If you’ve read my past blogs you have an idea of why I decided to start farming, and how I picked wine grapes as my crop. I walked out of CFA with a 20 page business plan on how to develop grapes. Now it was time to take those pages and make them a reality.
No one has ever said farming was easy, and I learned that lesson before I even started. I had a plan written out, steps to follow. A, B, & C. But let’s be honest, nothing is that simple. The problem with my plan was that A and C needed to happen at the same time. But C couldn’t happen without B being approved. And B couldn’t be approved without A.
Yea, it was a fun time.
While pulling my hair out I was able to find some weird way to balance A, B, and C.( and D, E, F, & G.)
I found land.
I was working on a contract with a winery.
I was applying for grants.
And I was meeting with loan officers.
Through the stress, I felt like I was moving in the right direction. I felt like I was well prepared and doing everything possible to make this dream a reality.
Until… (yup that’s right)
A wrench got thrown into everything.
I lost the piece of property I was going to develop on. You can’t farm without ground.Losing the property started a chain reaction. The property was linked to the grants I was awarded, and they were non-transferable. I had to forfeit them all. My loan was approved because I was able to show that I would be putting money into the development. That money was the grant. Without the grant, there was no loan.
Without the loan, I could not sign my contract with the winery.
I poured my heart, soul, and sanity into this project and I felt like I lost it all within a few days.
I was devastated. I really did feel like it was the death of Beaver Vineyards before it even started. I was dealing with other emotional trauma at the time and this seemed to be icing on the mud cake.
The stress of losing all of this caused a lot of bad days, a lot of fights, and a lot of tears. Just keeping it real.
As much as I would love to believe everything happens for a reason, I just don’t. But, this happened for a reason. This heartbreak, this wall that was put in front of me, was there for a reason. Farming isn’t easy. There will be MANY hard years ahead of me. If I couldn’t make it through this, I would never make it. This was the universe telling me to rise strong.
The thing that kept me going was my winery contract. I didn’t lose my contract. I still had a winery that wanted to work with a new grower. My rep worked with me to push my planting year back. And after much deliberation, (I’m not joking when I say MUCH) my parents decided to lease me 50 acres.
Why didn’t I do this from the beginning you say?! Well to keep it simple, my dad felt that if I started on someone else’s property, and wanted to expand, his ground would always be there. With me starting on his property the ability to expand could be more challenging. But this is not a worry for today.
Once the lease was official, I started the entire process over.
I reapplied for the grants through the NRCS and FSA. Grants through these programs run on a raffle like system. There is no telling who they will pick, which is what made it so hard to forfeit them the first time. There was no way of knowing if I would be chosen again.
I met with new loan officers. This time I had to ask for a higher loan. – After many budget meetings I was reapproved for my loan with the stipulation that I was repicked for the grants.
Then I got the call. I was picked for every single grant I applied for. God pushed me. He wasn’t pushing me down, he was pushing me harder.
Beaver Vineyards was happening right in my back yard, and I felt like nothing was going to stop me.
Rising Strong is a book by Brené Brown that is incredibly inspirational. I highly suggest it to anyone!