The blog of Hope Grows

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Big News from Hope Grows: A Letter from Your Farmers

Dear Friends,

Big changes are on the horizon for Hope Grows. There is much to say, but here's a condensed list of what we'd like to share with you:

  • We've learned a lot in 3 years.

  • We are ready to transition--we need your help!

  • Elliott will primarily run the farm through the season's end.

  • Arianne will pursue employment in Savannah ASAP.

  • Thanks for everything. We're looking forward to the next steps.

These points are explored in further detail below.

We've learned a lot in 3 years.
When I came to the farm in late October 2008, I'd worked on farms before, but never with chickens. With abundant generosity from Janet Taylor, Elliott and I started with the nucleus of a farm--some laying hens, some land, and some customers. Since then we've built a diverse, pasture-based farm enterprise. We added meat birds, pigs, turkeys, and vegetables to our repertoire--and our list of supporters grew to over 150 families. It wasn't always rainbows and sunshine. We learned the hard way from time to time. Ducks were discouraging, not to mention the drought that's postponed our sheep dreams (sorry...but the grass just won't grow when it doesn't rain for two months). However, after 3 years we're endowed with bigger muscles and a richness of real-life, dirt-under-your-fingernails experience. Through it all we have witnessed the power of community, and are encouraged about the possibilities to come as we reorganize ourselves and our farm.

We are ready to transition--we need your help!
At the end of 2011 the 3-year lease on our 6.5 acres will end, and we have an opportunity move on to other adventures--perhaps other farms. We've enjoyed our life here in Dover, but after the year's end we will likely find ourselves closer to urban centers and the urban eaters responsible for 80% of our sales. We do not expect gas prices nor the price of commodities to decrease (and quite frankly we weren't so jazzed about using so much of them to run our farm and market our products in the first place), so it is exceedingly important for us to put ourselves as close to our customers as possible. Not to mention, there are infinite possibilities for education and exposure to the ideas and practices we've been promoting in an urban environment. Right now we are excitedly brainstorming how this will look for each of us, and will certainly leak plans and details as they become available. Keep reading for what we will do in the meantime--and how you can help. Our network of friends is our most valuable resource.

Elliott will primarily run the farm through the season's end.
At the beginning of the year we promised to produce good, clean, fair food for you and your families--especially to those of you that signed up for the CSA (thanks again). We will continue to make good on that promise. With the assistance of WWOOFers and community members, Elliott is committed to running the farm. You can expect pork, chicken, and turkey, plus an assortment of veggies and fruits throughout 2011. Please let us know if you'd like to stock-up on products for next year so we can plan accordingly in our production through the fall. After Thanksgiving we will begin the process of winding-down production and packing up the farm. If by chance as a CSA member you have not used all of the credit in your Farm Trust account by the end of the year, we will gladly write you a check for the difference. Once the farm break-down process is complete, Elliott will be going on an epic adventure that does not involve chickens, furthering his education and ending up in the DC area, near his sister and family.

Arianne will pursue employment in Savannah ASAP.
To support the farm and begin the transition to an urban iteration of Hope Grows in Savannah, I (Arianne) am seeking part or full-time employment there ASAP, hopefully in an area related to food production, preparation, distribution, education, management and/or activism. If you know of opportunities, please send them along. Also, if you know of land that's available for long-term lease or for sale in/around downtown, don't hesitate to tell me about it! I will still keep close ties with the land activities here on the farm, but it's important to begin the transition process. The ultimate goal here is to continue to work in a field related to providing local people with information and products that let them live healthy, sustainable lives, while making preparations to establish a new local food enterprise in downtown Savannah.

Thanks for everything. We're looking forward to the next steps.
It has been utterly rewarding growing for and with you. Inside of ourselves we have grown 10 years in only 3. We'll move on as smarter, stronger, more connected, more patient, more skilled, deeper versions of ourselves. Of course we will have a party, and you'll all be invited.

All the Best,

Arianne and Elliott

Hope Grows
284 Dover Rd.
Sylvania, GA 30467