Simple life brings Lexington woman peace

Saturday, January 29th 2005, 3:15 pm
By: News On 6

LEXINGTON, Okla. (AP) _ It may span only five acres, but big things are happening at Earth Elements Farm, the brainchild of Lexington resident April Harrington.

In 1998, ovarian cancer and the life lessons gained from her experiences in Seattle forced Harrington to slow down and rethink her future.

``That's really when I learned there is more to life than working for someone else,'' Harrington said. ``I wanted a simpler life, not based on something monetary, but something more meaningful.''

She purchased the land on Pecan Tree Circle off State Highway 77 sight-unseen and since has turned her small farming operation with big ideas into a flourishing natural body care business and organic bakery.

For the past year, with the help of a few friends and an intern, Harrington has added onto her commercial kitchen in the hopes of expanding her business further. The construction itself is something of interest _ the walls were constructed entirely of straw bales and clay from her backyard.

``We have to dig the clay out of the side of the hill and then we sift it,'' she said. ``Then it's mixed in a cement mixer and, literally, applied with your hands.''

At the farm, plants are grown year-round with the help of greenhouse-mimicking ``hoop houses,'' but by far Harrington's busiest season is summer.

She tends bees, holds a variety of workshops for children and adults including soap-making, canning and jelly making and grows row upon row of basil and other herbs and lettuces. Last summer, she said she was able to grow nearly all of her own food in addition to the plants that are turned into natural pesto, salves, natural deodorants and balms.

It's not always been easy running the farm, but Harrington said her experiences have allowed her both to make a modest living through organic means and realize her dream of ecologically friendly farming and building practices.

All of the buildings on her property, including a sizable shed, were made with recycled materials - something Harrington takes great pride in.

``My goal is to be as self-sustainable as I can,'' she said. ``There's been a lot of talk about going off the (electrical) grid with the neighbors ``

In recent months, Harrington began purchasing adjacent lots to the farm with the long-term goal of developing a ``true community of like-minded people.''

``There are a number of individuals who have expressed interest in continuing to use alternative energy, so that's something we are totally interested in making happen here,'' Harrington said. ``I guess the long-term goal is to really work together _ to be able to produce enough food that we need, to grow everything in our own community, but all be able to live in our own separate houses.''

Harrington's products, including her baked specialty breads, cookies, pesto and natural care products of balms, salves, tooth powder and other items are available at Earth Natural Foods & Deli, 309 N. Flood Ave., Norman, and the OSU/OKC Farmers' Market at 400 S. Portland in Oklahoma City.