Resolve and Intention: The Foundation of Foxfire Orchards

I'm Nate.

I own and operate Foxfire Orchards in Decatur, Texas. Welcome to my blog, where I'll write about my farm philosophy and goings on at the farm. I like to go pretty deep into things sometimes, but the mundane rituals of our day here matter just as much as the reason, so expect some light content along with the more meaty topics. How and why are tightly bound for me. Being introductory, this one will go pretty deep. Let's get to it.

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Picking strawberries

I wrote recently in my telegram channel about food. Go figure, it's my farm channel, what else would I write about? Specifically I went on about meals and nutrition, and the power of food as an engine of subversive action. We all have our reasons for wanting to farm regeneratively and eat the best food on Earth; mine is partly because there's people that want me and everyone else dependant on them for our livelihoods, health, and diets. That means that it's my responsibility to feed someone else some of the best food on Earth, not just myself. Regardless of your motivation though, good food is something that can unite a lot of people. Everyone should eat well. Regardless of your reasons, it's good to eat like a king.

So with that terminology - eat like a king - and the memory of the most excellent meals I've ever eaten fresh in my mind, I'm introducing my farm blog.

My mission on my farm is to grow the best food I can and sell it to local people that place a high value on feeding their family some of the best food ever grown. Implied in that is my own responsibility to grow some of the best food on Earth. The best food on Earth is not degenerative of the earth; it is grown in harmony with creation. Good food is fed well and good fodder is grown in good soil. Soil health is foundational in my mission.

Three or four years ago, when I first read You Can Farm by Joel Salatin, I determined that farming wasn't for me. I was convinced that I'm more of a homesteader, with no real interest in bringing a profitable product to market. I'm now rereading the same book, looking for guidance after changing my mind and starting a venture. A little over a year ago, it came to me that I might one day want to start a business with all the agricultural and permacultural things that I've learned and done, so I registered my business name. Foxfire Orchards.

Really it's not much of an orchard yet. Half a dozen peach trees, three apple trees, four persimmon trees, a bunch of elders and blackberries, and gobs of mulberry trees make up the understory on my half acre. But I've got big plans for the place. More on that later though. The orchard approaches.

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Chickens by the food forest
The inspiration to farm has come from natural abundance. Setting out to raise my own food has shown me the abundance that a natural healthy system can produce. A lot of my mindset comes from permaculture, which is driven by three ethics:

  1. Care of the earth. You can't survive without a place to survive. Don't strip the earth, don't rape and pillage, don't ruin your place.
  2. Care of people. I could go on about these ethics forever. Basically, this one means "give a damn." Take care of folks. Not all folks, but someone. Have a tribe.
  3. Return of surplus. An often bastardized ethic, this basically means "do something good with abundance." Sell it, compost it, feed it to other parts of your system, share it with people, but don't waste the abundance.

To me, those ethics add up to "start a farm." I'm the type of person that has to do something if I see a problem that I can affect. That started for me as growing food for my family. We don't grow all of our food yet, but what we do grow is abundant. Realistically, I won't be able to grow all of my family's food here; I'm only on half an acre, and you can't put many cows on a suburban half acre. That's where my community comes in. In the last year, most of our meat has been bought from people we know that are farming within a couple hours drive of our home. People that are doing things right and bringing a superior food product to market. Much of our soap and skin care products come from the same network as well. I'm here to tell each and every person that reads my blog here that it's easier to eat like a king when you eat food grown by your friends. It beats the hell out of anything you can buy at the store, and is almost always more cost effective than buying the next best thing at the store.

My own farm products so far are rabbit products and various herbal medicines. Trees, as the "Orchards" bit implies, are a slower game, but we're playing it here. I expect spring 2022 will start some good fruit production to include berries and peaches.

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Chickens on a fence

Part of my conviction in this place is the fact that we live in what's called a food desert. There are too few places producing food here for the people here. Decatur is a rural town with lots of people growing cattle nearby, but the majority of those cattle are sent to the local feed lots and then to stores a thousand miles away. I can drive to three active cattle feed lots that I know of within a half hour of my home farm, and the empty shells of a couple others. Most of the food that's eaten here is imported. The average bite of food in the US travels 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate. I'm here to tell you that doesn't have to be.

Part of my farm and blog mission will be encouraging people to grow food. I told a community group recently that "I'm a part of slow food and little pharma, which means I don't want repeat customers." Wellness and abundance shouldn't be centralized and dependent on main producers like so much of our corporate industry is set up. With every same of meat comes a speech about how easily my customers could raise their own. With every medicine sold, I send seeds for folks to do likewise. I want my people living well, even if it means my business ventures are short-lived. Though I do believe I'll be doing this for a while, as it's definitely more convenient for someone else to grow your food for you.

I could, of course, go on into the ages, and I've actually cut quite a bit from this introduction to save for later posts, but I'm gonna wrap it up there with some foundational pieces of my farming philosophy. Welcome to my farm journey. Follow my telegram channel for short form updates on more day-to-day life on the farm! 💚

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