Homesteading has matured during the public health emergency.
The escape to rural farms has propagated among city dwellers and Generation Z. The appeal: escaping urban anxiety and structural constraints.
Caldwell County’s Trimble Farms illustrates to new and old homesteaders and farmers how to diversify the land, return a profit and remain sustainable.
Ben and Lisa Trimble, and their two children, own and operate their local farm.
Ben inherited the land from his parents, which he now tends to for joy and earnings. Lisa led the Caldwell County Farmer’s Market this year. Both have experience and a passion for farming sustainability.
They are occupied with other full-time work besides farming. Ben is a Registered Nurse at Caldwell Medical Center, and Lisa is an educator in Lyon County.
The lifestyle change isn’t for everyone, though.
“I just need (people) to know the commitment that’s involved in this,” Lisa said. “It takes over your world, it takes over your life.”
Dee Heimgartner and Samantha Anderson were two University of Kentucky extension agents who helped organize the Small and Diversified Farm Series Thursday evening. They explained the event is designed to provide examples of small farm enterprises, crop diversification and farm ingenuity.
Created in spring 2021, the series has been hosted monthly since its inception.
Heimgartner and Anderson explained their group in western Kentucky has found that participants and extension clients drive the programming and make it a success. The series allows extension agents and associates to gain local farming knowledge from the producer perspective.
Caldwell County Cooperative Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources Shane M. Bogle advised Ben and Lisa to share their farm life with others and get involved in the UK series.
During the summer, Bogle explained to Lisa the Homesteading for Profit event was an excellent opportunity to highlight Trimble Farms and Caldwell County farmers.
“Basically it’s hobby farmers,” Lisa said. “People like Ben and I who were interested in growing and producing things.
“We didn’t start this big. We like gardening. We’ve always had a garden.”
Ben and Lisa have scaled up and now sell their fares at the farmer’s market and their roadside stand. The vegetable stand opened in the summer of 2017. After that, a state grant enabled Ben and Lisa to purchase a second greenhouse to expand crop production. Four acres of farmland sit on roughly 70 acres of Trimble property.
Lisa explained her daughter is moving out and endeavoring into higher education. Upon her graduation from Caldwell County High School next year, the Trimble’s workforce is going to diminish. The hope is that they can sustain production at the current rate.
“As far as small farms, you need to find a niche and expand with it,” Ben told attendees. “If you focus on one product, you’re liable to get into trouble somewhere along the way.
“Get something that you’re known for, so people can relate to you.”
Ben said the biggest attribute is social media. Facebook remains the primary marketing tool for Trimble Farms. He explained it extinguished initial marketing concerns and doubt, especially with the farm’s proximity to the city’s center and residential neighborhoods.
The farm has broadened production by keeping livestock, planting and harvesting fruit and vegetables and engaging in local economic activity.
What’s important though, Ben said, is to keep an open mind, not limit seed inventory and consistently diversify crop production to guarantee steady consumer demand.