Inspired by their rural childhoods in Upstate NY and the elder farmers they so fondly remember, Erin and Louanna Hughes started their own family farm in the hills of Taylorsville, GA, called Footehills Farm.
Here, the whole family takes part- kids and grandparents alike.
Please briefly describe your farm. Our farm is nestled on about 20 acres in historic downtown Taylorsville, GA, with a very nice mix of rolling hillsides for our fruit trees, lots of open pasture for veggies and animals and enough timber land to keep our sawmill busy.
Who farms with you, if anyone? Our four children, Anna, Wesley, Katie Jo and Simon, as well as my wife’s parents Lou and Deanna. It’s a family thing.
Do you farm full-time or have any other jobs? I would say we farm full-time due to the collective hours spent, but Erin has a full-time job as a logistics manager with a non-profit.
How/when did you get into farming? It has been a passion for a long time, Louanna and I grew up in Upstate NY working dairy and horse farms. Growing up, gardening and farming were just a way of life.
Have you had other jobs/professions in the past? What made you want to become a farmer? We have had many other jobs over the years, but this is the most rewarding. Louanna and I really wanted to become farmers back in the mid-90s mainly to provide healthy locally grown produce for our neighbors and friends. It took awhile, but we have arrived.
What do you produce? Do you have a specialty? We produce many what we would call “table vegetables” for our CSA. We also include many Asian greens and local Southern favorites such as okra and Cherokee corn. We are also slowly building a crop of German Red, German Hardy & Red Rezen garlic.
What are your markets? Our main market is our CSA program which includes 15 families at this point. We are trying to stay small so we can bless our families with an abundance of veggies each week. We are also going to offer free clinics on food preservation this year.
Why do you feel natural practices are important? Natural farming practices are our heritage. It is also important for freshness, flavor and the health of the farm and the consumer. What else can you say?
Why did you get involved with CNG? I was turned on to CNG by a longtime friend and respected farmer, Eric Erway from The Veg-Table Farm in Roseboom, NY. Once we started investigating the CNG process we fell in love with the peer review idea of farmers helping and inspecting other farms. You can gain a lot of wisdom when you work with like-minded people.
How did you choose your farm name? We combined my wife’s maiden name (Foote) and the NW GA foothills region in which we live and came up with Footehills Farm.
What was your most positive farming experience? Most frustrating? The most positive farming experience was the overwhelming response we received from people wanting to join our CSA the first year we offered it. We had a waiting list that carried over to the next year! The most frustrating aspect was the trial-and-error endeavor of combating pests and other growing issues. When we look back it is hard to call it frustrating as it continues to be an awesome learning experience.
Talk about the biggest challenge you’ve encountered as a farmer. The two biggest challengers we have faced as farmers would be (1) the start up cost and (2) the squash bugs!
When have you wished you hadn’t become a farmer? Well, it hasn’t happened yet!
Most unusual or favorite farm tool? Our kids.
Favorite vegetable. It changes from year to year, but right now we are really digging raw okra.
What’s your favorite dish to cook at home? We really love our ‘All From the Farm’ winter dinners. This usually consists of Hasenpfeffer (a traditional German meal of stewed rabbit), with fresh kale, turnips and sweet potatoes.
What advice would you give to a farmer just starting out? Start small, plan on working late into the summer nights, and enjoy it!
Who is your hero in the food and farming world? Our parents and the old-timers down the road when we were growing up. I would also like to thank Joel Salatin for all the insight he offers.
What’s your most useful piece of clothing for working on the farm? We are in GA so a hat comes in really handy.
Favorite season? Fall, because we love turning out sweet potatoes.
What would you be if you weren’t a farmer? A butcher, baker or candlestick maker?
What plans or hopes do you have for your farm in the future? We are just now entering into mushroom cultivation. I feel this would be a great marketable addition to Footehills Farm.