Our Story - How We Became Farmers
Updated: Dec 24, 2019
Many of those who know us have been quite surprised that we decided to leave everything to pursue farming full time. For those curious minds, here is our story of how God worked on our hearts and in our lives to lead us to where we are now.
For those who don't know us, both Nick and I (Alicia) grew up in the suburbs of the Waukesha/Lake Country area of Wisconsin with no futures in farming on our horizons (or so we thought). We were just 16 and 17 years old when we met at a high school cross country camp in Madison and started dating.
We married after college, and less than a year later we attended a summer cookout. At the cookout, a high school friend of Nick’s told us about a documentary called “Food Inc”. He said that it had changed the way he made decisions about the food he bought.
Interested, we rented “Food Inc” and wow, were we surprised to find out just how little we knew! Our eyes were opened to the way food really was produced in the industrial food system, and we didn't want to support it if we didn't have to.
This started us on a journey of supporting local farmers as well as learning to produce some of our own food. Alicia immediately joined a CSA worker share (an arrangement where someone works on a farm in exchange for products from that farm – in this case, a weekly box of vegetables) at a local organic vegetable farm. We also began buying other products from local farmers whenever possible.
We also started growing as much as our own food as we could. Adding four children along the way, we started with just a few pots of herbs, tomatoes, and peppers at a duplex in the city. After moving to a 3-acre homestead, we grew to have a large garden and chickens for meat and eggs.
We had so much fun learning how to start seeds for the garden, hatch chicks in an incubator or under a broody hen, process our own meat chickens, and so many other new experiences.
We loved learning more and more about food production, we loved that it was something we could do as a family, and we loved how much it was teaching our children about biology in a hands-on way.
As we learned more about nature and how food is produced, we became convinced that the Lord had designed the soil to be a living organism. This living organism has a world of life in it that sustains the plants that feed us and the animals.
We learned that by nurturing this life in the soil, the plants that grow in it are also more nourishing to the animals and people who eat them. This is where we got the name for our farm – by nourishing the soil itself through pasture management and minimal to no soil disturbance (tilling), we believe the pasture produces food that is more nourishing as well.
But back to the story. :-) As we produced more of our own food, we realized how much we loved it and how much it taught our children (and us!) about life.
We began to have a vision of farming full time as a family.
Armed with inspirational stories from other young, beginning farmers on YouTube and all over the internet, we decided we would start small by raising pastured poultry on our 3 acres and pray for more pasture land to open up for rent nearby where we could hopefully expand one day.
For a couple of years, we had been learning about and wanting to implement Joel Salatin’s methods of rotating cattle daily onto fresh pastures and following them with chickens. This method mimics nature’s order of birds following omnivores. However, we figured it would be quite a long shot to have enough land to work with to run cattle, so sticking with just pastured poultry seemed to be the best option.
God had other plans for us, however! Just a few months after we decided we would pursue farming as a family, we were talking with friends at church about an older farming couple that we all had purchased farm products from.
This couple wanted to retire and for their organic farm to go on but didn’t have anyone they knew that wanted to farm it. We figured it was a long shot since we didn’t have much experience, but we decided to give them a call and just let them know it would be something we would be interested in doing.
After meeting just a few days later in person with the couple and outlining our vision for the farm, we immediately all agreed that this was something we wanted to do – to gradually transition the farm over to our management. We were just in awe of the opportunity that the Lord had given us, one that we never imagined would happen.
So, we sold our house and moved into the old farmhouse on the property this past spring! It was a process that took a lot of hard work on the part of the couple that owns the farm (for which we can never thank them enough!) and on our part as well, but we know that this is just the beginning of our work here.
Our vision for this farm is to grow here as a family and to teach our children about hard work, God’s creation, and serving others.
Our vision is to provide food that is nourishing and healing to people.
We’re so thankful for the opportunity to do this together.