Piney Mountain Orchard Update:
2018 marked the seventh year for my small farm business, Piney Mountain Orchard. And while I was hard at work growing greens and more, I also worked through some big changes. You may know that I farmed on land owned by my parents. This relationship is strong and the foundation of the success I’ve known as a grower. However, in late 2017 they began contemplating moving away from this area, and let me know as much. This led me to reevaluate my goals as a farmer, a business owner, and a woman in her early thirties.
Through the winter and the spring, I began pursuing other options, looking for new land and entering into business consulting to learn how to make a move work. I felt placed at a pivotal moment of the business: I could scale up, add employees and markets, move the farm to a more permanent location, perhaps even buy a farm and take on long-term debt. Or, I could walk away on good terms with markets and customers, with a love of farming and without the burden of business ownership. This would allow me pursue other passions in my life; a calling to serve others, and the immediate need for some rest and time off. I’m choosing the latter, because although I’m not certain of what will come next, I have spent enough time reflecting to know that scaling up and moving the farm is the wrong choice for me at this time.
I’d like to acknowledge that the ending of a farm business doesn’t feel good for our community. It’s a scary thing that many of us walk away, that running small farm businesses takes an enormous amount of hard work and sacrifice of time and energy, often without the reward of financial stability. I believe in our food system. I believe in working cooperatively together as farmers for the community and for each other. I believe in local farmers markets and the beautiful relationships formed there between farmer and customer. For now, I am excited to take time away from my bustling acre of veggies, weeds and the battle between them. I hope to celebrate seven years in business, the friendships made and the people fed, and to take time to explore what will come next.
As much as this letter is about letting you know my decision, it is also a chance for me to say thank you. It’s the opportunity for me to say how grateful I am to the local farming community and its great supporters. I doubt I could have made it past my first year in business without this community of customers, vendors, and volunteers. Sharing what I’ve grown with customers at market centered me and made the hard work worth it – my favorite part of harvesting has always been picturing the people I am picking for, fulfilled by the knowledge that good food brings people together. I know that farms and markets are spaces where community is built and sustained. Thank you for being a part of that with me! Thank you for your support of my farm, I am truly grateful.