Heather and Joe met in Chicago in 2007 and quickly learned of their common interest in homesteading, organics, permaculture, and radical activism. Thus began a five year search for the land that would one day become Wild Earth Farm and Sanctuary and the culmination of both of their lifelong dreams. Dozens of long weekend trips from Chicago to look at beautiful land throughout Appalachia finally, in 2013, brought them to that magical 200 acres in Irvine, Kentucky. The moment they saw the farm, they both knew that everything they’d been searching for for five years could be found in this one farm: forests rich with deciduous trees, wild mushrooms, and thriving with birds and turtles; fields abundant with berries and nut trees; barns and ponds just waiting for rescued animals; pawpaw and maple groves there for the foraging, caves and cliffs ripe for exploration, a one room church perfect for a learning center, and local surrounding communities of artists and activists.
Then began the surprising next journey into acquiring the farm, which included a six month process of tracking down the previous owners in the jungles of Ecuador, battling Amazonian insects and long bumpy rides to foreign embassies, until the farm switched hands and the building of Wild Earth began!
Heather Patrick is Co-Founder of Wild Earth Farm and Sanctuary, and takes care of all our nonprofit pursuits. Heather grew up on forty acres in rural Western Pennsylvania, where her childhood was spent organic gardening, wandering wild through the surrounding forests and fields, and caring for the hundreds of rescued farm animals and injured or orphaned wildlife her family gave sanctuary to.
She obtained her B.A. in Social and Cultural Anthropology from Connecticut College and subsequently spent three years traveling around the world, volunteering in small villages in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, and learning a variety of organic farming techniques. Heather went on to intern and work at various farmed animal sanctuaries and nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, where she participated in animal care, grassroots campaign coordination, and humane education. Heather resides at Wild Earth along with her family, and spends her days foraging, caring for our organic gardens and rescued farm animals, and still gets to be that “wild child.” She holds a Permaculture Design Certificate from Spiralseed.
Joe Kilcoyne is Co-founder of Wild Earth Farm and Sanctuary, where he heads up our business projects. One of his earliest memories involving the joy of growing food is of when he, his sister, and grandmother were picking peas in their family’s backyard garden on a sunny Sunday morning when he was about seven years old. Joe is eager to help close the gap that so many of us have created between ourselves and the food we eat. Having spent most of his life in and around Chicago, he is excited to continue to learn and develop the skills needed to live a life that respects and values the animals, plants, fungi, and minerals around us and to join with those who are in search of this kind of living.
He is excited to build a community around Wild Earth Farm with others who value individual experience and mutual cooperation in an environment where one can be both a student and teacher. Joe holds Permaculture Design Certificates from Midwest Permaculture and also from Spiralseed. He has many years of electrical construction trade experience as a foreman electrician, but most of all he loves lighting up the lightbulbs in peoples minds. He strives to foster independence, self empowerment, and the knowledge that we can work together to live free from exploitation by removing ourselves from the culture of domination.
Mike Durschmid brings to the farm decades of experience and active leadership with organizations concerned with ecology, organic farming, human and animal rights, and good stewardship of the earth. He serves as board member for Wild Earth Sanctuary and holds a Permaculture Design Certificate from Spiralseed.
Mike currently serves as the Chicago Area Organizer for Organic Consumers Association, organizing events, exhibits, rallies and speaking engagements covering topics such as labeling for genetically engineered foods, factory farming, and bee colony collapse. He also takes a leadership role with Illinois Right to Know GMO and is a principal organizer of Chicago March Against Monsanto.
Mike also serves on the Organizing Committee of Chicago VeganMania, planning and executing this major event, the largest of its kind in the Midwest, and he plays a major role in Rising Tide Chicago to stop hydraulic fracturing in Illinois. In his personal life, Mike has enjoyed a plant-based diet since 1980, using food from the organic garden which he has tended for many years. Mike welcomes this opportunity to share his extensive skills and experience with Wild Earth Farm and Sanctuary and its human and animal visitors.
Suzanne Fulton has been a supporter of Wild Earth Farm and Sanctuary since its inception. For over thirty years she has worked on behalf of animals. She has participated in countless demonstrations against animal cruelty, has rescued animals, and has volunteered with various animal rights organizations, including Mercy for Animals which presented her with the Hope Award for her volunteer work. Recognizing the important role of animal sanctuaries, as homes for animals and as educational opportunities for people, she is pleased to be on Wild Earth's board.
Lauren Hugel serves as the marketing advisor and brings with her 10 years of non-profit and small business marketing experience. She also has experience interning at Farm Sanctuary. Although she currently lives on the west coast, she donates her knowledge and expertise to the farm by overseeing the online marketing strategy.
Lauren met both Joe and Heather through a mutual friend in 2007. They became fast friends with their mutual interest in cruelty-free living and homesteading. Lauren spends much of her free time gardening and learning about permaculture and tiny living in preparation to live off the grid.