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Spencer Acres: 2020-Present 

HISTORY

The Covid 19 Lockdown led to the temporary relocation of the mobile Wild Seed Field Museum to Spencer Acres, the Hemeyer family farm in Ralls County , Missouri. This presented a unique opportunity to explore family history while establishing a location for ongoing research.

 

The land is mixed-use including 200 acres of woods, fields, gardens, an orchard, and a wetlands restoration project. Land highlights include Spencer Creek watershed, a tributary to the Salt River. An Oak/Hickory Forest with several old-growth trees, rare plants including bloodroot and mayflower, and fields of prairie flowers managed for the MDC wetlands restoration project. Spencer Acres has been in the Hemeyer family for 4 generations beginning with great-uncle Harry Sykes in the early 1900s. Harry bought the farm with money he earned as a rail riding stone mason during the Great Depression. It was later purchased by great-grandma Ruby (Sykes) Richards, who worked as nurse in Hannibal and bought the farm later in life.

 

A significant portion of the Sykes family history in Ralls County is recorded in the book "Insane Sisters: Or the Price Paid for Challenging a Company Town" by Gregg Andrews, Professor Emeritus of History at Texas State University. The book features the story of Harry and Ruby's aunts Euphemia Koller and Mary Alice (Molly) Heinbach who fought the longest running court battle in Missouri History where women represented themselves. The sisters took on the Atlas Portland Cement Company in a 17-year court battle over a land tract in Illasco that Molly inherited from her late husband, Sam Heinbach. In addition to the book, a play was produced about their lives. The sisters were raised on a farm a mile away with their brother Ruby's dad, Henry Sykes. Both sets of Ruby's grandparents lived the area and are buried nearby

INQUIRY 

An Inquiry Assessment was conducted in 2020 focusing on the following questions as pertaining to the confluence of anthropocentric (human) and ecocentric (deep ecology) ideals:

-What purpose does the farm currently serve for family, wildlife, and biodiversity?

-In what ways can the land be useful to the community at large, presently or in the future?

-How can land practices be improved while working with a variety of ideas pertaining to land use and conservation?

 

ACTIONS AND OUTCOMES

An ongoing plant survey was conducted; resulting 200+ plants logged into iNaturalist for public reference, many with medicinal and edible properties.

Actions resulting from the Inquiry include:

-Planting 100+ native trees including Bald Cypress, Red Bud, Smooth Sumac, and Black Oak.

- Launching of the Wild Seed Youtube Channel featuring a segment on Spencer Acres. 

 

 

-Planting 100+ native trees including Bald Cypress, Red Bud, Smooth Sumac, and Black Oak.

- Planting 80+ varieties of perirenal native wildflowers, dye plants, fibers, and medicinal herbs. 

- Launching of the Wild Seed Youtube Channel featuring a segment on Spencer Acres. 

- A series of 'Small Batch' items crafted from foraged and grown plants on the farm for the larger community. Sold by donation.

                     

Spring 2021 Menu

Spencer Acres Flier.jpg
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