The Backstory / Journey
Hello old friends! So, things have been up and down and left and right with this blog o’ mine for … the last couple of years!
If you’re still around, thanks for sticking with me and waiting out my long hiatus. I promise it’ll be worth it to stay with me.
SO much has happened since 2012-ish when I started blogging. I have held different jobs: organic farmer, environmental educator, high school sustainability education teacher, organic skincare crafter, and more! My husband and I have moved 6 times since we got married in 2012, and we are about to have our biggest, most anticipated move yet come early fall of this year! Because (in case the title of the post wasn’t clear enough) . . . . . WE BOUGHT A FARM!!
After some big life changes that left us with a clean slate in the job world as well as the where are we going to live world, we made the crazy, unexpected decision to move down to my hometown of Nashville, TN. My parents and 2 of my 3 siblings live here, as well as a couple of young nephews, and other extended family. I never thought I would move back to Nashville, let alone bring my northern husband with me. In my time “up north,” I fell in love with cross-country skiing (it is amazing, so fun, y’all!) and in one of our most recent and longest stints living in 1 place, Jon and I lived and worked at an environmental boarding school where we had access to several kilometers of ski trails right outside our door on campus. This was one of the biggest deciding factors when it came to moving. We didn’t want to go somewhere we couldn’t ski. Well, here we are, not thinking we’re going to have enough snow down here to be able to ski anytime soon, but we realized that all the other pros were enough to outweigh the whole not skiing thing. Plus, we still have friends up in northern Wisconsin that we can visit in winter and get our ski fix on.
So, at the end of 2016, right around Christmas, we decided to take the plunge into the south. Fast forward to decision-making time, circa very early 2017. While we were deciding about moving down here, we came across a posting online about a family that had a 13 acre certified organic farm that they wanted to either sell or rent out to beginning farmers who couldn’t manage the whole buying a property thing. We had been living with some of Jon’s family in Wisconsin while figuring out our next steps, and since it was proving tough to find somewhere to live in Nashville from so far away, we decided to take a trip down to Nashville in January. While we were down there, we reached out to the couple that placed the ad online and went to meet them and check out the farm. It was in a lovely area, the perfect amount of land, and had neighbors that were also young couples with small farms. The owners wanted the property to go to people who would continue to use the land as an organic farm, and were worried if they couldn’t find anyone, they’d have to put it on the market and just anyone might end up
buying. Still, there were other couples like us who had reached out to them and expressed interest in the property.
At the time, we thought it was a long-shot that anything would work out. The current owners needed to have it occupied ideally by early summer, and we had just signed a lease for a place that we were tied into until November 1. So couple
that with other “competition” for the property, and we weren’t getting our hopes up. As things go, life moved forward, and we stayed in touch with the owners. We exchanged emails for the next couple of months, expressing our interest and plans for the farm, that we were good candidates. After we moved down in February, we visited again to talk more. Then, more time went by, and in early spring we were told that we were “next in line” for the property, as the other interested parties couldn’t make anything work. By that time they wanted to sell rather than rent the property, and we happened to be in a position to be able to buy (for the right price). We went ahead and got pre approved for a loan, not knowing how we’d make it work, since we still had this lease through Nov 1 and that was still 6-7 months away by that time. We kept on it, and over time were able to work things out.
SO, after many months of back-and-forth (half a year!), we were able to finally put in an offer, and just last week, we closed on the farm! We realized that time was really a blessing, as in the greater Nashville area, most stuff that’s on the market is gone pretty fast, and we had the luxury of being able to visit the property a few times over all seasons, meet neighbors, and learn about the ups & downs of the land.
It is still surreal that we actually have our very own farm! We will be moving in a couple of months, and can’t wait to start our long-awaited farm life.
The farm property is 13 acres with a house and a couple of outbuildings. There are 5 hoop house frames (as you can see from the photos, they need some work!) in the field. It has been certified organic for the last several years, as the previous owners grew vegetables for market & restaurants, as well as organic chickens & eggs. It also comes with electric fencing, irrigation systems, and a beautiful creek bordering the property.
The house, like many/most old farmhouses, needs some work. Also, let me paint the picture of reality that when I say farmhouse, if you picture a cute 2 story house with a large porch and yellow siding, you would be far off of what this looks like. The house has zero curb appeal. There are some additions that from the outside look funny because there are different rooflines. BUT, if the house was picture perfect, the other reality is that we wouldn’t be able to afford it!
We look forward to adding our own touches and I’ll keep you all updated once we move in and do some work on it. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to become a home DIY blog, but I definitely want to share that part of our life because a) I think it’s interesting and b) It may be helpful for others in similar positions as us.
So, why the heck did we buy this farm, anyway? Well, one easy answer is that it has been a dream of ours for years.
I have interned on a few organic farms over the years (a couple of them I even lived on), and throughout those experiences, I never thought I would become a “production farmer.” In fact, I often said that I only wanted to have a farm for education and outreach, to build community, but not to actually produce food or plants in large quantity as one would with a CSA model. Well, here I am, eating my words yet again. I moved back to Nashville AND I’m going to have a production farm. But, in a different way than I imaged.
Over the last 5 years, I’ve been very drawn to herbs to the point of studying them through workshops and now an online course I am enrolled in. I started my business, Original Organics Herbals, to share high-quality, handcrafted organi
c products utilizing the healing magic of plants via herbs. Through starting my line of herbal goods, I discovered that the market for local, bulk, organic, high-quality herbs was very lacking. I would go to source organic calendula, a flower that grows in abundance and easily almost anywhere, and found that the wholesale suppliers were selling organically-grown calendula from Egypt and Croatia…not even domestically-grown.
We’d like to (starting small, of course) help fill this hole in the market for high-quality, organic medicinal herbs by growing…organic medicinal herbs! We plan to start with bringing some to the farmers markets I sell at, and then slowly expand to sell bulk dried herbs wholesale.
In the short-term, I will (hopefully by next season of 2018) bring fresh herbs to the farmers markets I sell my products at, and even make some bouquets of flowers & herbs, flower & herb wreaths and crowns, and some potted herbs for customers to take home and continue to grow.
Speaking of that, I have big dreams to create an on-site apothecary that is not my home kitchen :) I’m beginning to look into grants that could support this in the form of a yurt that would be outfitted with stainless steel countertops, industrial sinks, shelving, storage, and all the things I’d need to further expand my ability to create quality skincare + herbal goods.
For those that don’t know, I have a background in teaching. I worked for a number of years at the boarding school I mentioned above, teaching environmental & sustainability education. I have also been an educator on organic farms, at camps, and environmental education centers. My passion is connecting with others around healthy, natural living, and sharing the many ways to make this way of life accessible, affordable, and fun for all demographics.
I plan to host workshops and classes – open to the public – on a variety of topics from gardening to fermentation to cooking to herbs to essential oils and more! I will not be the only one teaching these workshops. We’ll bring in outside educators and experts in their field to share their wisdom.
Future of This Organic Life
With this change and exciting news, I’ve decided to delve into my blog once more, with new direction, focus, and passion!
I got a little burnt out after a while of writing how-tos and recipes, and realized this particular way of writing wasn’t really my passion. I intend to share in the same topics I have been: homesteading, hand-making, and healthy living, but just with a different twist: a more authentic, personal, and I think, interesting, twist! I will share about what we are doing on the farm in hopes that many out there can relate. I will have a special focus on natural health, including herbs and essential oils.
I’ll also be sharing what it’s like to work for yourself through my farming adventures and my brand, Original Organics Herbals.
Thanks for following along and stay tuned for so much more!