What does an upscale spa at prestigious Amelia Island Plantation have in common with a small organic farm on the rural west end of Nassau County, Florida?
They were designed by the same Feng Shui enthusiasts.
NaVera Farms is the creation of Bill Di Stanisola and Greg Ferguson - along with a Feng Shui expert Bill worked with in his former life as director of the resort spa some 40 minutes east of his farm.
NaVera Farms Owner Bill Di Stanisola visits with his cow Gracie. / All photos courtesy of NaVera Farms
“Feng Shui has been a part of my life for many years,” says Bill. “While serving as spa director at The Plantation I came in contact with a wonderful Feng Shui expert named Margaret Newton. She heard about our holistic commitment at that time and, let’s just say, we spoke the same language!”
Feng Shui, or rather, The Art of Placement, is a complex methodology that uses common sense and spiritual directions to establish a more balanced and successful personal and business life. It is said to improve health, happiness and most importantly restores harmony.
Stewards of the farm
The men were so determined to establish a Feng Shui farm, in fact, that they consulted Margaret before even purchasing the property in 2010.
“We left the decision totally up to Margaret. After her analysis she said, ‘Buy it’ and we did,” Bill says. “We believe that NaVera Farms is the only holistic farm in the country that utilizes Feng Shui in building locations, gardens, animal housing, and all residential living on site.”
Today NaVera Farms is an environmentally-friendly educational farm that has taught hundreds of children and adults about running a small farm with a holistic respect for the land, the animals, and the environment.
Bill and Greg do not consider themselves “owners” of a farm, but rather “stewards” for their farm and animals, working hand-in-hand (or perhaps hand-in-hoof) to create a life filled with balance and harmony.
NaVera is home to a variety of plants and animals, each maintained with the strictest of standards of environmental concern and animal welfare. From the raised herb and vegetable beds to the flower gardens and new greenhouse, all plant life is grown using organic methods and sustainable practices. The barns are impeccably cleaned on a daily basis. Their custom organic feed is guarded by the barn cats, which seem to watch over the goat families from their perches atop the fence rails. And if you listen closely, you’ll hear classical musical playing in the big, red barn: music therapy is also part of the NaVera environment.
The farm’s organic pasture-raised hens live on a diet of organic feed, soy-free and corn-free live grains, pure artesian water, herbal preventions and holistic care. There is an Incubation and Hatching program that ensures new chicks are born each season. There is even an assistive living quarters and senior housing for those who retire from laying eggs.
The farm is home to over 200 animals. In addition to the goats and hens, there are ducks, dairy cows, donkeys, horses, pigs, alpacas, a llama and a goose.
Most of the animals are either rescued or adopted by Bill and Greg from other farms and individuals who were not able to care for them due to financial constraints, relocation or - unfortunately - neglect or abandonment.
“This is one of the main reasons we wanted to become an educational farm,” says Bill. “We’ve seen how animals suffer from neglect, and most of the neglect is due to a person not being educated on how to properly raise a farm animal.
“Often people have the best intentions, but they can’t follow through. Animals need the same care as humans – good food, clean water, sanitary living conditions, fresh air, exercise, and lots of love and attention. That’s what we provide here at NaVera Farms.”
The educational component of the farm, provided through NaVera’s Farm Life Foundation, includes farm stays, campouts and tours. Each can be customized for various ages and activities.
In order to maintain the environment they have so carefully cultivated, Bill and Greg have specific guidelines for anyone visiting the farm.
They advise against wearing perfume, and no Wi-Fi devices or cell phones are allowed to be used in the farm area or residence.
“Animals, plants and humans are extremely sensitive to electro-magnetic fields,” says Bill. “These devices disrupt their natural rhythm.”
Like-minded businesses have taken notice of NaVera’s high standards. Native Sun Natural Foods Market, a popular health store with three locations in Jacksonville, purchases goat and cow milk from the farm. It also exclusively purchases the farm’s eggs from varieties of hens including Red Star, Rhode Island Red, Americana, Andalusian, Minorca, and other varieties of hens. Native Sun also sponsors events and tours at the farm.
NaVera Farms also says it's Northeast Florida's leading organic, raw, soy-free, non-GMO feed distributor.
Next, they are starting a fodder program, where they are growing their own fodder of organic barley seed that can be sprouted in just seven days in their greenhouse. It can then be consumed by all the animals on the property.
“We’re excited about this project,” says Bill. “We may be able to cut our hay cost by 50 percent, making the farm even more sustainable. And this sprouted barley is very nutritional for our animals.”
If you want to go:
Where: 46480 Sauls Road, Callahan, FL 32011