Forest Grove Farm is a big hunk of land in Washington County, Georgia. That’s where Lyle Lansdell (right) keeps a small herd of sheep, and grows vegetables on a limited scale, because “I don’t have a lot of help.” She sells at Greenway Market in Milledgeville, Mulberry Market in Macon, and the Sandersville Farmer’s Market on the Square.
“I was in North Carolina working, and I planned to come back to Georgia to ‘save my family farm,’” Lansdell says. “I wanted to know what was going on in terms of organic agriculture in the state. I actually started coming to the Georgia Organics conference back in 2004, and it’s the big treat of the year.”
Perhaps most importantly though, Lyle is concerned with what will happen to her land once she’s gone. Her dream is for it to be used as an incubator farm for beginning farmers to use. And she’s ready to talk about it! Keep reading.
Lansdell recently told us about the origins of her passion for organic farming, and the importance of a united movement.
Why do you farm organically?
My great-great grandfather, great grandfather, and grandfather were all farmers. It’s in my blood. During my great grandfather’s time, synthetic pesticides were introduced. He died at 58 from kidney failure, and sometimes I wonder if he died from exposure to what he was using.
I’m also very worried about climate change and pollution. We need to take care of our land, and I’m working on that with my animals and working toward recycling nutrients back into my vegetables. I’m an only child – and nobody cares about this place but me. I feel responsible for it, and I want to do the right thing with it.
Why is Georgia Organics important to you?
At the conference every year, other farmers and I love seeing each other, learning, and we definitely enjoy socializing at the meals. I always learn a ton there — it’s so wonderful to be with people who are of like mind. One year, I gave some feedback about wanting to have a workshop on raising sheep, and then the next year they offered it, so I really appreciated that. Another year, I attended a workshop and learned about this great grazing crop for livestock that helps keep internal parasites down. I always feel like I can learn a lot at the conference. And outside of the conference, the workshops around the state have also been really great.
What are your dreams?
I’m worried about what’s going to happen to this farm after I die, so I want to find a way to create an incubator farm for young organic farmers on my land. I’m willing to lease five acres or more to each of several parties who want to farm, at a low rate. I’d love to start with a couple of young people to build a farming community. Later, if they want to stay long-term, there can be an option to buy. I can share my equipment, and there’s water available for drip irrigation. If you’re interested, please email me [firstname.lastname@example.org]!