Walter White, my grandfather – my mother’s father, was born in 1918 – the second generation to live on the farm. He married my grandmother, Virginia, in 1940 (a fantastic story of meeting in a U of I chemistry class) and raised their four children on the same farmstead. My mother was the youngest of these four children and built her homestead with my father 1/2 mile down the road from the farm. So, I grew up living next to the family farm and, now living on the family farm, my children live 1/2 mile down the road from their grandparents.
My grandparents had the typical small family farm – diverse crop plantings, diverse animals, and a large garden. My grandmother raised chickens and sold eggs, knew how to drive a tractor and bake cherry pies, and had cupboards full of preserved and canned goods. My grandfather did the farming until his eyesight deteriorated in the 1980s and then hired neighbors to do the actual fieldwork. He managed the farm decisions until a few months preceding his passing in 2012. He was 94 years old.
Today my uncle manages the ~200 acres of cropland around the farmstead which is conventionally-cropped at this time. Steve and I are farming ~3 acres around the farmstead. We have cleared dumptruck-loads of metal and old farm equipment to make space for flowers, medicinals, and perennials. We’re about to erect a high tunnel this Fall to grow year-round vegetables and other tender perennials. We are creating on-farm businesses that enable us to prioritize our quality of life, relationship to the land, and our family.
We are blessed to have this opportunity to build on the existing farm infrastructure and resources and strive for a vision of reconnecting people and their communities with the food and medicine that can be grown in their backyard. While Backyard Beauty began as a cut flower farm with a perennial farm vision, she is now stepping into her perennial and medicinal farm role with an occasional offering of cut flowers. Regardless, she is cultivating the Beauty that is all around and within us… right there in our own Backyards.
We use a biodynamic approach to farming and learn just as much from plants as we do from the books on our shelves. We are more than passionate about supporting a farming movement that does not use harmful chemicals and instead values human and ecosystem wellness.
We are at a critical point in our ability to take care of our selves and the Earth on which we depend. When we begin growing food in tune with the Earth’s best interest, we will reclaim our ability to thrive.