Where it all Began
In June of 1974, Wade and Ann Wheeler finally found the farm they had been in search of for years. Two months later, just before a new school year was about to begin, they moved their family of 9 children from the suburbs of Chattanooga to Fredonia Mountain, just outside the town of Dunlap, TN. The 50 acre farm they had just purchased had once been home to a diversified farm which included an apple orchard. Though the site of the old orchard was overgrown, it was an ideal location for an apple orchard because it sat in a gorge where warm air from the valley provided extra protection against late spring frosts. Wade and the 9 children began clearing that fall.
The first apple trees were planted in the spring of 1978. The next year they began planting the small grape vineyard. Now, almost 4 decades later, Wade's children and even some of the grandkids are transforming the orchard & vineyard into a diversified, sustainable farm.
We are often asked, "What does sustainable mean anyway?" Sustainable farming involves several key principles: choosing the right site and location for what you want to grow or raise so that the natural environment works with you instead of against you; understanding the biology of each life system (tree, vine, soil, pollinator, disease, pest,...) that is at work on your farm; using beneficials such as ladybugs as first line of defense against pests; utilizing cultural practices such as summer pruning & soil amendments to strengthen the crops' natural ability to fight disease; close monitoring of farm throughout year to positively identify disease and pests; determining at what point spraying is warranted; spraying minimally; using the safest and least harmful products available.
We do not spray any products that harm all the insects that do the heavy lifting on the farm, such as the bees, the lady bugs & praying mantis. In short, sustainable means tending the land in a way that respects the health and safety of the farmer, the environment, the consumer and all of the folks that visit our farm to learn about and enjoy farming as the wholesome and enriching vocation that it was meant to be.