Two Farms One Dream
In the Winter of 2017 two best friends fell in love. We shared long time dreams, passions, goals, the realization of why our paths had crossed, and a feeling deep inside that we were meant to share this life together. This sent us on a path that we have never looked back on. Love is powerful, and love when channeled into caring and nurturing more than just ourselves is even more powerful. This was the passion we shared, aspiring Earth stewards longing to care for Mother Nature on a deeper level. Amber and Harry wanted to escape the caught up hussle and bussle and indeed "Return To Nature".
We started our journey together by heading up North to a quaint town in the mountains of upstate New York, Amber's hometown. Middleburgh is a beautiful town with a real roots community and a sense of what it means to survive. This was where we learned that to survive (and thrive) it takes a certain sense of community and involvement, an important permaculture concept. We farmed a section of Amber's Father's land that has been in the family since the 1700s. We stayed from the first day of Spring till late in October that year. We built an amazing community of people who taught us values almost lost in time and space, and made amazing memories. A few weeks before we left to come back to Florida, Amber 22 years old and Harry 24 got engaged.
On our trip back South we stopped along the way in various towns and cities, noticing how in the cities people seemed more distant as a community even though they were actually living closer than those in rural communities. This reminded us of the importance of the connection with nature, where our food, water, and air come from and go to in the end. We couldn't wait to arrive at our piece of rural, North Florida paradise and begin cultivating the land. This is when we realized it was not going to be so simple. See, in New York, Amber and her family had lived there a long time, having already built a strong community and abundance of resources. This was not our situation back South. We grew all we could and did all the work we could to build things up here on the farm in Bronson, Fl but we were always struggling. We stayed from November all the way to late April of 2018. One year behind us, a little wiser and much more resilient, we went back to upstate New York to be married in July.
This time was a little different for us as the goal was different, union. We were enjoying ourselves working, farming, and gearing up to get married. July 14, 2018 we said "I do" on a stage set so beautifully on the side of a mountain, pastures in the background, and family and friends all around, including a very special guest Pato Banton to set the mood. In the blink of an eye it was over. It was like a dream, beautiful, like a fairy tale. Life together was beginning.
We stayed til mid October that year, enjoying our friends and community, and exploring the beauty the area had to offer. Waterfalls all around, creeks, mountains, valleys, rivers, and medicinal herb foraging. It is a blessing to call Middleburgh one of our homes. We headed back South.
This time things were different, the whole vibe. It's as if we knew our whole lives were about to change. So, the first year here in Florida wasn't all bad, we had met some wonderful people indeed and started growing our community. In fact, one of our biggest supporters and best friend Jen Speedy of Siembra farm sticks out the most. In a time when we really needed it she told us about volunteering at their farm and we went every week, growing community and work-trading for veggies to feed ourselves. This time when we came back to FL we continued that tradition and knew that for ourselves we wanted something people could be a part of while providing something for our community. We didn't know just what that was.
We had the space but no infrastructure, the land but no fertility yet, the time but not the resources,. We weren't giving up. In the Spring of the next year, 2019, we did our first market as Two Farms, One Dream, a startup farmstead. We sold upcycled goods and crafts we made from our land at Haile Farmers Market.
In the summer of 2019 we had a whole lot to reflect on, things were not easy for us. We had learned many things to make life easy on the homestead, but we had little money or resources. In the late winter our car had caught on fire leaving us without a vehicle. Living rurally, this was a constant struggle. We later got our little red Tacoma, Rex. Having a truck is truly what allowed us to really farm and get ourselves out in the community doing our work.
After just months of vending at the market, we started thinking deeper and deeper about what it was we as a farm were meant to do. Amber had started teaching classes on pine needle basketry in small groups at local farms and festivals such as the Swallowtail Farm Festival. This brought us more community.
Harry had been working with a local compost program based in downtown Gainesville, Fl called Beaten Path, owned by a very skilled and intelligent man by the name of Stephan Barron. At this time, we were putting up our first green house and putting seeds in the ground, but things weren't growing as big and beautifually as we knew they could. We knew what our problem was, the soil. It lacked life and organic matter. Going back to our roots, we thought about how we could get healthy topsoil. The answer was to start designing our very own compost program at Haile Farmers Market.
