Today, we're delighted to feature Jenny and Chris Jackson the pair behind Jenny Jack Sun Farm.
We'll let them do the talking.
Our names are Jenny and Chris Jackson and we are the full-time farmers at Jenny-Jack Sun Farm located in Pine Mountain, Georgia about an hour and a half west of Atlanta. We grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on 4 acres, raise over a hundred pastured layers, and rotationally graze 10 heritage breed pigs along the margins of our farm. We employ two hard-working apprentices each year and the four of us operate all aspects of the farm spring, summer, and fall. We sustain the farm through a 140 member CSA with three pickup locations stretching no farther than 30 miles from the fields. We also sell our produce, meat, and eggs at our Wednesday on-farm market and Saturday morning's Uptown Columbus Market. A small, quaint bakery in town purchases produce weekly as well as our dear friend Shannon Klein, the area's finest caterer.
How did you get into farming? After graduating from the University of Georgia we were married in a field adjacent to our farm. We experimented for a year working full-time in our respected fields of study for someone else off the farm. Chris taught middle school and Jenny worked in the vegetable garden at Callaway Gardens Resort. We were itching for something more so we set off to Hawaii and worked on three farms on three different islands for 5 months. We were hooked, inspired, and encouraged to begin farming In Pine Mountain on the land where Jenny was raised. We started with a small 5000 sq. foot plot while simultaneously apprenticing under veteran farmers, Skip and Cookie Glover, who graciously passed on their 30 years of farming knowledge. Now, seven seasons later we wake each day, walk to work, and find joy at attempting to be the best possible stewards of our gift of good land.
Why are natural practices important? In order to protect the life of our soil, as well as the health of our customers, we use no chemical fertilizers or pesticides to grow our produce. We farm to provide meaningful work for ourselves and to provide our customers with quality, naturally grown food.
Why did you choose CNG? Certified Naturally Grown provides a description of how we farm from a creditable grassroots organization. We feel getting certified Organic is unnecessary from our marketing, financial, and record-keeping point-of-view, but the peer-review offered by CNG relays to our customers the high standards we set for our farm.
What’s the deal with the name of the farm? A “Jenny” is the term for a female mule, while a male is referred to as a “Jack.” Mules are known for being strong, stubborn animals. Those are two characteristics that we feel are imperative for farmers to possess as well! After marrying Chris, my name became Jenny Jackson. We rely on the sun to grow our plants, so we couldn’t resist the pun!
What’s special about your farm? We were married on the adjoining property behind a 100-year old shotgun-style farmhouse. The current landowners recently built a new home and needed to rid themselves of the farmhouse. They generously sold it to us for a very good price and we moved it next door onto our property. Two years ago, Chris spent 6 months during the winter and early spring remodeling the all wood, heart pine home. We took out a couple of walls, installed a wood stove, re-constructed the bathroom, and painted. Jenny's dad laid heart pine flooring throughout the house. We pulled nails and saw milled the lumber which came from a closed down, local mill. Every piece of our home has a story.
What’s been the most positive most positive aspect of your farm? It has been the overwhelming encouragement, support, and love shown to us by our friends and neighbors and community members. We are farming because a lot of people have taken an interest in our ongoing pursuit of a worthwhile vocation. Small farms are a necessary part of democracy and I think most thoughtful people make this connection and want to participate in some way.
Favorite farm tool? One of our very favorite farming tools is a bamboo stick similar in makeup to that of a walking stick. We use it to push sweet potato slips into the earth. Someone lays out the slips every foot atop the mounded soil and the other person walks steadily behind pushing each slip gently into the soil. No bending over to plant just a leisure march down the early evening row, beer in one hand bamboo stick in the other. An 85 year old man who has lived in this neck of the woods all his life and who drives around our fields regularly in his Lincoln Town Car gave us this idea. He farmed for 47 years and has been a helpful asset to our young, naive, ignorant farming selves.
What advice would you give to new farmers?
Walk fast, seek out help, and work till the callouses burn.
Folks can find out more info about our farm at www.jennyjackfarm.com. While on the site sign up for our weekly newsletter and hear about whats going on at our farm, around our town, and in our minds.