ASHLAND – Imagine this: You wake up before the sun rises and eat breakfast. You take care of the baby and spend a few minutes with him before you go to work. You walk outside and inhale the fresh air, laced with a hint of overturned earth. You get in your truck and drive a few hundred feet to the ‘barn,’ a small but well built house for the rest of your ‘babies.’ You load your gloves and boxes and crates into the truck and you head to your ‘office.’ There, you spend hours lovingly picking through your ‘babies,’ choosing the ones just perfect enough to be picked and shared with your family and friends. You come back to the barn and spend a few more hours sorting and boxing and organizing your harvest while chatting with your husband and chasing your rambunctious toddler around the barn, handing him onions as a snack because he loves them. You look around at your farm, your family, your home and realize you are living your dream.
For Randy and Josephine Alexander and their 15-month-old son Cooper, this is life. Since 2011, they have called Tubby Creek Farm home. Before moving to Ashland, they lived in Memphis, where Josephine worked as a coordinator for Grow Memphis. They also ran a small community garden. Josephine studied agriculture for many years, so when it came time for the Alexanders to make a decision to continue to grow and live in Memphis or to make changes, it was easy to decide to move to the country and start their farm. They began their search and found 70 acres located on the outskirts of Ashland. They made their purchase in the spring of 2011 and haven’t looked back.
Both Josephine and Randy believe in regenerative agriculture, which means they not only farm specific crops in a specific order to sustain the land, they also work to heal and improve the land. They are a Certified Naturally Grown farm and do not use any chemically synthesized pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. Both are determined to provide good, high quality food to their community.
Randy says, “We believe in what we grow, it’s not just to make a buck, it’s to feed families.”
And they are definitely feeding families! The farm produces over 30 different fruits and vegetables each season, including the favorites: squash, zucchini, tomatoes (of many, many varieties), onions, beets, lettuce, potatoes, blackberries, and blueberries, to name a few. They also produce a few not so common varieties, such as: Purple Majesty Potatoes, Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes, Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes, Boc Choy, Candy Cane Beets, Arugula, and Kohlrabi to name a few.
When asked why she wanted to be a farmer, Josephine responded, “Growing things is an addiction. To be able to grow something that’s tangible, to be able to produce a real, living thing day after day that is essential for life is really meaningful. I love to be outside, working with my hands, playing in the earth. It’s amazing.”
Josephine and Randy are expanding their farm to include an apple orchard. Josephine wants to bring in a few different varieties other than what you would normally see in the grocery store. Not only do they farm produce, they also have several laying hens they use to get fresh eggs and meat goats for purchase. They partner with a local beekeeper, Scott Holloway of Southern Charm Honey Farm, to have fresh honey to go with the fresh fruits and vegetables they provide.
As well as providing quality produce for the local community, Randy and Josephine also provide opportunities for learning and earning money. The Alexanders welcome the opportunity for volunteers to help on the farm and in turn, learn about the different kinds of produce grown. They also hire seasonal workers to help with the harvest and upkeep of the plants. They even provide opportunities to trade help on the farm for fresh produce.
If you are interested in learning more about the Alexanders and their farm, you can visit tubbycreekfarm.com, or find them on Facebook. Josephine keeps up a weekly blog and Randy will gladly respond to any emails sent his way. Or visit them at the Benton County Farmer’s Market every Wednesday from 9 a.m. – noon on the square in Ashland. They also set up every Saturday at the Cooper Young Community Market in Memphis from April through December.