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Hemmer Hill Farm of Crestwood, Kentucky

Kentucky Life explores Hemmer Hill Farm, meets a rare breed of sheep, and discovers the gourmet CSA offerings.

When Joyce and Gary Keibler purchased their 22-acre Hemmer Hill Farm in Crestwood, Kentucky, they didn’t intend to become working farmers. In fact, they intended to enjoy the open space for their retirement. Instead, they’ve found a niche in local agriculture that keeps them busy throughout the year.

The farm was originally set up to be a horse farm, but now the barns and paddocks are home to a rare breed of sheep called St. Croix. The Livestock Conservancy lists the St. Croix breed as “threatened,” with fewer than 5,000 registered animals around the world and fewer than 1,000 new annual registrations in the U.S.

“The St. Croix are a very docile breed of sheep,” says Joyce Keibler. “They’re one of the only breeds in North America that are totally parasite-resistant.”

The Keiblers are working with Swiss Village Farm Foundation of Newport, Rhode Island, to help preserve this unique breed.

“St. Croix is a quality, rare breed that has this wonderful parasite resistance that universities all over the U.S. have not been able to duplicate by breeding a St. Croix ram to another breed of ewe,” Joyce explains. “St. Croix is a good, lean meat with low fat and high protein. Each breed has their own qualities and I think it’s nice for us as humans to be able to choose our food types.”

In addition to sheep, Hemmer Hill Farm grows a variety of vegetables for its community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. CSA customers buy in to the program in the spring and get 22 weeks of vegetables ranging from traditional tomatoes, corn, cucumbers and green beans to more specialized items like edamame, arugula, mushrooms and garlic.

“In the CSA, the customers who live in the urban areas help support the farmer early on,” says Keibler. “You have some money to work with for seeds, plants. And then the customer also buys in to the farmer’s lifestyle.”

This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2002 which originally aired on October 11, 2014. View the full episode here.