Closing the door to one year and stepping over the threshold into a new one is refreshing in a lot of ways- it gives a chance for pause and reflection, a chance to see the highs and lows of the year past and what might be done differently in the upcoming one.
For Herb Mountain Farm, 2018 was a year of manifestation. A vision that Hart and I had been working on since 2013 finally came into being. It was the Chinese Year of the Dog—when stability, loyalty and integrity supposedly hold the prevailing winds.
It started with us trying to secure a loan to finish the project and by February, one was underway with Mountain BizWorks, who graciously walked us through creating a business plan and setting foundations for a successful business. We are ever grateful to Mountain BizWorks for their faith in what we wanted to do and for giving us a large loan to complete the last leg!
In March, we hired Peggy Davis to help get the project off the ground and help run Veritas Lodge once we were open. When Peggy applied for the position of Veritas Lodge Support, I couldn’t believe it. Peggy Davis on our team? How could we be so fortunate? Well, I had visioned and prayed for the best possible person, so why should I be so surprised? Peggy’s help this year has been significant in the actual birthing of the Learning and Lodging center. I do not think we could have done it without her positive energy, creative approaches and hard working ethic. We will forever be indebted to you, Peggy!
In April, the actual loan came through and by May 1, we were hiring more hands to get the building and the grounds ready!! The bulk of the work took place May through October with about as many setbacks as progresses. In June, long term Buchi kombucha tenants moved out of a residential home on the property (where Hart’s mother and father used to live) and so we had that building, plus the big warehouse, plus Veritas Lodge, sitting empty with no income and were trying not to die of stress. We had wanted to turn that house into another venue eventually, a smaller venue, but weren’t prepared to do it so soon!
And of course, the grass and weeds were growing a mile a minute! Not only did we want to keep the grass and weeds under some sort of control, we were starting new gardens and hedgerows, as well as tending dozens of old gardens, and Hart was growing food for an army thinking we would be open by September and he would feed the masses! Thank the heavens for the hard work of Chris Ripley, Lucas Chute, Kaita Collier and Peggy, who stepped in with me and Hart to keep the place cultivated. We got 70 inches of rainfall this year!! Things grew and fell over at an alarming rate while some rotted and some plants thrived.
There were way too many projects flapping around to open in September, so there was a ton of vegetables to eat up ourselves, and share, and we are still harvesting from Hart’s rich garden! Wanna buy any winter squash?;-)
Jessica Falcon moved into the recently vacated studio part of the home mentioned earlier that was once Hart’s parents, and helped get the energy moving along on that building to turn it into a rental. She worked week after week, with a team of us, to help transform that place into a cozy venue, and by December, it was ready! Her vision of seeing the house clean, beautiful, welcoming and ready to go really helped carry the energy forward, as at first, the idea of taking on yet another project just overwhelmed me so, I didn’t want to approach it! It is now named Magnolia, as the building is built with our native Magnolia tree, the Tulip Tree, and also there are Tulip Magnolias (what some folks call Tulip Poplars but it is not a poplar) and other Magnolia trees growing all around. (*editors update- this building is now called the Hearth House and is a residential home).
Then there was the warehouse to give our attention. We can’t just let that 5000 plus square foot building sit there! The rainy year and the medicinal mushroom project had left it in the poorest condition it had ever been. But Hart was determined he could, with the help of Jonathan and Chris, reclaim it and have it ready to rent again. Emerson Naturals, a local herbal ingredient distributor for cosmetics, incense and soaps, signed a lease to begin renting in January 2019, and so we had a fire lit under us. Here it is December 31st and there is still one full long day of work left to get it ready by tomorrow. When will rest ever come?
In the process, we had to let the bathhouse sit, and not finish it yet, as we ran out of money. But everything else is up and ready to go!
Now the energy will be turned toward marketing- how do we get people here to come use this place we have so lovingly created? Marketing is not my cup of tea- gardening, yoga, ceremony, organizing, writing, tea- yes all that is. I am trying to figure out how to use some of those skills to embark on the fine marketing plan Mountain BizWorks helped us create. For the moment, everything is just sitting here, waiting….
I see groups coming here and renting the lodge and the grounds, sort of like a very miniature Eselan Institute, to have their workshops, retreats, gatherings, classes etc…They can settle in for the week and immerse into whatever field of study they have chosen. We will feed them and tend the gardens and trails so that they have a remarkable place to be held and nourished while they are away from their everyday grind.
So that is a brief overview of 2018 from the Farms’s standpoint. What is the year in review like for you? I hope you will take time to reflect on and integrate the ups and downs of 2018 and set intentions for 2019.
In 2019, some of our goals are to finish the bathhouse, continue cultivating these beautiful gardens, make the trail to Onion Rock more accessible, have biweekly Appalachian Tea Ceremonies and Community Acupuncture and of course, fill up our venue and feed and inspire people!
Blessed 2019 to you and yours!