We had the good fortune of connecting with Ilana & Zach Richards and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ilana & Zach, what’s the most important think you’ve done for your children?
We knew, as farmers and entrepreneurs, that getting swept away by the abundance of opportunities to over-sacrifice home life for business work would be all too easy, so we have created a lifestyle for our family which integrates both a healthy home and a healthy business. Our greatest hope is to provide a model for our children, maybe even for other children and members of the next generation of business owners, to be inspired and confident in their ability to maintain an honest, functioning, healthy business that contributes to bettering their communities and their own families.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We are a small-scale, first-generation, family farm in Madison, GA. We focus on soil health and non-invasive agricultural practices to build and maintain healthy soil. In our efforts to achieve minimal soil disruption, we implement hand tools and are powered largely by our own labor, and we reserve tractors and machine work only for necessity. Because we work so closely with the soil through hand tools and close observation, we develop a relationship with the food we grow, and we feel personally connected to every radish we sell and every salad we serve. Our greatest achievement so far has been raising our beautiful daughter at the same time as we build and set up at our new farm location, which we purchased with help from the Farm Services Agency of the USDA, a wonderful organization. The journey has been rewarding, which is also a nice way of saying “difficult”, but we knew farming wouldn’t be easy when we started. We want the world to know that there truly is a way, through hard work and dedication, and with the blessing of community, to build a healthy business that positively impacts your life and your community.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Madison is a beautiful, historic town and an hour outside of Atlanta, so we would spend the first couple of days there. Walking around the downtown square would take up an entire day, stopping at antique shops and enjoying our favorite local coffee shop, Oconee Coffee Roasters, a fellow family business. We would spend the next day walking the beautiful nature trails around town, getting to see some of the historic homes, cemeteries, and beautiful, massive trees that fill the town. There’s a lovely “Wellness Trail” that starts right next to the coffee shop, a perfect way to enjoy a latte. On Saturday morning, we’d stop by Community Roots, a market and community center that will be opening soon in Madison, whose parking lot hosts a bluegrass jam with over a dozen local pickers. We would also spend a day enjoying a hike around Hard Labor Creek State Park, which is about half an hour west of Madison, then come back to the farm for a bonfire and fresh, nutrient-dense, homegrown dinner!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We wouldn’t have made it this far without the love and support of our family, who have been a great blessing and source of strength for us. We’re also beyond grateful to The Food Well Alliance, Georgia Organics, and Community Farmers Markets, for their great work in helping our fellow farmers and us through grants/scholarships, educational opportunities, networking, and engaging community support. Georgia is a lucky state to have y’all here!