by James Coulter
Folks were able to get back to their roots and jam out to great tunes in the middle of rugged Florida wilderness during the Roots and Jam Festival, hosted last Saturday at HEART Village in Warner University.
Attendees were able to go on guided farm tours of HEART Village, a self-sustaining demonstration village located within 40 acres near Warner University. They could also listen to bluegrass and other music performed by bands and musicians throughout the day, as well as participate in gardening workshops and enjoy meals made from food grown on location.
At least 150 attendees had been estimated to attend that day, with approximately 75 to 100 visiting, explained Phil Murphy, Executive Director for HEART Village.
“I am pleased with the goal that we met here today which was bringing people together,” he said. “The people who said they would come and do music, they came and they have done a really good job. The people who came to speak did a good job. The people who came to participate and volunteer [did as well]. I would say we went way over our expectations.”
HEART Village (Hunger Education and Resource Training) was started in 1981 by Warner University (then Warner Southern College). The “simulated world village”, as it is described, was started to train students with the essential skills needed to volunteer overseas in developing countries.
“It was the idea of people going overseas as missionaries or peace corps they go unprepared,” Murphy said. “They are not ready for the living conditions or the issues that people have to deal with overseas…living without the amenities we have here in the United States. That is how we got started.”
More than just a simulated village for training, HEART Village also serves as a fully-functional farm, supplying more than 65 percent of their own fruits and vegetables, and raising meat from fish and livestock on the property.
“We are focusing on preparing people to live in community and raise their own food and live sustainably and to do it in an appropriate manner, whether it is in the US or around the world,” Murphy said.
For the past several years, HEART Village has hosted an annual fall festival. They had ceased the celebration during the COVID-19 pandemic, but have since brought it back with a new focus on education.
“We decided to bring people together and have a good time and bring the community together,” Murphy said. “So. we focused this year on the gardens and the lessons a little bit, but mostly about giving people a place to eat some food and come together to listen to some local music, and also learn from one another and network. That has been our goal today.”