Often times, folks ask me “why” and “how” I got in to regenerative farming. How did I find myself here? A woman in her mid thirties, with a family, and a career outside the farm. It’s a fair question, and one that I’ve pondered on my own. I’ve heard sentiments such as, “what got in to her” and “you don’t know what you’re in for” and “you’ll never make any money” and so on… I think y’all can get the gist. If you are a woman working in agriculture than you have likely experienced similar uninvited scrutiny of your life choices at this point. Carry on, regardless of what other’s think.
For our first post together, I wanted to talk about the “how and why” of it. Not any one detail or experience has brought me to this life. I believe it to be my collective experiences that have led me to this place, and to writing this down.
When I was ten years old we moved out of the city to a small town, in an old home, with a big green yard. There were apple trees, lilac hedges, and a giant willow. In the back of that yard ran French Creek. The rest of my childhood was spent outdoors. Playing, swimming, and fishing in that creek. Observing how the changes of seasons impacted that beloved space. Figuring out that the trout would be found in the coolest waters come August. Building forts and walking fallen tree trunks between crayfish expeditions. One year, the neighborhood kids and I spent, what felt like weeks, figuring out how to remove a misplaced shopping cart from our favorite swimming spot. Over the years, we hauled out tires, scrap metal, and anything foreign to that water. Always leaving it better than we found it, doing as we had been taught. A lesson that follows me every day.
Hunting and fishing were a big part of my youth. It taught me conservation, respect for balance, and sparked a love inside me for the woods. The time spent with my Dad, Grandpa’s, and Uncle’s was special. I was the first girl to be interested in these parts of our life. I was able to go with out my siblings due to being the oldest. It was my time. As long as I can remember I’ve loved to sit and be quiet in the woods.
Fast forward twenty something years. We decided to leave the suburbs and fulfill a desire to live closely with the land. We sold our house to friends of friends and never listed it for sale – everything happened very quickly. We were not ready for the next steps, and had to figure them out quickly. We started looking for land, originally in Chatham county. We wanted to stay near by to my in law’s. As time went on, and search after search, and lot after lot, didn’t work out for one reason or the other, we started feeling discouraged. We learned about subdividing land, septic systems, soil science, road access, timbering, tax incentives, water sheds and buffers… There were so many considerations, it was overwhelming.
Eventually we started looking for land in and around Hillsborough. We wanted to be close to Durham, but enjoy the pace and quaintness of small town life. Hillsborough checked these boxes. We made offers on property in Efland. Eventually these fell through due to road access issues, but that process took us 6 months to figure out. We paused our searching. When we dove back in to the hunt, we found our land. It was a large, 200 acre parcel for sale, way beyond our budget. We asked the seller if they would be willing to subdivide the property, and they were. All the contractual details were worked out. It had been 2 years from the time we sold our home, to the time we closed on this land.
We craved a name unique and meaningful for our time here. Something personal. That’s how Everfield Farm came to be. A combination of Kris’ mom’s maiden name, Everett and my mom’s maiden name, Field. Everfield Farm.
Finding land that had both woods and pasture, a natural water source, and within a few miles of town was a tall order on our budget. Land that had not been mono cropped, or nuked with herbicide seemed impossible to find. When we came to look at this land in late July, it shook it my soul. I knew we had found our home. It had been loved and cared for by a forward thinking, elderly farmer, for decades. He raised grass fed angus beef on these pastures and through these woods.
It is the land, after all, that dictates how and what we do as regenerative farmers. We are producing based on her abundance and her needs, rather than personal gain. We are careful not to impose our desires on to her. And so, everything we raise is deliberate, it is slow, and it is insuring that this place remain fertile to feed our community for generations after we leave this Earth. Selecting carefully as we want to enhance our ecosystem’s bio diversity and not inflict limitations. Mindfully, we give to her all that we can, instead of taking away. Always considerate of native species, pollinators, and the soil. Along the way we will teach this respect and balance to our children, family, community, and customers.
Managing thirty acres in a way that promotes nature’s diversity is going to be a life time of learning and a life long journey. This is my life’s work. This is the very first paragraph of my chapter here with her, and something I am so very green about. Sharing the ups and downs of this journey alongside my learning is important. I aim to help others get started, while being transparent about the struggles and success along the way. It takes a village to raise a farmer.
Increasing community access to ethically produced food requires a focus well beyond ourselves. We are stronger together, always.