Local couple focuses on sustainable, green farming by Agnes Hagin
Adam and Mecca Jackson Lowe of Rockmart look at a field cultivated for producing a variety of vegetables, which will be sold at farmer s markets, online and through pre-sales.
Adam and Mecca Jackson Lowe of Rockmart operate Turtle Bend Farm, which is dedicated to sustainable agriculture.
The family property is located on land bordered on three sides by Simpson Creek. The stream is home to many turtles, hence the name.
The decision to make the dream of a working farm a reality was made after Mecca completed graduate school at Auburn University and Adam was ending a teaching job.
“We wanted to be independent, work outside and do the things that are important to us,” Mecca said.
Adam said they knew it would involve commitment and hard work. “If you can’t work hard and make a living, things are really bad. We are learning that farming isn’t easy and we must manage our time wisely.”
The couple hopes that, in the future, they can hire people interested in growing vegetables. Their goal is to grow other small farms in Polk County.
“There is a lot of potential in the local food economy,” Mecca said. “We see an opportunity for people to have meaningful occupations. Polk has so much farmland that has not been developed. This type of farming not only protects our natural resources but helps preserve our social and economic capital.”
According to Mecca, there is potential to sell vegetables wholesale. “We are not the first with this idea, but we don’t have to be the last,” she said.
Initially, the couple attended conferences and visited other farms. They also talked with knowledgeable people and decided the best place to begin was near their home.
In the summer of 2009, they planted vegetables on three acres. This year, six acres have been designated for a variety of seasonal crops.
Spring favorites such as spinach, lettuce, kale, chard and other greens are growing. Radishes, carrots and potatoes, tomatoes, peas, okra, green beans, squash and other summer vegetables are being planted. As the seasons change, different vegetables will be grown on these plots so that produce will be available as late as November.
Marketing has provided no problem for the couple. Both acknowledge that there is value placed on organic or naturally grown vegetables.
“We are able to find people locally but have sold primarily in the metro Atlanta area,” Mecca explained.
They discovered that the farmer’s market is a great way to sell produce. Last year, they sold at the Dallas Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.
This year, plans are to move into the Marietta Square Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. In Atlanta, there are sites that only allow organic vegetables.
Using a different market strategy, they opened a subscription service involving pre-sales. This year, they have 50 members that will receive $20 worth of naturally grown vegetables for 10 weeks. Deliveries are made to drop off sites or can be picked up at the local farmer’s market.
“This provides income to purchase seed, fertilizer and other needed items,” Mecca said. “Currently, our subscription is full and we won’t accept any more at this time. However, we will open another one later this summer.”