By Shelly Maynard
The United States is home to almost two million farms. Approximately 80% of these farms are considered small and are family-owned. Fifteen minutes from downtown Lynchburg via TN-129W, our community has access to one of these small farms to purchase organic, seasonal produce, meat, and an endless supply of education on healthy alternatives for nutrition. Your scenic drive to and from the farm will be enjoyable and fruitful beyond all your expectations.
Large scale farms are using chemicals to speed up growth of food to meet public demands. This process is poisoning our soils and waters, which ultimately weaken our communities. The Waid Family – Jessica, Matt, Hayden, Henry, Harvey, and Huck – is helping put a stop to this with their organic farm and contributing to a strong, sustainable local economy for our surrounding communities.
Matt and Jessica Waid were once like a lot of us in how they did not consider how the food was grown and processed that they were putting into their bodies. When their son, Henry, began experiencing food allergy symptoms, she ventured into research on growing healthier food. The family had a small garden for themselves, but within a short time, they discovered that they were able to offer their goods to family and friends. Today, they have a full, thriving store that came to light during one of the darkest times of our lives – the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Through a tour of their farm, I discovered a lot of unique methods for growing food and maximizing the space that you have. For example, the Waids plant turnips and radishes underneath their pepper plants. They do not use chemicals or pesticides to rid the crops of pests and weeds and use natural cultivation practices that enrich the soil for higher-quality, healthier crops.
Watching the Waid family in action is mesmerizing. Matt works up to 60 hours per week outside of the home and Jessica also homeschools her children, while also tending to a toddler and newborn! Both stated that the farm does not feel like work to them. It is simply the way they live and would not want to do it any other way. As a former member of Moore County’s FFA program, Matt stated that he would have loved to have Mr. Tommy Beavers, former MCHS teacher and FFA sponsor, see what he has created with his wife at Big Oak Farm. It is a farm that Mr. Beavers, along with the rest of our community, can be proud of.
In addition to their own produce, Jessica and Matt have teamed up with other local farmers to help offer a larger variety of products for their customers, such as Buckley Farm, located in Fayetteville, TN. Seasonally, you will find a variety of organic produce, baked goods, frozen treats, meat, eggs, honey, seasonings, BBQ sauces, and more.
Jessica is passionate about educating the community as much as she is on providing healthy produce. The farm has hosted an Easter egg hunt and more recently, a 4th of July fireworks show, to promote community fellowship. Many of their customers will stop in for advice about bugs and pests in their own gardens. For Jessica, Big Oak Farm is more than a store – it is a valuable resource for health and nutrition education. She wants all of us to learn the importance of the foods we are putting on the table for our families.
Because of the organic methods used on the farm, you will not always find certain products available. Eating seasonally means only consuming produce that is harvested during the same time that you consume them. Before industrialized agriculture and big grocery stores, eating seasonally was the norm. There was no other choice than to grow your own vegetables and eat the crops when they were ready to be harvested. Now you can get almost any fruits and vegetables year-round but comes with a few sacrifices.
Seasonal produce contains the highest amount of nutrients because they were harvested recently and are fresh. It will be more enjoyable to consume because of the flavor. Freshness also contributes to the flavors. Keeping the produce fresh while being shipped across the country is nearly impossible without freezing or picking early to prevent being overripe by the time it arrives at your local grocery store.
Eating seasonal produce is best done by buying through local farmers and farmers markets. This puts money into the local economy and creates more jobs. It also allows you to be creative with your foods and enjoy a variety. Focusing on foods that are in season might force you to try new foods you never heard of before. Not only will eating seasonally be better for your health, have better flavor and be more affordable it will also be fun and exciting. You can find more information about what produce is in season by visiting Big Oak Farm or following their Facebook page to see what is on the shelves!
Take your family on a scenic drive to Big Oak Farm, located at 5414 Charity Road, Petersburg, TN. The store is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 am to 3 pm and Sundays from 12 pm to 3 pm.