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Welcome to our 2015 Bootstrap Blog series! We’ve been introducing you to our four Bootstrap Bloggers, who are all in their first or second year of running a farm. Throughout the season, each Bootstrap Blogger will write about the highs and lows, glory moments and curveballs that come with farming.

 

The seed of my farm started in the summer of 2011 while I was watching a documentary that featured a farmer lying on the ground, hanging out with his pigs. I had an epiphany then that changed my life. Before that moment, I had never realized farming could be a viable career option. It spoke to everything that was true in my soul: being in and working with nature to nurture and sustain life responsibly.

At the time, I was working as an elementary special education teacher with my fiancée, but we began looking for a homestead to nourish my agricultural aspirations. We knew we didn’t want to live in a typical, cookie-cutter neighborhood, but finding land was challenging. Let me tell you, two teachers in Texas do not make very much money.

Emaldi_DerekPortrait_cropThrough relentless effort, we found the perfect place: a rectangular, 10-acre parcel of land in the foothills of the Texas Hill Country. Our back acreage is one of the highest spots in our area with 20-mile views. The front part of our property slopes eastward with a gentle valley that cuts through the middle. It also came with a huge barn, where my wife and I got married. I couldn’t care less that most of our friends have bigger houses; we struck gold with our land and the area it resides in.

By February 2012, I was dreaming big and flirting with the idea of quitting my teaching job, but there were bills to pay. I continued to teach, but longed to farm. Everyday, it’s all I thought about. I immersed myself in whatever knowledge I could acquire. I worked at a farm during the summer, went to seminars, read everything farm related, meanwhile experimenting in farm projects at home. Before the 2013-2014 school year, I decided to save as much money as I could because this was it: I was quitting my job as a teacher and following my dreams.

In the Summer of 2014, I notified my school about my resignation, a very scary but proud moment in my life, and entered my first true year of being a farmer.

Currently, I’m trying to narrow down what I can handle by myself and what will make me a decent profit. I have a pastured poultry operation where I raise broilers and laying hens, an orchard of about 35 trees, and a half-acre vegetable plot. I also have a greenhouse that encompasses my aquaponics setup with 50 tilapia. Through a recently awarded grant for young farmers from the state of Texas, I have money to purchase pigs and cows, which will be here by early summer.

I spend long, backbreaking days in the Texas sun, but I couldn’t ask for a better life. I hope to continue as a steward of the earth and a provider to my family and community.

Follow Emadi Acres Farm on Facebook.

Comments
2 Responses to “Bootstrap at Emadi Acres Farm – Meet Derek”
  1. Rosie says:

    Derek, –if you are reading these comments– Your farm sounds badass. Good for you! If I lived in Texas, I’d be all about your CSA.

    I wanted to ask you a few question since you are a part of this ‘Bootstrap’ program, . You see, I have the same dream, and I often see stories of folks who, like yourself, bought property, saved up, quit their jobs and started farming (although obviously in a more complicated way than that). I never hear specifics on the financial front though. I completely understand if you don’t want to talk about your finances here, but I’m wondering…
    How did you buy your property initially? And what’s your monthly mortgage payment now?
    How much money did you save up before you made the final plunge?
    Does your wife still work and does her income partially support the farm?
    Do you have any student loans or debt to worry about?

    Anyhow, I will enjoy following your story!

  2. Chelsey Simpson says:

    Hi Rosie! Derek and the other Bootstrappers will be talking about many of these topics in future posts, so stay tuned!

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