Greetings foresters, small and large farmers, homesteaders, patrons of these arts, and all other free thinkers and doers out there. Thank you for taking the time to read our first blog post. This blog is intended to share our experiences in the woods and teach you everything we can to help you live more self sufficiently and in harmony with Nature. We hope we can plant a seed and grow your dreams so we can reap an abundant future together.
It has been almost a year since my family and I sold our farm in Oxford, NC and moved back down south to Mayo, Florida. For any readers that don't know the back story: My wife Angela and I moved to Luraville, Florida in 2013. I completed a four month internship at Full Circle Farm and then partnered up with the Stoltzfoos family to launch a forest-fed pork business. In 2016, Angela, our newborn Willow and I took an opportunity and bought 100 acres and launched Nature’s Roots Farm in Oxford, NC. Our main operation centered around our raw milk dairy. We also had egg layer hens, seasonal forest raised pork, offered sawmill services, hosted events and baked fresh sourdough breads out of a commercial size brick oven. We learned a lot, cried a lot, laughed a lot, bled a lot, had a little boy that we named Henry, and worked a lot more. Then in March of 2021, we ended up visiting the crew at Full Circle Farm. During this trip is when it all changed. I had an idea that I shared with Angela and that was to sell the farm in NC and move back to FL. Oddly enough Angela was thinking the same thing at the same time. At that moment we decided to move back to Florida.
Angela then posted the farm for sale on Facebook and in three weeks we had a cash offer. It was still enough for us to be happy with our return on investment and make our exodus to Florida. We also sold each animal operation (cows, pigs, chickens) and sold all the pertinent equipment within a month. We found our dream home which had everything we needed to launch into the next chapter of our lives. We decided when we sold the farm we would homestead and support our family with food we produced and launch an agroforestry consulting and sawmill business to help others in our community develop their dream farms and edible landscapes. I am super excited to share these experiences with everyone and hope you can learn, laugh, and live more freely from these blogs.
We moved to the property in Mayo, FL 23 June 2021 and we don't regret one single detail of that decision. The property is comprised of 43 acres with river front access and amazing views of the the historic Suwannee River. There are over 5 miles of trails on the property and a huge workshop that we use for Southern Edge Agroforestry. There are some old sink holes around the property and we recently learned that we have an actual documented spring with a cave that flows to the river named Alligator Rescue Spring. There are divers that post their expeditions online and we read the last diver surfaced out of our spring in May of this past year. Nonetheless all these little things make this place that much more magical.
Over the past year we have started slower than the pace we have been used to flowing in prior years; for good reason of course! We have taken this time to do as much active observation as possible. Active Observation includes a number of examples:
Watching rain events and taking notes or pictures and videos of each event.
Studying different types of maps including flood zone maps, or topography and elevation maps.
Walking the land and making an inventory of the different plant communities, shrubs, and trees, as well as the age of tree stands throughout the land.
Observing and planning for the suns path, shade zones, wind breaks, wet zones, and other growing areas.
Complete thorough market research for your area and finding how your skills can help build a resilient community and support your family. We looked up the saw mills in our region and their average rates. This helped us build our pricing schedule to get the business going and get our name out in the community.
Find other like-minded farms, homesteads and families that you can get together and collaborate and barter with.
We homeschool our children so we have done the leg work to find groups and activities for the kids and us adults as well. The community around us is growing and thriving. In just under a year we have seen at least four new farms launching from scratch. We have been able to help out and provide consulting for a couple of these farms. It's amazing to see this growth and a self reliant community being born in front of our eyes.
After we did our research and observation, we jumped right into getting garden beds and soil prepped so that we could get produce rolling and get trees in the ground; we actually haven't stopped that part. If you come to visit you will notice that over time there are new gardens and zones that keep expanding with all types of goodies. Preparing the soil requires some mixture of fertile material and organic matter or a combination of both. We use wood chips for the organic material and cow manure and green mulches for the nitrogen sources. Over the past year, we have established a contact for clean cow manure from a nearby dairy. We also invested in a 14 foot dump trailer so that we can haul copious amounts of manure back to our property or even to other properties within our community for folks that are growing their own food. We’re currently in the process of making, preparing, and will have compost ready for sale in the next several month. So stay tuned for a better balanced and higher nutrient content blend to use in your gardens.
We are getting ready for more property development at the moment and doing our seasonal bush hogging. We started installing a staircase to the river and we are marking trees along the path to widen the access road to the river and other areas of the property. Along with all that fun stuff we are starting veggie seeds and propagating trees to plant around our property and for sale. So, drop us a line if you are interested in any plants or have any homesteading or property management questions of any kind: email@example.com
As we embark into our second year of operation and helping to cultivate our community, we are striving to keep a healthy balance throughout all aspects of our lives. We learned from our NC time not to over work ourselves and take the necessary time to nurture ourselves, each other and especially our kids. They are only young once and so are you. You can always find us in the woods somewhere around here and if we aren't in the woods, we are probably at the river! Talk to y'all soon.