The program started out very simple. It was free. You signed up, got a bucket, and brought it by every week and received a new clean one. Soon we needed more buckets and had to buy them, so we began charging the price of the bucket as a deposit. The amount of buckets each week grew, No longer could this service be free. We were spending hours on this project each week composting, cleaning buckets, and turning piles. We then began our Seasonal CSC program where members signed up by the season and paid a fee that covered materials and a little room for us to invest into the program further.This became steady and productive, more and more people were signing up and diverting food waste, right on our farm! A dream come true!
July 14th, 2019 was our one year anniversary, a few weeks later our entire lives changed and we found out we were going to have a baby.
We immediately started trying to find jobs somewhere that would provide a stable income to help pay the bills that come with having a baby. Amber started a job as a paraprofessional at Bronson Middle School and Harry landed a job at a pizzeria in Tioga, Blue Highway. Shortly after learning of their value to be environmentally responsible, we had to get them on board for our program! It took no convincing, they were on, becoming our first run at a commercial amount of compost coming in each week. We were bringing in 55 gallons of food waste a week from one restaurant alone, and we knew that we had to get more businesses on board, but we weren't ready yet as we had a lot on our table gearing up for parenthood.
That year our road flooded like we had never seen it flood before, it made our farm almost impossible to reach by vehicle. We began questioning everything and almost gave up. We both worked the whole year. Around Thanksgiving that year, Harry began to train as a manager, and had his first solo shift by New Years Eve of 2019. Just 4 months away from our due date, things were getting real but we never gave up.
Amber began making herbal products inspired by her herbalist classes and holistic nutrition classes that she took in her spare time. Many of her products were geared toward pregnant women, mothers to be, and babies. She started selling them at the farmers market booth. This was the beginning of Amber Rose Apothecary. Her products became a hit and she was hooked on making more. The compost business was growing at the market and things were good on the farm. At work, life was stable and fine.
March 2020, 1 month away from the due date of a beautiful baby boy, we began hearing word of a global pandemic. Shortly after Harry was laid off, he spent his days on the farm, not in a restaurant, awaiting our newborn son. We continued at the farmers market, as that was our safety net and our service to the community, but as things heated up we stopped going to the market.
April 17, 2020 we welcomed Wave Falcon Sanchez, our beautiful baby boy into the world! Our lives were changed forever, we were parents now. It became totally about Wave, the next generation. A few weeks after Wave was born Harry began back at market, only doing the compost program. There was no sign of unemployment and we had to keep moving forward. This was around the time of the birth of our Home Pick Up Service. People were not coming to the market like they used to, but we couldn't stop diverting food waste! Many of our existing members switched over and are still using our service today.
A few months after Wave was born, he was right beside us at the market every Saturday. This place being like a home to us, it made sense to grow what we had been doing.
These days you'll find us at the market with 2 booths side by side. We are continuing our tradition of being a full circle operation. Harry makes the soil with food waste, we grow the herbs in our soil, and Amber makes herbal products for the families of our community. In Spring and Summer you can find us at the market with a variety of herbal plants as well, all grown on our farm in our licensed nursery.
Today we are Two Farms, One Dream LLC. and offer our original market program, Home Pick Ups, and Commercial Pick Ups, along with Herbal Products and Plants. Our practice is Permaculture and that's the Dream!
Peace, Love, Permaculture!
Our goals for the future are simple, grow our farm, support our family, serve the community, and divert more food waste. We would like to see our programs go back to their roots and become free to the community. This would involve local action and organization. The city of Gainesville announced they would like to be waste free in the future. They have already started a small pilot program with Beaten Path Compost in the Downtown area. TFOD would one day like to join in the efforts of helping divert food waste on a larger scale with the help of our community. You can help us in these efforts by signing up to start diverting your food waste today! Every sign up makes a difference and allows us to grow and reach more people.
Stop by and say "Hello" any Saturday at the Haile Farmers Market and learn more about our efforts and goals, we love to connect with our community!