Ryder Family Farm- Southern Illinois | New farm beginnings, again. The backstory.
We to a big leap of faith, quit our jobs are moved to the the heart of the Shawnee National Forest to follow our dreams of self sufficiency and to make a go of living off the land… Can we help you feed your family?
Southern Illinois, farm, CSA, Goat Milk, Soap, Eggs, meat, local food
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New farm beginnings, again. The backstory.

New farm beginnings, again. The backstory.

Three years ago we set out to follow our dream of farming and moved to a working farm to become farm hands. The opportunity was like a dream come true, a place to stay, an employee wage, the promise of a work to own land/ home deal, land to use for our livestock, mentors… Each day was a new learning experience that added invaluable knowledge to our farming skill set. We got to know the community, forged relationships with customers, learned tidbits about the politics of the area. Our kids made lifelong friends after entering the school system. We got a better idea of where we could see ourselves long-term. We forged wonderful friendships, involved ourselves in the community, started taking steps to build our own family farm with our CSA program, our pasture raised eggs and our handmade goat milk soaps.

Unfortunately, the promise of permanency never came through and seemed like it never would… The writing was on the wall for quite awhile but we persisted, worked hard to remain positive and hopeful… but deep down inside we were betrayed and heartbroken. We risked everything on this pursuit. Nathan quit his job, we sold our house, we took a 2/3rd pay cut, lost our health insurance, moved to a new state where we knew nobody… Everyone said we were crazy but we knew that we couldn’t make it work without risk and change. Seldom do you achieve greatness by settling for the status quo. 

The backstory, without getting into too many particulars-written March 29th, 2017:

You see I’d been harassing Nathan for the last few weeks to bring up the subject of our promised land contract, again with our farm mentors. Before we moved to Southern Illinois there was a drafted contract outlining that we’d earn land in exchange for years worked. It was supposed to be signed and finalized before we moved in but they encouraged us to check out the 1000 acres after we’d moved down and “pick out the land we’d like”. At the point that I’d started really harassing Nathan to work on the signed deal we’d already worked a couple years towards our land deal… but each time over the last three years that he asked to get the contract finalized with specifics about which area would become our and with official signatures, it was put off, ignored or argued about…

It turns out, me harassing Nathan to get the deal signed was making things tense at work, he’d come home less than happy and with no progress on the signed deal and apparently was being mistreated as a result of broaching the contract conversation.

On March 29th 2017 it all came to a head. Nathan came home for lunch, ate, went back to work and shortly after came home again. “What’s up? Did you quit your job or something?” I jokingly asked him as he stomped off his work boots and tossed his coveralls and gloves aside abruptly.”Yep, actually I did.” he tells me.

With Nathan things build up to the point of bursting. Normally it never gets to the breaking point. Most issues are handled before that point but in this case all attempts were unsuccessful. Ultimately, our family and our dream is the number one priority for us so it was time to part ways with our mentors, move off their farm, leave their house and make a start for ourselves. The one-sided partnership was now over. We suspected this would be the way things had to end when we couldn’t get those too-good-to-be-true-promises in writing, we just hoped we were wrong…

Now that the move is complete we are plugging away on the flip side. Our new place is absolutely great. We feel more at home that we ever have… and we are free to pursue our farm dreams which is super great. Severing ties has been rough and continues to be rough but despite it all we’ve managed to receive approval to accept EBT payments for our farm produce and we’ve obtained a wireless EBT processing terminal for us to use at the Golconda Farmer’s Market with our customers. This is a huge deal because the process of gaining approval is littered with red-tape and seems quite impossible for producers and farm market masters. We pursued EBT capabilities because we want EVERYONE to be able to enjoy our market produce.

Local, clean eating shouldn’t be a luxury for some… it’s a right for all.

We also have our Ryder Family Farm garden coming along nicely at our friend’s place. Radish and salad greens are growing like mad for our farm market customers. We think we will have our first CSA baskets ready for delivery in the second or third week of July, weather permitting.

While we are in a rebuilding phase we wanted to focus on some single season farm products that had a short production time. We LOVE fall and have always toyed with the idea of fall garden mums as an offering for our farm… So we’ve spent the last money in our savings account on the supplies for a fall mum operation and we filled close to 1000 large pots in prep for planting the mums over the last two days. Our tiny mum plant starts arrive today for us to transplant. Happy Summer Solstice!

The image below shows the color variations we plan to grow:

We will be accepting pre-orders on the mums from customers but we haven’t set a price yet as a few supplier invoices haven’t been sent to us at this time. When we have the supply expenses all added up we will price the mums for pre-sale and make an announcement. If price isn’t a concern you are welcome to fill out your pre-order info here: https://goo.gl/forms/4lbSp4z3YaEp97VQ2

For now those are the notable updates here. We are so incredibly grateful for our customers and for the continued community support during this transition. We hope you will please come see us at the Golconda Farm Market this Saturday and every Saturday from now till mid September and tell your friends!

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