'Agripreneurs' keep things growing at Round the Bend Farm
Round the Bend Farm’s monthly Open Farm Days are not only about visiting the farm and have some fun — it's also the perfect time to meet the hard-working "agripreneurs" who operate their businesses at the non-profit working farm with a focus on education and promoting local, natural agriculture.
The farm produces crops, honey, herbs, livestock, and eggs in a way that focuses on being low-waste and faithful to nature, and regularly host field trips, high school interns, and a class for young children.
The farm is also home to four “agripreneurs:” people who run small businesses on the farm’s land in exchange for maintaining the land and helping out with overall farm operations. As part of July 22’s Open Farm Day festivities, they met with guests and introduced their businesses.
Nilsa Garcia-Rey grows herbs and medicinal plants at the farm for her company, Nilsa’s Herbs and Botanicals. She started her business three years ago, after working with Ashley Brister, who grows vegetables.
“There was a neglected herb garden, and I asked if I could take it on,” Garcia-Rey said. “This came out of the growing.”
Eventually, she had enough to share, and began selling herbs, teas, and tinctures, which she makes herself.
Ashley Brister, owner of Ashley’s Produce, is now in her fifth season at the farm, although she has been farming for 14 years. Her business is mostly supported through Community Supported Agriculture, which allows customers to buy a portion of her harvest in advance.
The farm’s agripreneur program allows her to work on the land, and also provides her with a number of tools and a greenhouse, effectively removing many of the barriers that make it difficult for people to start their own farms.
Brister said that her desire to farm was “the evolution of an environmental ethic,” and she values the educational aspect of the farm.
The other agripreneurs are Geoff Kinder, the owner of Paradox Farms, a meat, hay, and goatscaping company, and Lucy Tabit, who owns Hana’s Honey.
Nate Sander, who manages the education work at the farm, led a tour of the property, including the tiny houses where some of the staff live, the herb and vegetable gardens, and introduced visitors to the goats, pigs, and two great pyrenees dogs who live at the farm.
He also led visitors through the farm’s new buildings: a library and office space, a building with two kitchens and a dining area, and a large open room used for any number of events.
The buildings, constructed largely by Tyler See, the farm’s resident builder, are built as much as possible with recycled and sustainably sourced materials, and are designed to be low-impact through features like composting toilets, and a solar energy system that produces enough energy to power the entire farm.
Round the Bend Farm’s next Open Farm Day will be on August 18.