Home Farm Equipment UA Small Farm program helps couple realize dream

UA Small Farm program helps couple realize dream


Thirty years in the past, Kenneth Carswell knew he had met his soulmate when he went on a date with Jacqueline Rhodes. Through the dinner out, the dialog turned towards their particular person targets for the longer term. It simply so occurred that Kenneth and Jacqueline had the identical dream – to sometime personal and retire to a farm.

After they acquired married, the Carswells, who lived in Florida, spent their skilled lives working towards and saving for his or her shared imaginative and prescient. Kenneth labored as a system analyst for the Florida Division of Well being, whereas Jacqueline labored as a nurse practitioner. Within the early 2000s, they acquired severe about looking on-line for land on the market within the south.

“Sometimes in life you have to do something different in order to do what you really want,” Carswell stated. “In 2007, my wife and I bought and paid for 66 acres of land in Sulphur Springs, Arkansas. It was the realization of a dream we had been planning for 30 years.”

The acquisition of the land was simply step one for the Carswells. The land they purchased was fully forested and did by no means resemble the fully-functioning natural farm it’s at the moment.

“I had been traveling back and forth between Florida and Arkansas for a few years, acquiring farm equipment and making a plan for how to proceed,” Carswell stated. “In 2009, my son Keith and I moved to live on the land with a truck and a trailer. There was so much forest and brush – we used machetes to chop back the brush inch-by-inch to start creating a road and a clearing.”

Subject journey

Kenneth Carswell talks about organising his operation. (Brad Mayhugh)

To get oriented in a brand new state and a brand new occupation, Carswell determined to begin attending occasions hosted by the College of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. On a discipline journey with the Arkansas Grasp Gardeners Program, he occurred to fulfill Dameion White, Extension affiliate with the College of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s Small Farm Program. 

Not realizing that White was an Extension affiliate for UAPB, Carswell started telling him about his difficulties in growing his forestland right into a farm. White defined his job position as an Extension affiliate and the mission of the Small Farm Program in serving to small producers in Arkansas make their operations extra sustainable and worthwhile. He instantly suggested Carswell to contact the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA) Pure Assets Conservation Service (NRCS) to acquire a conservation plan for his forestland.

Carswell was then suggested by NRCS to acquire a Forestry Administration Plan from the Arkansas Division of Agriculture (ADA) Forestry Division. After that, he used NRCS’s Environmental High quality Incentive Program (EQIP) for monetary help in implementing his forest administration plan, which included clearing 26 acres of the land.

Later, Carswell was launched to Dr. Henry English, head of the UAPB Small Farm Program, for session on tips on how to remodel his land into an natural backyard. He remembers that throughout the assembly, he offered Dr. English detailed plans of the farm he deliberate to construct.

“After I showed him the plans, I remember Dr. English said, ‘Wow, that’s a good project – we want to work with you,’” Carswell stated. “That was very exciting for me – that they liked the concept my wife and I developed 32 years ago. At that moment, our concept started to become a shared vision with the university.”

Land transformation

As he began to collaborate with Carswell, White stated he shortly observed Carswell had many good habits in relation to his farming enterprise. Since he was a brand new farmer, he didn’t have among the “old bad habits” some long-time farmers have, White explains.

“He was taught the right habits through Extension programming, and he sticks to them,” White stated. “For example, Ken is an excellent record keeper. Some farmers may throw a receipt for farm supplies in the cab of their truck. But Ken holds on to the receipt for his records because he knows that information is needed in order to know whether he’s making a profit.”

Carswell’s good document conserving pays off, White stated. He usually receives fast approvals for his cost-share help funded by way of EQIP. He has obtained over $80,000 in funds to enhance his operation with conservation practices. Due to EQIP funding, Carswell remodeled his land right into a multi-faceted operation that features pastureland, vegetable gardens and forestland.

Along with the forestry conservation practices, Carswell has put in different practices together with forage and biomass planting (pasture improvement), institution of a pond, fence set up and the event of a rotational grazing program that helped put together his land for livestock manufacturing. Different preparations for his woodland included the set up of firebreak, prescribed burning, riparian buffers and stream crossings, in addition to the introduction of pollinators and improvement of an built-in pest administration system and forestry plan.

