The last year has been a blur, full of some of the most wondrous experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve had little time to write about it, but a lot of people recently have been telling me that what we’re doing here on our farm is inspiring, unique and special, and they’ve urged me to write about it, blog about it, write a book, start a youtube channel or simply just tell my story. Our story.
Corva Bella Farm is the combined hard work and passion of myself, and my fourteen year old son. A true mother/son team effort. We moved to the Greenville area from the low country of South Carolina, in March 2012, after a huge change in life circumstances set us on a new path. Greenville and the surrounding beauty of the mountain lakes region provided us with a much-needed respite from the tourist community I’d moved to in 2002 when I became a single mother and wanted to be close to family.
I never imagined that four years after moving to Greenville, I’d end up on the fast track to being a farmer, but that’s exactly what happened. Greenville and the surrounding area has an amazing energy, a passion for great food, and a unique willingness to support a vibrant local economy that I’ve seen in my travels, in American cities like Portland and Seattle, or farther away in the rural green heart of Italy- Umbria. It’s a beautiful thing, this area.
It weaves it’s way into your daily life and before you know it, you’re the only house on your street with a huge backyard container garden. You go hiking every weekend and swim in clear mountain streams while dreaming of one day again, being a homeowner and having your own little slice of this heaven you’ve found.
That day came true for my son and I, after four years of renting houses in Mauldin and Westminster, we planted ourselves with plenty of room to blossom, in a rural area of West Union, Oconee County, about an hour away from Greenville. Last year on this very day, we were burning brush and preparing for our future pasture fencing to start going in. We didn’t have shelters for our animals, or a barn, or anything but two small chicken coops we’d built that Fall! But we had our combined passion, our love of learning and our desire to dive in and be our absolute best in our endeavors. We also had one of the most important things of all- a supportive farming community full of wonderful people, many of whom we are proud to call friends and colleagues.
During our two years in the Greenville area, we learned a lot about the state of America’s broken food system, factory and confinement farming, and monocropping. We became a lot more involved in the local economy, shopping at farmer’s markets, eating at local small restaurants and visiting local farms on the yearly farm tours. We even stopped eating all meat and dairy for about a year and adopted a vegan diet. While this had unfortunate results for my health, it had the wondrous outcome of bringing me to the understanding of just how serious the act of eating meat is. I became determined that if I was going to eat meat, it would be meat that I purchased with the knowledge of how it was locally raised and cared for, or it would be meat I had raised myself.
Fast forward to 2017, and I can’t remember the last time I bought meat at the grocery store. In a year’s time, we’ve become incredibly self-sustaining. Our farm has expanded and our goals and focus for our farm and path forward has come to light. A passion for heritage breeds and ancestral farming is the foundation of our farm. These are the breeds of yesteryear- hardy, purposeful animals of historical significance, which represent links to our collective ancestral farms and foods.
Through our work with these breeds, we are fulfilling a dual purpose. The main purpose is breed conservation, and the secondary purpose is utility. You can’t work towards conserving a breed without having purpose for your animal. And what amazing purpose we have found in the breeds we’ve chosen to focus on!
Last year on this day, we had 12 Ameraucana chickens and four Kunekune pigs. Over the last year we saw our first litters of piglets born, and our first chicks hatch, but we also saw the transformation of our love for heritage breed animals become something much greater than ourselves. Through the USDA youth loan program and money I chose to withdraw early from my retirement fund, we began establishing our farm infrastructure and purchasing carefully selected breeding stock. Our farm is currently home a a foundation breeding herd of Kunekune and rare Meishan pigs, and a growing meat herd of those same breeds. We also added Blanc de Hotot heritage rabbits, Salmon Faverolles chickens, and Heritage turkeys. All breeds with a long history of being purposeful animals with a place in history, that we wish to be part of conserving.
As we look forward to this coming year, I invite you to follow us on our journey towards the continued expansion of our small and sustainable permaculture farm. I want to share more of that journey with you here on our blog as well as on our Instagram and Facebook page. We’re constantly striving towards our goals, while I balance it all with our life as homeschoolers, the intensity of being a single parent, and my second job- an online business which has fortunately been there to help pay the bills! We have litters of piglets on the way, including the first historic Meishan breeding of newly available bloodlines to be born in the state of South Carolina.
Some of our big goals we set last year will soon be set into motion. With our small but growing meat herd, we hope to soon have our meat handlers permit and inspections, and to be able to offer retail cuts, half or whole pigs from our pastured and forested stock. We hope to offer our cuts locally, through the food exchange, restaurants or co-ops who want to be part of our overall breed conservation efforts and have amazing rare heritage breed pork on the table, or the menu. If you’ve not experienced the meat from Kunekune or Meishan pigs, you’re in for a surprise when you do!
Last year’s heirloom garden was productive and full of many wonderful Italian variety produce. Our future plan is to begin a small initial CSA basket offering featuring our meats and chemical-free, sustainably grown produce. Sometimes we dream about one day doing farmers markets. The future is an exciting prospect for us and we hope to rise to meet the occasion as it greets us!