A lot of people have seen my love for Chattanooga over the years. I love the time I've got to spend there. While the city is very cool, and I have a love I can't quite understand it's also the people I've met there and know there who make it what it is. The Covenant College crowd never ceases to amaze me, genuine people with a love for God and his people.
My time spent this past week was with my cousins, mostly. Who live 25 minutes from Chattanooga.
We spent the time talking about the farm/garden they have and what people are looking at for their future. My Uncle Tim doesn't see being able to make a living simply from the farm and can't put in the hours for it therefore, but is happy for someone to make a CSA out of it and make a little money from it. (If people paid the real price of food it would go up 50-70%! Seriously!)
My cousin Jether and I have had this dream for years, a dream of working land together and growing food for ourselves and others. It might just be coming true. While I don't expect it to be the main source of my income, for 2016 I presume to be putting most of my hours towards it. I'm still young, and don't mind working hard right now, either.
While I'm not super tech savvy, and can't do a whole lot with putting together a website I've got social networking skills, and know how to work social media and other things such as taking photos and getting them uploaded. I helped redo some of the facebook page while I was there, as well as write up a CSA brochure that we'll hand out to customers who are interested. I did online research and rewrote a CSA contract for us to use with all our CSA customers.
A quick review of what a CSA is for those who don't know. It stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically at the beginning of the year the customer pays x amount of money for x amount of vegetables each week. The farmer says he'll do whatever he can to make that amount each week of produce, but things happen. That's where Community Supported comes into play. The customer says I'm willing to support my local farmer who is underpayed (very few farmers are payed what they're worth) and give him the money up front and hope to get vegetables for this year. It's a way of reconnecting or maybe connecting people to the land for the first time. It's building relationships with the people growing your food and is a great for educating people on farming. It also opens the door for other things tied in with a CSA, such as Farm to Table dinners and other events on the farm.
The plan is to do 10 CSA shares next year, and the hope to grow about 15 shares worth of food. Our first goal in having the farm was to provide for ourselves first, and then to others. We don't want to sacrifice our own food to feed others, we don't see that as beneficial or productive to the system. We will do two CSA's. One from May-July and another from August-October. Throughout the growing season we expect to do cooking classes for people to learn ways to cook with the food they're getting. We'll throw Farm to Table dinners which is another easy way to get a little more income, as well as just being plain fun. The opportunities are endless with Natural Ways Homestead. The only downside is the fact that of the 89 acres they live on, only a couple are cleared for pasture or garden. But we have so many resources at our finger tips. It's exciting just thinking about it.
I'll be moving out in March to start working. At that point it will mostly be greenhouse starting seeds and mulching areas of the garden and working on systems to get the CSA in place.
I'm excited to see where this adventure will take me. Taking it one year at a time.