In 2014, Rodney had just gotten back from an almost year long deployment in Afghanistan. Struggling with adjusting back to normal life, applying for jobs without much luck, and struggling to figure out what to do in the meantime, we decided to pick up farming his grandfathers organic blueberry farm that had been unkept for over 15 years.
We filed the business paperwork, priced out and ordered equipment, branded with a logo, timed out harvests, mapped out farmers markets and made a business plan for the next several years. It was an exciting idea to bring local organic blueberries to the community where we lived at the time in South Carolina.
Hundreds of plants were transplanted.
Certification for organic was too expensive.
The true farm equipment we needed for efficiency & proper upkeep was overwhelming and out of our affordability.
We used most of my paycheck after bills were paid to pay for supplies & equipment.
But the motivation was still there. We kept checking the blueberries eagerly until it was harvest time. Most of the day Rodney would be out picking to get ready for farmers markets.
Farmers markets were disappointing. The profits, if any, couldn't sustain this for much longer. We didnt use social media much if any at the time and it was difficult to get the word out. He tried larger markets and we looked into supplying local stores.
We did eat a lot of blueberries that year though, that was a highlight.
At the end what it came down to is despite two young people having the desire, passion and energy to farm an already established crop, we realized it would take such a large amount of money to be able to make it actually be profitable it just wasn't going to happen. We didn't have the money to take it off the ground. We had to abandon that dream.
Visiting Polyface Farm earlier this year, we heard Joe Salatin say that the current average age of the American farmer is around 60 years old. In most workforces, the ideal average age should be around 30 - meaning there is a good mix of older & younger individuals. But today, there are older farmers who cant retire because there is no one to take their place and younger farmers who flat out cant afford to enter the profession.
Its been really special to our family to be able to try this again after we had to give up that dream 7 years ago. Every week is a new learning curve but we are truly grateful for the opportunity and experience that growing goodness brings to our lives and others.
Whenever and wherever you can, support small farms. Support beginning farms. Support young farmers. Support the farms doing the hard work growing chemical free, organic, good nourishing foods.