Our farm is made up of five friends, the Lanes (Andy and Katie), the Whartons (Doug and Molly) and Kathy Neal. The Lanes and Whartons began homesteading in 2009 in Knox County and Kathy has been gardening and cooking for years. In 2014 we made the decision to combine efforts and move to the Patterson family farm (Andy’s Grandparents) in Tuscarawas County.
Andy and Katie Lane have been interested in quality local food for many years. Katie is in charge of caring for the hens and all the small animals on the farm (rabbits, chicks, turkey poults). Katie is also a gardening fanatic. She loves seeking out the interesting creatures that inhabit our garden spaces and strives to understand their role in the gardening ecosystem. Andy enjoys baking rustic breads and is the farm’s web-designer, knife sharpener and charcuterie expert. He is also in charge of our perennial cropping systems.
Doug and Molly Wharton’s love for farming started with learning about compost! Molly is a birth doula, lactation counselor and midwife. Doug is our pig farmer. He also constantly uses his construction, electrical, plumbing and problem solving skills to create and make the infrastructure on the farm more efficient and sustainable.
Kathy has always been passionate about gardening, canning, and wholesome, tasty food. She is our accountant, record keeper and hospitality manager. Kathy is also a skilled ceramic artist and is working on building a studio for her work on the farm.
Together with our children we are turning our lives toward the land. We utilize farming practices that build soil, capture water, store carbon, and harness solar energy in order to produce the highest quality products for our customers while revitalizing the land and the people who live here. Our work in many ways is difficult but it has been made easier with the support from the farmers around us and those that came before us.
Our farm has a long history but we will start in 1950 when Bob and Frieda Patterson purchased 160 acres of rolling hills in western Tuscarawas County. Their families thought they were crazy to be starting a farm with small kids and not much money. Bob and Frieda raised 3 children while building their farm enterprise milking holsteins cows. They retired in the mid 1980s. Fast forward 30 years, the farm is no longer used for grade A dairy and has been through some major changes recently. We decided to start small with what we knew and that was livestock like chickens, rabbits, and pigs. While managing our small herds we are working on building and repairing infrastructure that has been neglected for over two decades. Our main water source is a large cistern that captures ground water as well as rainfall from our barns. Our fencing consists of mobile electric fencing and when we don’t have access to power we use our solar charged units. We have been sifting through what was left for us to see how we can repurpose the old and unused to suit our needs. Some of our changes have been rapid and some, like our perennial tree crops, will take more time to develop.
We default to nature. If pigs naturally want to go to the woods for protection from the elements or forage for nuts, then we try to accommodate that natural instinct. We don’t put rings in their noses to keep them from rooting in the ground. When our chickens want to scratch the earth in search of a perfect little worm, we let them. Chickens are omnivores, they eat bugs and the idea that chickens should be “vegetarian fed” is simply ridiculous to us. Our rabbits like to hop around and burrow, so we give them a place that they can do it safely without the risk of predators. Nature has a way about itself that is elegant and self sustaining, even regenerative. The industrial agricultural model is not. It fights against natural instincts at almost every turn. This is not to say that all of our work is happy and carefree. We watch the animals closely to make sure they are in the best possible situation and we move them to different areas often. This allows us to add fertility to the land without the use of synthetic fertilizers. As our farm grows we will continue to look toward nature as a guide and make adjustments when and wherever possible.