The year 2013 has already been the most important for Elliot and I and that is saying a lot being 23 days in. This year we have accepted the challenge of setting down roots in a place, ending our nomadic wanderings and committing ourselves to a region, a community, and most importantly, 12.5 acres of delicate ecosystem. Our journey to this decision has been important, at no point during our travels through the state of Georgia would I have changed a detail. Each new location our tired wings placed us was full to the brim with intelligent, inspiring, and loving people dedicated to their communities, the preservation of the region’s heritage, and the adaptability and evolution of their foodways. While we have often times felt guilty about ducking into a food community only to see the bloom open slightly, and ducking out once again, it has been an honor to be a part of such incredible progress in the Southeast. Our farmer friends, food advocates, and loyal customers have been our best teachers and we hope to carry all of their lessons with us as we build our homestead and dedicate our labors to the North Georgia Mountains.
As 2013 begins, we have become proud residents of Blairsville, Georgia, a town nestled into the Southern most tips of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. The farm is located in a valley with a single mountain in view in the back growing space. It has an incredible stream running its length, a pole barn, old homestead, milking barn, several other outbuildings, and rampant patches of bamboo. The farm itself has been unoccupied by humans for about 10 years and the wear and tear of life has made its mark on most of the buildings and growing spaces. We have already dedicated numerous hours to the farms reclamation and this will be a project that lasts for several years. Overall the farm has very good bones, the house is injured but sturdy, the outbuildings needing only roofs, patches and some tinkering, and the farm totes some of the most incredible soil I have ever seen.
We have negotiated a lease purchase agreement with the former owners of the property, the Biodynamic growers and educators Hugh Lovel and Shabari Bird. This farm was formerly known as the Union Agriculture Institute and was operated as a nonprofit. The land was farmed for 30 years by Hugh Lovel himself and was the very place where his incredible knowledge and understanding of the relationship between the universe and plants bloomed. Right here on our new land was the muse for the book A Biodynamic Farm and this very soil was sculpted with the most intentional, restorative methods in agriculture today. The Union Agriculture Institute was the first Biodynamic Farm in Georgia and not only served as an educational farm for interns such as Farmer D of Farmer D Organics, but also a site for conferences, a CSA, early sales to Farmers Markets in Atlanta, and so much more. Hugh Lovel, having left the daily operations of the farm, now spends most of the year in Australia with his wife Shabari, sharing their wealth of knowledge about what Hugh has termed, Quantum Agriculture, the most holistic and comprehensive view of farming generated from the idea that no form of influence to the growth of the plant, small or large, distant or immediate, can be excluded from its overall evaluation. That every aspect of the crop’s reality creates an impact on its growth and therefore all relationships the plant has with the soil, soil biology, minerals, nutrients, atmosphere, cosmos, energy, etc. must be considered.
This method of growing, as Biodynamics has always stressed, requires a considerable level of dedication to sustainable growing methods. It reaches beyond organic growing and views the farm as a living, breathing organism. Growing in this way imitates the elaborate and complex relationships replicated in any and all ecosystems on the planet. Elliot and I have always been drawn to this farming mindset and we are beyond excited and honored to carry on the heritage of this incredible piece of land. From building our own composts using the Biodynamic Preparations to considering the alignment of the cosmic bodies when we start and end life on our property, we can only hope to do our best and learn as we go, just as Hugh Lovel did when he first landed upon this beautiful valley. This is an oppportunity for us not only to homestead, set roots, and grow, but to revitalize an inspired landmark nestled in the Georgia landscape.
And Georgia, sweet Georgia, our love affair with you has been tender and humid, often times difficult and complex, but always rewarding and it appears that we are in it for the long haul. As we begin to turn over soil this spring, set seeds and pull weeds, we are reminded of what you have provided us. The support systems you have unveiled and the communities you have housed. This year especially will be one of great challenges and difficult decisions. It will require from us a work ethic unlike any we have set forth to this day and it will break our limits and test our spirits. We have already tasted some of this challenge and we are anxious and excited to see what we’ve got. In the heat of it all, and I mean there will be heat, we know that Georgia, sweet Georgia, you have always been our home.