Justin and Rebecca Rhodes and their six kids are winding down the Great American Farm Tour. This week, the pair were in Oxford.
The family has spent the last 10 months traveling the country to learn about farming in all its forms. They’ve explored homesteads, small farms and backyard gardens in almost every state in the nation. At the end of the tour, the Rhodes will put together a feature-length documentary about their travels and what they learned.
Justin and Rebecca have their own YouTube channel where this whole adventure got started. They’ve amassed over 200,000 subscribers who tune into their videos as they chronicle their trip. Videos on the channel were originally just Justin showing viewers how to completely different tasks around his own farm. But soon he began learning from other farmers and showing how they did things. Soon he and Rebecca began talking about traveling the country and seeing what they could learn from farmers scattered across the nation.
It was the perfect time for them to do it, if there ever was one. They knew if they waited any longer, their kids would be too old to just roll with the crazy adventure they were planning. They wanted a level of stability once their children got older.
The Rhodes decided it was now or never. They sold their cows, gave their chickens to a good home and, once the school bus they bought was completely converted, they hit the road and began the Great American Farm Tour. This was back in February.
To fund the project, the family set up a KickStarter crowdfunding campaign. They set a goal for $10,000, but within seven days, over 2,000 supporters donated more than $82,000 to keep them funded for their year on the road to make this documentary. They were blown away.
“It was crazy,” Rebecca said, her husband beside her agreeing. “The KickStarter blew our minds, and it was so super humbling. We’re so grateful for our community who backed us, who wanted to see this come to fruition. They were excited about this project, just as much as we were. They got behind us and made it happen.”
The trip has taken them all over the country. Mississippi is the 49th state on their tour, having flown to Alaska and Hawaii earlier this year. The last state on their trip is Alabama. After they wrap that up, they’ll head to Florida where Rebecca can visit a childhood friend and continue to work with the kids on their schoolwork and Justin can do some of the editing before the pair put the final documentary together.
While in Oxford, the pair have been hosted by Stacey Sanford. Sanford, her husband Marco D’Emidio, and their son Nico live in Community Green in Oxford. Living on less than half an acre of land, the family was able to grow more than a ton of food in their own backyard last year. Justin said that is what it’s all about.
“We’re looking for the greatest American farm, and that is Stacey’s backyard,” Justin said. “It’s her realm of influence. She grew a literal ton of produce right there. Imagine if every house here grew 2,000 pounds of their own vegetables and meat. This whole community would want for nothing.
Rebecca said that she admires Sanford’s garden for several reasons, including the fact that she and her husband have used their own backyard to keep them in constant supply of food.
“She’s taken control of her food supply,” Rebecca said. “There’s such a joy and a pride when you do something like that. Even Nico is proud of it. They probably all get together out there as a family have their own family time.”
Sanford, her husband and their son have long been fans of the Rhodes. They keep up with their adventures via YouTube and were even part of the push that helped them fund their cross-country road trip.