In the beginning

The year was 2008. Hard to believe its been that long. My first born was 1 year old. We lived in a middle of the road type neighborhood, HOA and all, outside of Monroe, GA, in a little hamlet called Between. I guess looking back at it now I had always been fascinated with farming. The interest really peaked in college when I read a biography of Eugene Talmadge for a senior history course. The image of the dirt farmer. A man with a mule, working the land, gutting it out in often lean times. It brought home all those stories I’d heard as a kid from my grandmother.

I’ve always been a romantic at heart.

Somehow I came across the book Omnivore’s Dilemma. The quintessential read for suburbanites curious about food. Immediately I jumped in head first. I was going to produce and hunt for our food.

Naivete is a beautiful gift. I took a course at UGA about beekeeping. I got some bees. We had a one acre lot, which I thought was massive at the time. I rented a bobcat and with my chainsaw I cleared our woods and put in a garden. A friend had a horse farm so I put in a bunch of horse manure. I remember telling my wife that I was going to plant vegetables and sell them at a farmers market and make money.

I vividly recall her looking at me like I had completely lost my mind.

The garden produced very well. Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers. I was really doing it! Excitely I signed up to do a farmers market near the Cactus Carwash in Atlanta. Down where Ponce City Market is now. At the time it was still a hit or miss area, still affordable, but definitely ripe for a farmers market.

I showed up with some bonsai that I had made and some vegetables. I was dying I was so excited. So this is what it means to farm! Man just typing that makes me laugh but that is where my head was at. I think I made $30. Not as lucrative as I envisioned. I nearly cried on the drive home. Pretty funny to think about now.

Circling the wagons on my farm dreams, I wasn't about to give up. I noticed that another vendor was selling chicken and appeared to be doing well. It might be that I remember it with rose colored glasses but I distinctly saw people literally flock to him like salmon to a spawn site.

More to come…

brandon chonko