Natural farm

Brad Mayhughcarswellimage006.jpg

Due to EQIP funding, Kenneth Carswell has remodeled his land right into a multi-faceted operation that features pastureland, vegetable gardens and forestland.

After remodeling their land by way of EQIP funds, the Carswells named their operation “Peaceful Pines Farm.” They presently increase goats, chickens, fruit and greens and timber. The operation meets USDA natural standards, that means no artificial chemical pesticides or herbicides are used. Carswell plans to use for natural certification this yr.

“Most producers who are trying to become certified organic have used chemicals in the past and have to prove they are dwindling down their use of pesticides and herbicides over a three-year period,” he stated. “Ken has never put chemicals down. He will be able to receive his organic certification quite quickly because of this. The certified organic designation and product labels will help him obtain premium prices on the food he sells.”

Carswell stated his curiosity in organically-produced meals started when he was a younger grownup.

“I grew up in a time where you started to hear more about Black people getting all sorts of diseases,” he stated. “Some friends and family members were sickly overweight. So, as a young person I ate very healthy and was a vegetarian. Healthy eating was another thing my wife and I had in common when we first met.”

Carswell stated he enjoys the method of discovering pure options to challenges on the farm.

“I like playing in the dirt,” he stated. “Rather than using chemicals in the case of invasive plant species, you can use rotational grazing. And when it comes to fertilizers, I like using what is naturally available. For example, after having trees cut, I can turn some of that into mulch to put nutrients back into the ground.”

The Carswells promote their natural produce and eggs at native farmers markets. Nonetheless, two-thirds of the meals produced at Peaceable Pines Farm is donated to meals banks. Among the many organizations the Carswells donate to are the Salvation Military, the United Methodist Church’s BackPack Program and Neighbor to Neighbor.

Carswell, who’s a member of the Arkansas Starvation Alliance and president of the Northside Household Neighborhood Backyard, stated donation is a vital a part of his philosophy and enterprise.

“Our goal was never to compete, but to be self-sustaining,” he stated. “We are a backyard family business. We were never expecting to make $1 million – we just want to make what we need to get by and like to give away what we don’t need.”


carsellwifeson.jpgJacqueline and Keith Carswell (Brad Mayhugh)

White stated he has seen how Carswell has gone from dwelling off the land to being steward of the land.

“He is very conservation conscious and knows the relationship between different parts of the ecosystem – for example,  the reasons why you shouldn’t kill off all insects because of the benefits they can provide,” White stated. “When you are conservation conscious you are managing the land for the long-run – you consider erosion, air quality and water quality on your land. This approach benefits not only your land, but your neighbor’s land too.”

White credit Carswell with at all times being prepared to study extra by attending programming by way of the UAPB Small Farm Program. Lately, he accomplished a three-part threat administration coaching program for farmers and ranchers. He additionally accomplished the seven-month New Farmers Academy wherein individuals develop advertising methods for his or her operations whereas studying the ins and outs of agricultural enterprises together with vegetable and row crop manufacturing, fish and livestock manufacturing and forestry.

“Thanks to the trainings, Ken set goals and put in place some practices that will benefit his farming operation,” White stated. “He increased egg production, bought a new chicken house and nesting boxes and contacted new suppliers he could sell to. He also learned about the options for and benefits of setting up different types of farm businesses.”

Carswell stated he’s at all times able to learn and study extra. He developed his formidable work ethic by way of his skilled profession.

“The difference between being successful and not successful is you have to be willing to do the work to see success,” he stated. “My philosophy has been to ask for instructions and then do the work.”

Carswell credit the Small Farm Program with offering the plan vital to satisfy his dream of 30 years.

“I have met a lot of good people through the Small Farm Program,” he stated. “Without their help, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Carswell stated he and his spouse are celebrating the start of their first grandchild, Miles.

“My daughter Louise is a lawyer in Chicago, and she or he is glad her son may have an escape from massive metropolis life. His grandma and grandpa have an important, massive farm to point out him a special lifestyle and train him an appreciation for the lifecycle of meals, tips on how to take care of vegetation and animals and all of the onerous work and enjoyable that goes into it.

Supply: College of Arkansas Pine Bluff College of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences, which is solely chargeable for the knowledge supplied and is wholly owned by the supply. Informa Enterprise Media and all its subsidiaries are usually not chargeable for any of the content material contained on this info


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