• Voices for Agrarian Life

Early Beginnings by Carrie Ann Fox

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

This day has been marked on our calendar for months – the day for tender annual seed starting – vegetables, herbs, and flowers to be kept inside until after the threat of frost. Remnants of snow linger, but the cold hardy artichokes, lettuces, spinach and cruciferous seedlings (which we started at the end of January) are outdoors today, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Shielded from 24 curious snack-seeking chickens, the young plants are “hardening off” for their approaching transplant date, acclimating to the full sun and breeze.

Soon these seedlings will be relocated to the main garden, which as of this morning, was covered by a blanket of snow. The main garden was the first of many projects my husband Nate and I have initiated in our first year together. Nate and I met online (Oh yes, God even works through internet dating sites!) and we quickly knew we wanted a long future together. He had me at “I keep chickens, too!” That was one year ago, and together we have experienced God’s blessings every step of the way.

Today, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil and marigolds begin their fascinating progression from seed to fruit. The tiny seeds begin in shallow, re-purposed plastic containers on a homemade light shelf in our living room. An unlikely fixture in the standard American living room, this shelf not only provides essential light for seedlings, but allows us to experience every day the miracle of plant propagation – from the comfort of our couch! Neighboring dahlias emerge from tubers and produce enough foliage to grow additional plants from cuttings. These are the early beginnings of the bountiful harvest for which we have prayed.

“Out of His fullness we have received grace in place of grace already given” John 1:16

As I seed, Nate runs errands, picking up needed materials for other slated spring projects – expanding fenced range yard for our hens; preparing the basement mud room to serve as a poultry nursery; constructing a duck pen suitable for six beside the main garden; building a grape trellis and blueberry bed; and putting the finishing touches on the apiary we constructed in preparation for our three new colonies anticipated in several weeks. Did I say he had me at “I’m a carpenter?” Yes, that too! Our neighbors say we are crazy (in the nicest way possible), but our one-acre property is quickly shaping up to be a bustling, beautifully farmscaped “suburban homestead.”

Nate and I work together to accomplish our agreed upon goals – we share a clear vision for our home and life together. Partnership, care, communication and planning are ESSENTIAL to our success. In short time, our loving efforts will result in enjoyable crops. We provide eggs to local families, boxes of fresh vegetables and preserved items to friends and neighbors, and cut flowers to those in need of a brighter day. Partnering this spring with Marvin Chapel United Methodist Church in Berryville, Virginia, we will offer flower bouquets to patients and families at the nearby hospice, and fresh food items to the local food bank.

The Keep & Till has been an ongoing inspiration as we choose the life of agrarian discipleship. Learning from others, sharing successes, and dreaming up next-phase projects is such a fun part of our K&T connection. Great personal growth results continually from our involvement with K&T, as we have gained greater confidence in initiating and executing plans to serve our communities. Each day, we ask for God to guide us in our servitude, provide us with strength in body, sprit, and relationship to do His work. Each day, our prayers are answered.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

Carrie Ann Fox

Carrie Ann lives in Berryville, VA with her husband Nathan and three daughters. They are the proud owners of Riverfox Farm, a small rural plot near the Shenandoah River, where they raise chickens, ducks, honeybees, flowers, fruits and vegetables. Rooted in faith and farming, they operate by the motto, “Grow more to give more!”

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