The catalyst for making a major lifestyle change often comes from a milestone such as a significant birthday, having children, or even a tragedy. My catalyst was actually a bit of all three. The year I entered my thirties, my husband and I lost one of our closest friends to cancer. My sadness and confusion in losing someone so young and so important to us was hard to handle. I needed to feel a sense of control over what was happening in my life and to try to create something positive out of the emotions.
I began to research and learn as much as I could about preventing cancer. Not that our friend had any hand in the fate that was given to him. I have to accept that sometimes horrible things happen to good people, but his death made me want to become more informed and proactive with my health.
Could the chemicals that have been added to food and products in order to make them quicker, cheaper, and last longer be detrimental to our health? Examples that come to mind are growth hormones to make cows produce more and grow larger ... chemicals in the paint we use on our walls to make it dry quicker or cost less ... chemicals put in certain foods that "taste like" cheese or make it fun colors like lime green or bright blue ... the list continues. The answer that I have found to this question is yes.
With one-year-old twins that were just beginning to drink store-bought milk and eat the same foods as us and putting everything they could get their hands on into their mouths, I started reading and learning as much as I could about how our environments and food choices affect our health.
I won't spout statistics or claim to have all the answers, but in my home I decided to prepare and purchase real food, organic whenever possible, for my family and to be conscious of reducing the amount of chemicals that my family consumed or breathed. Now we aren't always perfect (I cringe as I think back to this very morning where I let my four-year-old eat a certain drive-through breakfast), but I try very hard.
That decision then guided the choices we wanted to make when it came time to building a new home. I was amazed at the progress and options the building industry offered in terms of building a healthy and non-toxic home. We were not re-inventing the wheel. People were catching onto these ideas. I soon found that not only could we build a home with cleaner air and healthier products, but we could also save energy and money and help the planet too in building in an eco-friendly manner.
Excited with my new information and wanting to learn more and do more with it, my entrepreneurial side took over. I soon contacted a friend and local developer, Will Harris, to pitch him my idea.
I felt like everything was meant to be as he was immediately receptive and excited about my thoughts on building Kentucky's first eco-friendly subdivision and understood my passion about living a healthier lifestyle. Our wheels began to turn, plans began to shape, and months later we are on our way. A husband, father, and entrepreneur himself, he was eager to learn more and to offer a community like no other in our area. We feel that old building methods will soon be a thing of the past as consumers learn how efficient and less toxic their homes can be.
The development, Magnolia Farms, will offer an Idea House (which will be my personal home) with the latest and greatest in energy-efficient and non-toxic options and will be a place for people to see firsthand how beautiful and inexpensive green can be. The fifty lot development will have three large lakes for irrigation, aesthetics and recreation. A large pavilion will anchor the space between the one acre organic garden that will offer weekly pick-ups for residents and the recycling and compost center. The common space will host neighborhood parties and educational events to promote a sense of community and to teach others about topics such as growing their own food or cooking with fresh produce. Residents can walk, bike or ride their golf carts on the eight-foot trails that will encompass the development. All homes built in the subdivision will have to be rated as Energy-Star Homes.
And so it begins. We are in the research phase of the concept as we wait for the road infrastructure to be ready for us to break ground. My house plans have been drawn, and we are diving into choosing subcontractors, vendors and green partners. A preliminary plat is complete of the subdivision. Pricing and restrictions are in the works. Interest in our project is growing, and we are hearing rave reviews on our concept. I'm sure we'll hit some road blocks along the way ... may ruffle some feathers or hit some dissension ... but the idea is a good one, and our intentions are set. I will be happy to share the ups and downs on this journey. As I look back on how it all began, the blueprints that lie in front of me today and my and Will's synergy and progress with our vision, I feel like the road to this change is wide open.
Kelly Emerine is the marketing director for Magnolia Farms in Elizabethtown, Ky. Magnolia Farms will be the first eco-friendly development of it's kind in Kentucky. With nine years of experience working in new construction and real estate, she is excited to combine her passion for homes with her interest in non-toxic, eco-friendly living. Kelly graduated from the University of Kentucky and is a proud mother of twin girls, wife, business owner and entrepreneur.