Health reasons motivate student to cultivate lifestyle on farm

March 18, 2013

Samantha Morley
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Some students choose to reside in on-campus dorms. Others opt for shared apartments or live with their parents. Lena Macias, however, chose to purchase a five-acre farm and cultivate her life in a different way.

Macias earned a bachelor’s in geography and environmental studies and is currently working on obtaining a master’s in nutrition.

Macias was motivated to start a farm for health reasons. She was overweight and began examining food labels for their food content.

“[I wanted to] lose weight and feel healthy. I feel so much better by eating whole foods,” she said. “When we got the opportunity to buy this little log cabin in Black Forest, we just jumped on it.”

She has since lost more than 100 pounds.

Macias and her husband, a postal worker, run Black Forest Farmstead together. They have been farming for three years.

The couple raises Heritage large black hogs, which are on the endangered livestock list, chickens and goats. Some chickens, laying hens, produce eggs. Macias has raised both varieties, but explained her experience with meat hens.

Meat hens are slaughtered at 10 to 12 weeks when they have eaten enough grass and are mature. “We slaughter them on-site,” Macias said. “I didn’t have a chicken plucker, so we did them by hand. We hung them on the clothes line.”

Macias struggled in the beginning of her farming days. She recounted a time when she had a large quantity of chickens.

The animals were roosting, and she altered their environment. The chickens piled into a corner of the coop, and many of them died.

Since then, Macias has educated herself and learned how to better raise the livestock. Because of this, her products have grown in popularity at local markets. Black Forest Farmstead sells products at the Colorado Farm and Art Market.

“I bring eggs and by the time I sit down, my eggs are sold,” she said. “I usually sell out within 10 to 15 minutes.”

Macias does not wish to expand her farm. “That’s not what it’s going to take to undo all these confinement operations and really bring down that model. It’s going to take for me to have my five acres and do something; it’s going to take for you to have five acres to do something.”

Aside from her farm and school, Macias is also a nutritionist at Vitamin Cottage. On average, she dedicates about 30 hours per week to farming and 30 hours per week to Vitamin Cottage.

Macias also hosts seminars and attends local initiatives that promote sustainable farming, such as the Feb.25 “American Meat” showing at Berger Hall.

Macias stressed the importance of having more farmers. “It doesn’t matter if I have 10 acres or if I have my five acres and then I buy another 45 acres. It’s better to have 20 new farmers on those acres. That’s getting people back to the land.”

She added, “I can do quite a bit of damage with five acres.”