History of Sweetwater Farms
How It All Started
The land that is now home to Sweetwater Farms, was purchased in 2016 by Susan Lurz, co-founder of Proudtree Empowered Learning—a company that develops products and programs to help children learn to embrace and love who they are as they develop respect for others. Many of Proudtree’s products are centered around a charming, fictitious farm where all kids can feel like they belong—Sweetwater Farms. Shortly after moving to the farm, Susan discovered just how special and empowering the farm was, and knew the real Sweetwater Farms was about to be born.
Some things in life just need to be shared, and this farm is one of them. What better way to help our children grow up to be confident, resilient, and respectful; and empowered to become who they came here to be than on a farm dedicated to the social and emotional wellbeing of others? Developing a teaching farm wouldn’t be an easy task though for it wasn’t going to be your typical farm.
How We Made it Happen
At first, the town wasn’t quite sure what to do with Susan’s request to obtain a permit for the farm. She wasn’t growing corn, tomatoes, squash, or beans. She was growing a type of nurturing for the soul and there simply wasn’t a permit for such a thing. So the only thing she could do was attempt to get the town of Huntersville to change the definition of a bona fide farm ordinance to now include farms that conduct educational programs. With the help and guidance from a caring and compassionate town staff member, Susan presented her request at four town meetings and the ordinance change was eventually granted. She could now build her farm!
Today Sweetwater Farms sits on 13 of these “Miracle Day” acres located right in the middle of the original Kelly farm. Even though the 13-acre parcel has changed hands a few times throughout the years, it still carries forth the spirit and energy of empowering others and the will of the human spirit.
At Sweetwater Farms, children will learn what it feels like to belong or to be part of something greater than themselves, how to make healthy choices, and how to discover and embrace who they really are. They will learn kindness and compassion; and how to offer respect to others, animals, and nature. And they will learn how to join with others to form healthy relationships so together they can go out and change the world.
The History of the Farm
Susan intuitively knew there was something incredibly special about this land but had no idea just how special. It turns out that the land that Sweetwater Farms is built on has always had its roots in empowerment. Two brothers, George and Murray Kelly, purchased the original farm for $7,000 in 1947 when they returned home from their service in WWII. Unfortunately, they found themselves in a joint venture of a farm that was “washed out with poor soil and eroded gullies.” But, the Kelly brothers’ misfortune ended up being a blessing in disguise.
Unbeknownst to them, County agents had been given the mandate to find the most “eroded, run down farm” in the county to be given a “Miracle Day” makeover and the Kelly farm was chosen. On October 14th, 1948, the Kelly brothers were among the 60,000 spectators watching as a miracle was performed in one day on their farm in Mecklenburg County. The farm was being transformed from a useless tract of worn and battered land to an oasis of alfalfa, wheat, barley, oats, and corn. There were cotton fields, fruit orchards, vegetable gardens, and pastures for horses and cows to graze.
Farmers and city folks alike marveled as a bulldozer dug a two-acre pond that was brimming with fish by nightfall. The Kelly brothers watched in amazement as some 300 men and over a half-million dollars worth of machinery transformed their farm. It was said that the accomplishments achieved in that one day would have taken the average farmer twenty years to complete on his own.