We are Kyle & Athena and our crew of senior rescue dogs, a decent sized army of beneficial insects, local wildlife and two young kids!
We started our journey in 2015 as a somewhat typical "white-collar" career family (Kyle as an Engineer and Athena as a Nurse) when we purchased a small 750 sq ft home just outside of downtown Kansas City on a quarter acre. The entire property was 1/4 acre and had 3 raised garden beds and a space for chickens.
On this tiny piece of precious urban land we began exploring a mutual passion for more life together (and less time away in an office), more connection to the rhythms and seasons of nature, and more simplified living. This home nurtured in us a pursuit of learning simple food growing skills and other "homesteading skills" and ultimately seeded the start of our considering growing food on a community-scale together as a family.
In 2018 we moved our family to the Asheville area of North Carolina to pursue more access to nature and hopefully, eventually, more land to grow as much of our own food as possible...with maybe even enough to share with others!
In 2019 we were given the opportunity to begin our journey of learning to grow food on a larger scale than "backyard gardening". We joined a local team in stewarding 1 acre of a 40+ year old organic farm on the property of JuneBug Retro Resort in Weaverville, NC. The owners of the property (who were not farmers but supportive of preserving farmland) had initiated a trial year for the farm and needed staff to help them "see what could grow" on a portion of the land previously designated as unusable.
Kyle was hired along with two other generous souls as paid staff farmers. About half-way through the growing season the owners realized it was too costly for them (and a bit too much work, as non-farmers who had not necessarily made a business plan to start a fully functioning farm!) and chose to discontinue the project. However, they offered for Kyle and I to continue to steward the project at our own cost (unpaid and able to keep the profits). We took them up on the offer as an opportunity to immersivity learn as much as we could. The other employees found other employment which effectively made Kyle and I the farm and project managers...having never run a farm on any scale before.
Talk about learning curve!
We knew it would be prudent to continue to learn as much as possible as long as we had access to this land. Going into 2020 the property owners offered us a short-term lease and entrusted farmland to us as farmers as we started to grow our own farm business. We also welcomed our second daughter right at the start of this 2020 growing season.
We literally spent hundreds of hours planning this first year of farming. We just closed the 2020 growing season at the time of this writing. We successfully grew enough food for a 25 person CSA and two Asheville Farmer's Markets, managed a 5 person work-trade CSA and made it through starting a farm during COVID all while raising two young children and driving 30 minutes back and forth to the farm (as we could not live on the property where we farmed). All of this gave us SO much to learn from. The biggest lesson being that we must live on the same property we live on if we are going to be good parents to our children!
We had a tremendously rewarding season this year with our CSA members and community members and are so thankful for all of them! This coming growing season of 2021 we are taking the year off of growing commercially and returning to "backyard growing" in order to re-group as a family. Athena continues to work as a home health nurse which a big passion of hers and will help us save for whatever is next. We are completing a local Organic Growers' School Year-Long Farmer Training program where we will get necessary education on the business side of growing food.
As we look toward the future we see a real possibility that we may end up in a Tiny House in the near future. We have a developing vision for a community built around growing food and living in "Tiny Houses". We envision a community where we can grow our family and also continue to pursue our growing of food alongside others, working alongside our community members and growing closer in this pursuit. We will see how it all works out!
<Trusting and Always Learning>
You can read more about our journey and how we got to where we are by reading our Journal Entrees or keep updated by following us on Instagram. We sincerely hope you will find inspiration here for your own families, homesteads, small-scale farms, gardens & every-day lives!
(***Note: we have taken some recent time and space away from social media at the end of the 2020 growing season here to go inward as a family, rest our souls and refocus on each other. We are still around, just a little more "hibernating"! We will still see you all around.)
From Our Homestead to Yours!
<Kyle & Athena>
We are the "Bird" (Athena) and the "Beasts" (Kyle & all the other beasts in our lives) of
The Bird & The Beasts' Farmstead.
What do we mean by "Plant-Based Farming & Homesteading"?
This means we Eat, Live & Grow with respect for all life as our primary filter.
We farm and live our lives without the typical dependence on supplementing our soil, nutrition or
lifestyles with animal products or by-products.