Elaine Banerjee has traveled the world and filled her life with amazing tales, but her dream as a young child brought her to Simpsonville and farm life at Xanadu.
Taken from an article by Camilla Corder that appeared in The Shelbyville Sentinel-News.
Xanadu, Coleridge writes, is the palace of emperor Kubla Khan and the fertile land that surrounds the palace. When Elaine Banerjee settled her own “stately pleasure-dome”, the name simply fell into place. Xanadu is her own palace of perfection. Banerjee owns the 113-acre farm with her husband, Timir. Fascinated by Coleridge’s words, naming their farm Xanadu seemed a no-brainer.
When she was little, Banerjee remembers visiting her great-grandfather’s farm – playing with the animals and working alongside her grandfather. “It was my dream to walk the path of my ancestors, connecting with nature,” she said. It took her awhile to come full circle and for Banerjee full circle was the globe. She and Timir have trekked the Himalayas, camped in the frigid North and South poles and volunteered in developing countries. This question always remained – what comes next?
With an empty bucket list and a bucket full of memories, they decided to start their own farm, founding Xanadu in 2013. “We decided to purchase a small farm and raise our own food, humanely, in family groups, on pasture, without hormones or the use of routine antibiotics and without genetically modified feed”.
After much discussion and research, they decided to raise Dorper sheep, heritage breed Red Wattle pigs and Bourbon Red turkeys. That same precision and analytical mind she used to travel the world, helped Banerjee and Timir settle on the perfect breeds for their farm. All the animals at Xanadu Farms are perfect for the environment of hay fields and pastures. “We use natural fertilizer – aka manure – and do not spray chemicals on our fields,” she said. They also USDA process pasture raised lamb and pork.
Today, Xanadu Farms has grown to 130 heads of sheep, three sows, a boar, two gobblers, six hens, four Great Pyrenees guard dogs and even two guard donkeys that keep watch on the fields.
Farming life is hard with each day bringing something new and unplanned. “I get up in the morning with a plan and can hear the universe laughing, because what has happened in the barns overnight will change the itinerary for the day. Flexibility has been my first lesson to learn,” Banerjee said.
Days can change at the drop of a hat, whether being in the barn with 22 baby lambs born within 28 hours or the sheep opening the corn bin, life on the farm is unpredictable. “That’s what keeps me going and going, the love of Mother Nature in all her splendor,” said Banerjee, “I’m blessed to be so close to what really matters in life and to learn the lessons Mother Nature has to teach. Xanadu is a labor of love for ourselves, our family and our community.”
Humbled by the lessons learned in her role in agriculture, she is happy to be part of the growth of women in the field. “In Shelby County I have been acquainted with women running operations, raising cattle, sheep, fruits, vegetables, flowers and honey,” she said. Living off the land and farming has its trials and tribulations, but it offers a self-sufficient lifestyle that has escaped society.
“We are happy to share our love of the land and eating great food the way our ancestors did, off the land, animals living in family groups and grazing natural lush green pastures,” she said. For more information or to schedule a visit to Xanadu Farms, contact Banerjee at 502-552-0428 for an appointment.