Finding Home at Furrowed Earth Farm

Furrowed Earth -4
{Written by Alex Lampert, Photos by Jenna Mobley}
A couple of weeks ago, the CFM staff drove down to Union City to visit Garrett Stephenson of Furrowed Earth Farm. Driving through the short and narrow pine-studded roads that wind to his current plot of land, and after taking a few wrong turns, we finally spotted his motorcycle on a sprawling lawn in front of a large brick house, the bike he uses to bring his produce to markets and restaurants.
 Furrowed Earth -14
Back behind the house and down at the bottom of the hill lay a small grid of rows planted with okra, potatoes, some tomatoes and beans on trellises, squash, cucumbers, eggplant and more. These are currently the primary fields of Furrowed Earth Farm. Garrett has been cultivating this plot of land, behind his friend Larry’s home, for three years.
 Furrowed Earth -33
Now, depending on how old you are and how you live, three years may not seem like a long time, especially for farming and developing a good soil system. But, in Garrett’s case, three years is a testament to a very good thing.
 Furrowed Earth -27
Garrett got his start in farming alongside Joe Reynolds and Judith Winfrey of Love is Love Farm in 2007. He was working their farm stand on the west side when Judith pulled him into the farm, and he took to the work right away. Before then, he had been touring in a metal band, (which may surprise those of you who know him as soft-spoken and earthy with an occasional wiley twinge, but it’s always the quiet ones) and his anarchist leanings meshed well with farm work: people working of their own volition and doing it together. When he moved into the carriage house behind Isia Cooper & Chris Clinton’s home in south Atlanta during this time, he enjoyed these same values, making fond memories of working with his peers by day and feasting at night on the bountiful produce grown at what would later become known as Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet.
 Furrowed Earth -66
But, life changes, and soon Garrett moved on and in with his folks to their newly acquired homestead in Benton, Tennessee, where the family plowed up a healthy acre of ground and Garrett tried his hand at applying what he learned, starting Dog Star Farm. There in Tennessee, he also found Walden Ridge, a bio-intensive farm where he would work part time, spending mornings working the land and afternoons in lessons on soil science. And, there was Riverview Farms, too. A much bigger – therefore very different – approach to farming is intimidating for someone like Garrett who was used to working with hand tools and small plots. Eventually though, like most young farmers in rural areas, after spending so much time relatively isolated (despite the variety of places he worked), he missed the company of his friends and the opportunities that come with a bigger city.
 Furrowed Earth -40
Garrett moved back to Atlanta, driving the Farm Mobile for Riverview for work, and was fortunately (although knowing the Scharkos, one might say inevitably) introduced to Tony Scharko, who connected him and a friend to a plot of land outside of Fairburn. He moved to Scharko Farms and worked the plot for a time – as long a time as one might presume knowing that the soil wasn’t easy to work with and that our featured farmer here was young with a penchant for thrill-seeking (remember the motorcycle). One might also remember how tricky finding the right place to work can be without adding soil composition to the mix. What is of note, however, is that eventually, Tony introduced Garrett to Larry, a retired gentleman living in Peachtree City who was raised on a cattle farm and understood firsthand the hardships of living off the land. Larry had been seeking a young farmer to partner with and create a productive garden. Garrett has been there ever since, for the past three years.
Furrowed Earth -59
It’s a rare thing to find work that feels natural and it’s even more rare to find the right venue for it; those places often seem to find people rather than the other way around, much like Larry’s land found Garrett. For an anarchist, finding the right place to work likely means being one’s own boss. For Garrett, it means eventually securing his own piece of land where he can live and develop a bountiful farm, which, thanks to the help of his parents, is looking like an attainable goal in the near future. Regardless, to have found a good field to apply one’s passions with no lack of elbow grease is something that not many in the world can say. And for that, respect and congratulations are due. Here’s to wishing the same for the reader.

Community Farmers Markets