Though the place names around SheerLark Farm might not seem promising for agriculture - the town is Flat Rock and it's on Sand Mountain - Sherry and Larry Johnson's farm is bountiful.
It's a safe bet that their success has at least as much to do with Sherry and Larry's decades of farming experience as it does with the soil under their feet.
Sherry took the time to answer some of our questions about what keeps them going!
How long have you been farming? Does anyone farm with you? I have been farming here in Alabama full time since 2005. From 1987 to mid 2005 I managed our family farm in southern California while serving women and families as a homebirth Midwife, Herbalist, and Natural Family Health Educator. My husband, Larry, is “farm support” and we host interns year-round so there are generally 1 or 2 on farm. Our daughters farmed with me in the past but now are grown.
How did you choose your farm name? It is a combination of my name (Sherry) and my husband’s (Larry) and a “sheer lark” is something you do for fun!
Do you farm full time? Do you have anything else going on? Besides farming full time, I also serve on the board as President for Chattanooga Sustainable Farmers and on the board as Vice President for Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network, as well as on the board of the Mentone Farmers’ Market.
Do you have a specialty? I grow a full range of produce and fruit, but my specialty is variety of hot chile peppers. I also maintain sustainably raised herds of dairy and meat goats, as well as dual purpose Gulf coast heritage breed sheep.
Why did you get involved with CNG? I have grown using organic practices since 1987, long before USDA organic certification even existed. My life philosophies align much more closely with the peer supported certification and Participatory Guarantee System of CNG than with a government regulated system.
What unexpected customer interactions have been especially rewarding? I once had a man take the time to call me at 9:00 PM to tell me that he had just finished eating our leg of lamb for his dinner and that though he had been eating lamb for over 40 years, ours was the best he had ever eaten!
Who is your mentor or hero in the farming world? I generally don’t get into “gurus”… but I would have to say that I have the deepest regard and respect for Wendell Berry.
If you were magic and could change one thing about our food system, what would it be? I would go back and remove all Genetically Engineered crops and animals.
What’s your most useful piece of clothing for working on the farm? Rubber muck boots!
Favorite season? Fall! I love when the leaves change and the relief of the cool crispness in the air.
What would you be if you weren’t a farmer? Return to midwifery, to serving humans in that way.
What plans or hopes do you have for your farm in the future? That it continue on as a family farm and that eventually my children or grandchildren will farm it.
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