Before Fairgrown Farm, there was River Rd Gardens – a small 1/2 farming project in Montgomery on (you guessed it) River Rd. It all started when Alex Klett, now co-founder of Fairgrown Farm, started renting a barn on the Campbell-Vandevere farm to renovate into his workshop. The next spring, the farm’s owner plowed a 1 acre field with the vision of growing vegetables. It was at that time that James, Alex’s brother, visited the farm, saw the field and naively thought “I can do this!” After putting together a plan, gathering a few friends, and a little bit of convincing, River Rd Gardens was created.
As it happens, there’s an expression in agriculture that one gets into farming through the womb, the groom, or the tomb… and there’s a reason for that. The first two years were a struggle to get ahead of the learning curve and we learned that farming was no simple thing. But we powered through it and, after a couple years of near heat exhaustion, moved on to find a new, better farm.
The New Farm
After a year of searching and a few mishaps, we found what would later become our home – just a few minutes from our front door! Approximately 8 acres in size, overlooking the town of Hopewell, surrounded by trees on all sides, this secluded paradise was just what we were looking for. The only problem was it was completely wild… and, oh yeah, there were two untamed cows loose! There was a lot that needed to be done.
Renovations were underway the minute we signed the lease. First thing we did was cut down the 2ft tall grass and remove the sparse shrubs from what would become the main crop fields. Any materials we needed for construction were hauled up the hill in our truck (before we even had a gravel driveway). Slowly but surely we started to turn an unkempt field into a farm!
Among all this change and construction, we made it our priority not to damage, erode, or destroy this uniquely beautiful land we were so lucky to have found. Thoughtful permaculture and organic concepts went into designing every inch of this farm, and we believe that by managing it in a responsible way, it can be a far more diverse and overall beneficial ecosystem than if it was left alone.
Before winter hit us, we were able to plow our fields and apply nearly 6,000lbs of lime to make the soil less acidic. Swales and trenches have been dug all around for drainage to prevent soil erosion.
We’re all set up to start growing in April and can’t wait to get our first plants in the ground!
We hope that as time goes by, we can grow this formerly unmanaged pasture into something special capable of providing value to the community. We still have a long way to go on this new farm, but are looking forward to the journey and hope you join us in it!