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Meet an Eco-Farmer: 180 Degree Farm

180 Degree Farm Eco-Farmer

Scott and Nicole Tyson, 180 Degree Farm. Photo by Joe Lamp’l.

Why did you begin farming?

My wife and I purchased property in Sharpsburg, Georgia, eight years ago. We had envisioned building a house and starting a small farm. Soon after the purchase, my son Mason was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a childhood form of cancer. As Mason’s cancer became nonprogressive, we realized we needed to do more than just grow good food for ourselves. So we started this farm as a nonprofit organization. Today, 180 Degree Farm donates to those who are sick or in need within our community. We also have a CSA and farm-to-hospital program with Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Newnan, Georgia.

Have you always been an eco-farmer, or did you make a change?

Yes, when I started, we didn’t have a lot of money to spend on chemicals, so I learned how to grow chemical-free out of necessity. I only started to understand why that was a great choice after Mason was diagnosed.

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Meet an Eco-Farmer: Spellcast Farm

Spellcast Farm Eco-Farmer

Michelle Bernard & Wally McSwain, Spellcast Farm. Photo by David O. Brown.

Why did you begin farming?

I began farming the day I was laid off from my high-paying job as a commercial real estate paralegal. The day I was laid off, I was due to pick up my first dairy goat. I almost did not due to worries about finances, but I’m glad I did. That dairy goat started the journey to what is now Spellcast Farm.

Have you always been an eco-farmer, or did you make a change?

We’ve always tried to be sustainable; this was by necessity. Early on, I did not have a lot of money to invest in the farm. When Wally joined Spellcast Farm, he helped financially, but we have to be creative about what we do. We elected to work with heritage breed rabbits (Silver Fox and American Chinchilla) and ducks (Ancona) to preserve genetic diversity. We use locally grown grains whenever possible and avoid soy and GMO feed.

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Meet an Eco-Farmer: Diamond P Farm

Diamond P Eco-Farmer

Nancy and Scott, Diamond P Farm

Why did you begin farming?

I went looking for local food in our county at farmers’ markets and there was none, so I started a CSA on our farm with 10 members and over six years that morphed into a rent-a-row program where I now teach families in the community to grow their own food sustainably. They rent one row out of our garden area and grow their own crops. The chickens, beef and dairy came about because of the interest from our community and ourselves to have more than just vegetables that were ‘clean.’

What was the biggest hurdle you have overcome?

Learning to grow in Florida, which is noted for lots of grass, bugs and sand.

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Meet an Eco-Farmer: Broad River Pastures

Broad River Pastures Eco-Farmer

Cathy R. Payne, Broad River Pastures

Why did you begin farming?

I have loved working with animals since childhood and have always been fascinated with genetics and breeding. My husband Jon and I became foodies and locavores and spent a lot of time on farm tours and at farm conferences because of our interest in quality food. We started promoting farm businesses on the Our Natural Life podcast, and woke up one day in October 2009 with the idea to move to the producer side. Eleven weeks later we owned a piece of land, and I retired from 33 years of teaching six months after that.

What was the biggest hurdle you have overcome?

Our biggest hurdle was learning everything from the ground up, focusing on a niche market, learning business skills and the cost of implementing our infrastructure. Now we have systems, procedures and daily patterns on the farm that help keep things flowing smoothly.

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