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

Share your Story

One of the best parts about sharing local stories is getting letters and comments from the locals. Over the last several months, we have gotten several emails and hand written letters from people that remember the old times. We would love to hear your stories too.

 Dear Sir/Madame, 

I’m replying out of curiousity and the name Rabbit Circle. It reminds me of the back 60 acres of Banie Robertson’s farm, that was called Rabbit Ranch.    I believe they are descendants of the original Robertsons of the County, just around the road from where you turn off at the Tractor on the Pole. I’m not sure, but I know that they ran(farmed), the old Washington Farm in Cedar Hill area. My Mother did a lot of genealogy research in the 70’s. She’s got a ton of paperwork going to waste on that, but I know she took a lot to the Archives in Nashville years ago.    This may not mean a thing to you, but I hope that all that paperwork did get recorded. I don’t know what to do with these Filing Cabinets full of local Cemetery recordings.    Enough of my rambling. Just thought I’d say Thank You, for bringing old things to Life again.

J. Brent Barbee

Dear Jennifer,

I read your article in today’s Nashville Tennesseean. I used to live on Guthrie Rd. I lived there from 1960-1967. It was called Young Road. Me and my parents lived in the over 100 year old house that belong to the Young family. My father bought the farm from C.L. Porter who lived near Nashville, TN. He bought it from the east of Claud Benton who killed himself in a barn across the road. I went to school at Cross Plains Tn from 1960 to 1967. Is that the farm where you live? You said something in the paper about your Grandpa Covington. I went to school with a Dale Covington I enjoyed reading your article. It brough back Memories of when I lived there. I would like to hear from you if you care to write.

Sincerely Yours,

Dwight L. Alford

Trator on a Pole

Located on Highway 431 between Springfield, Tn and Adairville, KY there is on old red belly Ford tractor on a pole. Gene Barbee put the tractor on the pole up sometime in the 1960s. He sold used farm equipment at his farm. The tractor on the pole was marketing magic. It’s genius out lasted his farm equipment business. Folks still use the tractor on a pole as a reference point.

So you want them to move here?

old barn

Just thirty minutes beyond the bright lights and bustle of Broadway, there’s a whole other side of Nashville that many people never see. It’s a place steeped in local lore and rooted in history, where backroads lead the way  through stories filled fields and a cast of colorful characters. This is a side of Nashville that takes you out of the city and transports you back in time to experience the legacy of rural America, and its connection to everything from the food on our plates to the dye in our jeans. 

Rabbit Circle Tours specializes in custom rural farm tours. The adventure begins with one of our locally born and grown guides picking your VIP up in town. From there, we head off on a tour of the countryside surrounding Nashville with stops in rural communities such as Cross Plains, Springfield, Joelton, Ashland City, Gallatin and Franklin.

Along the way, we will introduce them to locals and grab lunch at one of our favorite locally-owned restaurants. From snacking on sun-ripened tomatoes straight off the vine to a meet-and-greet with favorite farm animals, each tour is unique and customized to the interest of our guests. 

Broadway may boast the highest volume of Nashville tourists, but a Rabbit Circle custom farm tour is the experience that nobody ever forgets. Learn more and book your tour at https://rabbitcircle.com/

There is a lot to see beyond the city limit signs.

Mike, Moo 2 U Dairy

Planning a trip to the southern USA? There a few things that you should know for sure: 

There is a lot to see beyond the city limit signs. The history and culture of the south was created from the dirt and tears of rural farmers. You can’t visit a dirt road, meet a farmer or really know America until you visit the rural countryside. 

Macaroni and cheese is a vegetable. If you are lucky enough to find a locally-owned “meat and 3” restaurant, there will be a long list of side dishes to choose from (and a lot of dirty farm trucks in the parking lot). A meat and 3 restaurant is generally served cafeteria style. You choose your meal from a list of meats and vegetables. one meat, three vegetables, a roll or cornbread and tea. Don’t be confused when you see mac & cheese listed along with all the other sides. In the south, mac and cheese is a vegetable, salads are not.  

The tea will be sweetened black tea with a twist of lemon. Country folks take pride in their sweet tea. It is often so sweet that you can stand a spoon up in the glass. If you order unsweetened tea, it’s a sure giveaway that you aren’t local or you’re on a diet. 

 If you want to meet a real southern farmer, you should be introduced to them by a local at the meat and 3. Farmers are generally shy with foreigners. Foreigners are recognized by the locals as anyone that drinks unsweetened tea, thinks mac and cheese is just a side dish and lives north of Bowling Green, Kentucky. 

Whiskey and moonshine are grown on a farm.  If you visit a distillery, you are only seeing part of the picture. To better understand the cultural significance, you have to visit a cornfield in August.  If you are foreigner traveling in the south, it’s best to visit a farm with a local and bring your own glass. You will likely be invited to sit and sip on a glass of our favorite local beverage. Tea and whisky are the same color, but you’ll have to join us for an afternoon to find out what’s really in our glass. 

Book a farm tour with a local here…  www.RabbitCirlce.com

Christmas from the Farm

The old is new again when it comes to finding the perfect local Christmas gift. If you have ever been one a farm tour with Rabbit Circle you know how proud we are of our farmers. If you have been good, you are likely to find a bottle of wine, a pair of jeans, a hemp flower and cigar under your tree. If you have been naughty, I know where to find a bundle of switches, my Daddy has been pruning his apple trees and there is a fresh stack. 

