see the baby pigs or rabbits being born, collecting eggs, or shearing the sheep. The Achesons even have a three story playground for the pygmy goats to climb. Worm composting and raising corn are part the educational lesson plans, Patti says, as she points out the first thing planted by settlers was corn and it was and is used in feed, eaten, used for bedding, stuffed into pillows, corn cobs used in pipes, in stoves and at the outhouse (!), plus corn husks brooms for cleaning. The zillion uses of the corn itself seem limitless as it is used in adhesive, aluminum, antibiotics, aspirin, cylinder heads, ink, insect repellant, instant coffee, paint, leather tanning, firecrackers, dyes, cosmetics and much more.
After touring the barn area, the club members enjoyed touring Patti’s raised bed vegetable garden and then walked over to her herb garden located right outside her kitchen and keeping room for convenient use. The club finished with a treat of a delicious slushy cold punch and refreshments. The August meeting will be a tour of the Southern Living home in Senoia and lunch at Founders.