Talking Solar Panels And Florida Growing Seasons With Cypress Grove Homestead

Founders Don Eckert and Matt Park reveal how Nigerian Dwarf Goats serve a dual purpose on their hobby farm and talk gathering power from the Florida sun.

by Phillip MlynarFebruary 11, 2021
PHOTO: Cypress Grove Homestead

Don Eckert and Matt Park run the Cypress Grove Homestead in Naples, Florida. It’s a 3-acre venture that strives to take eco-conscious steps and uses solar panels to power a property that brims with fetching Nigerian Dwarf Goats.

“This was Matt’s vision, to tell the truth,” says Eckert as he recalls the origin story of Cypress Grove Homestead. Park adds that he grew up in a small town in Indiana and that his family are from a long line of farmers. But it was only when he and his husband, Eckert, took the decision to move to Naples that they were in a position to add on to the self-sufficient lineage.

We spoke to Eckert and Park about utilizing solar panels and Florida growing seasons. We also got the inside story on the homestead’s boss goat.

Striving for Sustainability

Park says that being able to pursue “a more sustainable lifestyle” was a key part of the decision to launch Cypress Grove Homestead.

“I liked the idea of the conservation aspect of it,” recalls Eckert when asked about his initial reaction to starting a homestead.

Read more: This Kentucky couple champions solar and sustainability in the heart of the Bluegrass.

All in the Sun

When Eckert and Park began to plot out Cypress Grove Homestead, they knew that solar panels needed to be an internal part of the process.

“One of the first things we knew we wanted to do to ease our electric burden and carbon footprint was get solar panels,” explains Park. “It was for the financial burden but also to eliminate our share of the emissions.”

Dual Purpose Goats

Nigerian Drawf Goats prosper at Cypress Grove Homestead, and they also carry out what Park calls a “dual purpose” role.

“They’re pets but they contribute to the homestead,” he explains. “When we bought this place, the back acre and a half was completely overrun, like it had sat for years and was full of vines and poison ivy and brush. But the goats just came in and took charge and turned all that into milk.”

“The goats are low maintenance,” says Eckert. “They’re probably the best outdoor pet you can get and they’re super easy to socialize.”

He adds that the boss of the trip is a goat named Binky who’s become “like our homestead mascot” and “keeps everyone in line and she showboats when there’s other people around.”

Read more: Nigerian goats run with the hens at Mazzeltove Farms!

The Benefits of Goat Milk

“For the size of animal they are, the goats give a remarkable amount of milk,” says Park when asked about the benefits of raising Nigerian Dwarf Goats.

“The milk is very nutritious, plus a lot of people who can’t drink milk otherwise—like if they’re intolerant to lactose from cow milk—can still drink goat milk because the fat and sugar molecules are easier on the stomach.”

Channeling Florida Heat

Looking back over their most successful crops, Park says they’ve benefited from having “really good luck with peppers and tomatoes because of the heat down here.”

He adds that the Florida growing season is the “opposite of up north, so when we post pictures now, everyone up north is jealous and we like that!”

Eckert says that along with peppers and tomatoes, Cypress Grove Homestead produced a strong run of cauliflower and broccoli last year.

Follow Cypress Grove Homestead at Instagram.