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Program 1003

1. farmer/musician John Christopher Knight
2. Rich Detzel’s Nature Academy
3. photography showcase
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Logan County

For more information:

Producer: David Brinkley
Videographers: David Brinkley, Stephen Kertis
Editor: Stephen Kertis

Celebrating the Simple Life

Farmer and musician John Christopher Knight

The themes for this edition are keeping it simple and living close to nature. First, we meet a Logan County family that does both.

John Christopher Knight, the son of an Air Force pilot, started out in life chasing the conventional idea of “success.” But after a decade or so, he grew disenchanted and decided to try a very different path. In 1989, he moved his young family to a farm in Logan County, where they would live without electricity, indoor plumbing, or motorized vehicles.

John got some help and advice in starting his new life from Logan County’s Old Order Mennonite community. Today the family includes nine children, the last four born at home. They all help with growing their own food, using horses for plowing, and with raising and training border collies.

The Knights also make their own entertainment, in the form of family jam sessions featuring dad on vocals, daughter Madison on banjo, and sons Justin and Joel on guitar. A man who overheard John singing some of his original songs about his family’s life at a border collie competition offered to arrange for a recording session, and now the Knights have recorded a CD and do some public performing. That income, plus money made from border collie sales and training, provides the cash to buy the few things they can’t provide for themselves.

To help reach a wider audience both for his music and his message about simple living, John did make one concession to modern times: a web page where you can order CDs and a video about the family.

Owen County

For more information:
• Rich Detzel, (859) 331-5345

Producer, editor: Joy Flynn
Videographer: Amelia Cutadean
Audio: Anne Deck

Back to Nature

The Nature Academy

In our second segment, host Dave Shuffett meets another close-to-the-land Kentuckian when he tours the Nature Academy.

The academy is the work of Rich Detzel, who operates it on a 110-acre patch of Owen County. Here he welcomes school groups for “Windows to the Wild” educational programs on raptors, reptiles, and bees. Kids also can hike, fish in the eight-acre lake, learn about herbal remedies from plants many would consider “weeds,” and explore a little of Native American culture: The property includes a semi-permanent wooden structure modeled on the dwellings of the first Kentuckians.

There’s also a more permanent wooden structure, Detzel’s hand-built lodge made largely of railroad ties salvaged from Cincinnati’s old Union Terminal. The interior includes a variety of other architectural pieces recovered from churches slated for demolition as well as hand-made wooden chandeliers.

The Nature Academy is not open to the general public, but school and senior citizens’ groups can arrange to visit. Rich also can provide speakers on topics like falconry and beekeeping.

Flora and Fauna

Photos from Great Places

We wrap up this nature-themed edition with a musical montage of photographs featuring lush Kentucky scenery and rare flowers and plants. The photos were taken by KET staff photographer Steve Shaffer in the fall of 2003 while the Kentucky Life crew was gathering footage for the 2004 TeleFund special, Kentucky’s Last Great Places, based on the book of the same name by photographer Thomas Barnes.

SEASON 10 PROGRAMS: 1001100210031004100510061007
100810091010: Kentucky’s Last Great Places1011101210131014

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