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Making A Living On A 15-Acre Farm
Sasha and Jimmy Rhea, of Fair Grove, Mo., have launched numerous enterprises that require a lot of hustling to make a living on their 15-acre farm.
    One of their most popular enterprises is a 1-acre strawberry patch, where they run both a U-pick and a pre-pick operation. When berry production is in full swing, visitors can pick their own berries straight from the patch using quart boxes provided by the farm. In addition, Sasha hires a crew of seasonal pickers who fill orders for individuals, as well as wholesale orders for area farm stands, CSA programs, restaurants and other local businesses.
    This year, Rhea Farm’s newest wholesale strawberry customer was a local brewery. Springfield Brewing Company used Rhea Farm’s fresh berries to craft a Strawberry Cream Ale for their summer menu.
    On top of strawberries, Sasha and Jimmy also have a high tunnel for garden production that they put up after receiving a grant from the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Evironmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). There are many other grant opportunities for small producers through EQIP in organic farming, energy innovations, and even forestry. Sasha and Jimmy use their tunnel to produce tomatoes, hanging baskets, and starter plants that they sell to customers through their own farm stand.
    Pastured pork is another enterprise at Rhea Farm. They have a small herd of Berkshire/GOS hogs that are moved around the farm with an electric fence system. They sell pork on the hoof and with many repeat customers.
    To round out their operation, the Rheas’ have a flock of free range hens for eggs and they raise Freedom Ranger broilers, which is a project that Sasha particularly enjoys (www.freedomrangerhatchery.com; ph 717 964-4287). “We typically butcher around 60 a year for ourselves,” she says. Her broiler flock is housed in a portable chicken tractor that is moved to fresh grass twice a day. She hopes to expand the broiler enterprise to be able to sell processed birds to their customers, along with the pork, prduce and berries.
    Everything on Rhea Farm is produced using organic practices - any inputs used for their berries, vegetables or plant starts, such as soil amendments or pest control, are from the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) lists, and their livestock are fed organic and non-GMO feed. Growing food organically requires a great deal of physical labor, Sasha says, but it fits a growing niche market in their area.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Rhea Farm, 1218 State Rd AA, Fair Grove, Missouri, 65648 (Rhea Farm on Facebook).

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2020 - Volume #44, Issue #4