Alfred Farris of Windy Acres passes

Every now and again we meet folks that change our lives. Carny Farris and her husband Alfred changed the lives of many folks and have defiantly had an impact on our community. 

The first time my family encountered the Farris’s was 30 years ago. My Grandmother, Bea Covington, was a part time real estate agent at Cross Plains Reality. She and Norma Dean Spencer were the only 2 agents in the office. Between the of them there wasn’t much that happened in Roberson County that they didn’t know about. 

They had a soil map in hand and were egger to buy land to start an organic farm in Northern Middle Tennessee.  My Grandmother introduced them the area and the community. 

Mr and Mrs. Farris eventually bought a neighboring farm from Billy Batson that had been previously owned by the Dixon Family. One of the Dixon daughters was my baby sitter.  In our small farming community, we are all connected in one way or another. Our roots run deep so when someone like the Farris’ move into a community you can bet that everyone notices.

I grew up just across the field from the Farris’s farm, Windy Acres.  They were the first organic farmers that I knew. All my life, I have heard comments from other locals about their farming practices.  A lot of folks don’t appreciate the attributes of organic farming. Nonetheless the they stood strong in their beliefs and introduced us all to a new way of farming. 

Windy Acres was the first certified organic grain farm in Tennessee.

Windy Acres is situated along 2 main roads and is surround by road frontage on all sides. You can bet that everyone in this small community has been watching their every move for a long time. The Farris’s have given us all an education in organic farming.   

For the Farris family farming, has been more than a business. It’s been a labor of love. They believe wholeheartedly in the biblically teachings that farmers are the stewards of the land.  They have experimented with different organic production methods over the years in an attempted to create a farm with a legacy that is true to their beliefs and principals. 

I moved away from Cross Plains after I fished undergraduate school.  I moved to Anchorage, Alaska. My grandparents always kept me updated on the local news at least the parts of it that they thought were worth repeating. 

My grandfather had a stroke and I returned home to be with him and my grandmother. He recovered rather quickly and after a few days in the house we all needed a little space. I have always been on the inquisitive side. I frequently jump the fence just to see if there really is grass on the other side. 

I took a walk down Greenwood Road, turned right on Rippy Road and eventfully found myself standing on the back porch of the Farris’s farm house.   I wanted to see for myself what those hippy organic farmers were up too.  The first time that I knocked on the door, Mrs. Carny answered. When I introduced myself as Harold and Bea Covington’s granddaughter, I could see that there was some hesitation in Mrs. Farris’ s willingness to welcome me into her home.  Little did I know that Mr. Farris and my Grandfather had previously had some sort of disagreement about a county road.  My Grandfather and Mr. Farris have always been known for sticking to their guns so I can only image that Mrs. Farris was at least a little uneasy with me knocking on the door without an invitation. I am sure that she though my Granddaddy had sent me over on some sort of spy mission. 

15 years after our first conversation, I can say that without a doubt that they are my friends, my family and I love them dearly. I have learned a lot from them over the years. They have continuously welcomed me into their home and onto their farm.   

Mr. Farris recently passed away. Mrs. Carny is still on the farm and there is some question as to what will happen to Windy Acres. Windy Acres was Mr. Farris’s passion and it is his wish for the farm to be preserved in a farmland trust.   

Time will only tell how things will work out in the future.  Things always change as generations pass on.  Succession planning is difficulty even in the best of situations.  Our rural farming community is quickly becoming a suburb of Nashville. Houses and subdivisions are taking the place of generational family farms. 

Those of us who knew and loved Mr. Farris know that his impact on our community will continue long past his earthy existence.

My heart is with his wife and family at this time of transition. As a new crop of farmers continue to sow the seeds of hope and a love for farming in the future.  

With love and admiration we will remember Alferd Farris.  

To learn more about Organic Farming and land trust from the following organizations –

Agrarian Trust

The Land Trust for Tennessee

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