We wanted to talk to farmers who haven’t always made their careers as growers about what influenced them to make the switch to farming full-time. In this series, we’ll ask growers what they were doing before they became farmers and why they decided to make the switch.
Our first farmer is Cathy Payne who owns Broad River Pastures in Elberton, GA with her husband, Jon.
I started teaching elementary education in 1977. However, my childhood passion was to be a veterinarian, because that was the only job I knew that worked with animals. As a child I was discouraged to seek that career because it was not one usually practiced by women. I certainly didn’t consider farming as an option for woman growing up in the 1950s.
Around 2001, my husband, Jon, and I began purchasing some foods directly from local farmers. We ramped that up considerably in 2006 and joined Georgia Organics at the recommendation of our CSA farmer, Lynn Pugh. Eventually we were going to farming conferences, visiting farms, doing farm tours, and buying a larger percentage of our food from local farmers. In 2008 we started a podcast, Our Natural Life, to share what we were learning with others. In 2009, we decided to become producers, though we didn’t really know what form that would take. We bought some land in Elberton. In June, 2010 I retired from teaching and we moved to the farm. I’m finally living my childhood dream, surrounded by animals and dirt, and learning to care for my livestock using holistic methods.
Broad River Pastures is a pasture-based educational farm that specializes in the production of heritage breed livestock and nutrient dense food. They enjoy teaching through internships, homestead classes, conference presentations, and farm tours.