Cherry Wine form Sumner Crest Winery

Cherry Wine , Sumner Crest Winery

If you have never heard of Orlinda Tennessee, you are missing out. Orlinda is officially the sunniest spot in Tennessee or at least that’s what it says on the city limits sign. Sumner Crest Winey has a wonderfully tart Cherry Wine that will remind you of the bright summer sun.  

Cigars from Avanti 

Avanti Cigars

Robertson Country Tennessee is the dark fired tobacco capital of the world.  The tobacco grown in the black patch region of southern Kentucky and middle Tennessee has long been sought after for its wonderfully smoky aroma. If you have ever been to the region in the fall you are sure to have caught a wif of the smoking barns.   Form me it the smell of home and tradition. 

Jeans dyed with Tennessee Indigo  

Stay Creek Colors

Sarah Bellos from Stony Creek Colors has inspired local farmers to growing something different and wonderful. Indigo is a plant based natural dye that had been in use for centuries. Support our local farms buy purchasing denim dyed with Tennessee grown Indigo 

Hemp Flowers

28 % CBD

Everyone is talking about where to find best the locally grown hemp in Tennessee.  White’s Family Farm grew hemp that contains 28% CBD.  If you are interested in a few flowers or 10,000 lbs give them a call. Its legal for Santa to deliver it across American in a flat rate postage box from USPS. 

Switches from Shade Tree Farm and Orchard

Switches

A family tradition for the naughty kids on your list. A fresh bundle of apple branches from Shade Tree Farm and Orchard.

100 Years- What’s Changed

Newspaper clipping 1930

I found this newspaper clipping while going through my Granny Head’s scrapbook. It dates from about 1930. Pictured is my Great Grandfather Raymond Head and his 4 children.

The caption under the first photos reads: ” A recently-bought flock of Montana ewes on the farm of Raymond Head, near Springfield, is inspected by county Agent Harmon Jones and Mr Heads son Robert. The sheep are expected to play a big part in making up the loss caused by dealing dark fired tobacco market;”

2019 is the first year that there will be an industrial hemp crop in Tennessee. A recent article in the Tennessean reads ” Faced with the decreasing profitability of tobacco and an expanding market of hemp products, some of Tennessee’s longtime tobacco farmers are abandoning the state’s traditional cash crop and embracing a lucrative but largely uncharted hemp industry.”

Another story from Forbes online reads. “How Hemp Is Giving Renewed Life To America’s Tobacco Farmers”

It seems as though there is an ongoing conversation with Black Patch tobacco farmers that’s lasted for well over 100 years. What will be the next big crop that replaces the income from tobacco?

Robertson County has a long proud history

Aunt Fannie Hart

Mary Frances Barbee Was born October 30 1844. She was 73 years, 3 months and 2 days old at the time of her death, February 1, 1918. She was a consistent member of Corinth Church for more than 40 years. 

She was married to N.H. Hart, June 30, 1962. Of this union were born 11 children. Seven sons and 4 daughters, all now living, grown, married, settled members of the church. 

On February 2, a short funeral service was conducted at the home by her pastor, Reverend Whitefield and concluded at the grave in the old Hart graveyard, where she was laid to rest. It was a touching and beautiful sight to watch six of her stalwart sons gently lower the lifeless body of their mother to the grave. She had lived to a good old age and died as she had lived, loved and honored by all who knew her. This is a short history of a good woman that has paid the last debt and gone to her reward. 

I was asked to assist the preacher in the funeral service, but on account of the inclement weather did not get there, so will write about what I should have said, not as an obituary, but as a small tribute to her memory. 

More that 70 years ago when I was not much more than a babe and about the time she was born, my father moved to but a little more than a mile from her father’s home. Here a real and pleasant acquaintance began that has lasted all these years since. She was a great favorite in school, and in fact with all who knew her. 

Nearly 40 years ago I settled as a doctor in sight of her home. Some of her children had grown up and others were unborn. I watched the younger children grow up and attended any of them when sick and for almost all these years was the family physician, a relation, perhaps next the preacher, the most sacred. 

A 3rdof a century ago, when I married her niece, who loved her almost as she loved her own mother, she became to me “Aunt Fannie” and I reverenced her almost as much as much as did my own dear aunts that went to their homes many years ago. There were 3 traits in Aunt Fannie’s character that I wish to mention her as predominating more I think than in any person I have known. They were industry, unselfishness, and appreciation. She always wanted to be doing something, wanted to be at work and to show her unselfishness at work for someone else. 

First, of course, it was her family, her children; next her relations then her neighbors. I wish I could know how many of those have some little piece of her handwork as a keepsake, that they will now appreciate more now that she is gone. It mattered not how small and insignificant the present from her husband, children relatives or neighbors she showed keen appreciation of her countenance. Can you wonder that she loved everybody? Because everybody loved her. All these years I have known her I can call to mind now word about her but in praise. 

She was the youngest daughter of a large family and survived them all except one brother, the youngest child of the family, who though living in a distant state, came often to see sister Fannie whom he adored. 

A good woman has died, and may Heaven’s Blessings rest on those left behind. 

Oak Lawn, Feb 2 1918 H.S.