We decided on a farm name: Russell Hill Ranch.
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Here is our Story:
We met a year and a half ago while we were each living in California and it was love at first sight. Rob was a high school Chemistry teacher, I was an organic farmer. Not long after, Rob was teaching me how to rock climb, boulder and took me backpacking. I was teaching him how to play tennis and introducing him to new unusual vegetables. We were running, hiking, camping, fishing, cooking, canning, jamming, baking, building, wine tasting, snowshoeing, exploring, and just enjoying being with each other.
As we talked about our future dreams and ideal life, we knew we wanted to have some land to grow our own fruits and vegetables organically. We wanted to have chickens, ducks, possibly goats and pigs. Rob wanted a fixer-upper house, I wanted to grow herbs. We love canning, making sweet breads, cooking and we would love to grow our own organic food for doing these projects. We also wanted to be able to grow organic food for other people, and share in the benefits and deliciousness of fresh, wholesome food. We knew that we could never afford to fulfill these dreams in California so we planned our departure from California to discover our ideal home.
Rob built a bed for the back of our minivan, we put most of our belongings in storage, and after a summer of hiking and exploring California including hiking Half Dome in Yosemite, and Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous US, we left California in September 2014. We had a wonderful time visiting all of the National Parks in Utah, as well as Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Badlands. We spent two weeks in Minnesota with my family, exploring the area. We spent time in the east, mainly Pennsylvania, with Rob’s parents.Then, at the end of January 2015, a perfect opportunity came that would bring us closer to beginning those dreams. Rob’s sister owns a small house in Elizabethton, Tennessee with 7.5 acres of land that she rents. Her renters were moving out and asked if we were interested in moving in. A place of our own? Land to farm? A barn for animals? Mountains in our backyard? YES!
So here we are. We have a cute little house that has and will need a lot of love and care. (Rob said he wanted a fixer-upper.) We have already put a lot of work into the inside of the house and have done some clean-up outside. One of our first projects was to build a compost pile and now we are in the middle of building a chicken coop.
Now we are ready to get our hands dirty and start growing some vegetables, prepping the fields, clearing some ground, restoring the land, and getting going on bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to our new community. We want to start a CSA for the people of Elizabethton and possibly help start a farmers market here, too.
We have picked out some spots on the property where we want to put row crops and we have a place where we envision an orchard.
Rob and I are very money conscientious and have been able to work only minimum wage jobs since we got to Eliabethton just to pay the rent, gas, propane, and for the immediate repairs we have needed to make to the house. (Rob just started a teaching job in the middle of March at a local high school.)
Now what we would really love is a tractor to help make this process more feasible and expedient. We have seen tractors on craigslist for around $2500-$5000. There are also a couple of auctions coming up in our area that we are going to check out to see what is available there. We would also like to get a field prep implement like a plow or some discs. Rob and I both have experience driving tractors and Rob is confident fixing them.
We would love any support you can give us in helping bring our dreams to reality, taking better care of the earth, spreading the good word for organics, and sharing in our fruitful harvests.
A tractor would also be great to help clean up some of the trash piles that the former renters left in our back yard. Any Kickstarter money left over would help pay for bringing the garbage to the dump.
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Risks and challenges
We know that farming is a risky business in and of itself. Weather, bugs, diseases, animals are challenges that we know we will face. We are ready for those challenges because that is part of being better farmers. Emily has 8 years of experience working on organic farms and already has a lot of practice and a bag full of tricks for dealing with these issues. Rob is Mr. Fix it and knows a lot about tractors, repairing equipment, and building things. He is also an avid researcher, review reader, and very purposeful and intentional in his decisions. We are eager to do our best to take care of and give back to the land, bring healthy, organic vegetables to the community and share with others the delicious benefits of wholesome food.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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