Nelson Family Farms is a small business that has only been up and running a little over a year, but the family’s dream of farm life has been a long time coming.
Josh Nelson a local Marine and Air Force veteran, with his wife Brittany, and his father Mark Nelson, own a farming business on the outskirts of Ripley about two miles out a curvy, country backroad.
They started their small business on 50 acres, with just a few chickens and word of mouth advertising. Within a year it has grown to consist of not only chickens, but turkeys, honey bees, and goats as well. All of their animals are pasture-raised, organic, non-GMO, and antibiotic-free.
Being a veteran and starting a small business can be quite a chore, but with the help of his wife and father, they are making it work. The community support in purchasing their products has also helped their dreams become a reality.
On Friday, Nov. 9, the Nelson Family Farm received a visitor from the White House. Michelle Christian, regional administrator of the Mid-Atlantic Region of
the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), stopped by to check on the Nelsons.
During a round table discussion, Christian spoke with Nelson about being a veteran and starting his own business. She questioned what the government could offer other veterans as they return from duty, that would aid them in doing the same.
“Farming is very therapeutic and I feel it would benefit veterans if there were programs to assist them in the fundamentals of running a farm,” Nelson said. “They need to learn the basics of how to care for animals before they complete their purpose. Happy animals produce better products.”
Kris Warner, USDA Rural Development State Director, was also at the Nelson Farm. He discussed different ways and programs they have to offer that may assist Nelson and others veterans in their small business adventures.
“The nation needs to realize that veterans are different when they come home. If the nation is going to make veterans, they need to make programs that provide them with a clear path to becoming farmers and small business owners,” Nelson said. “Agriculture is important to our national security.”
The government is wanting to focus on helping veterans become successful after they return from deployment. According to the Small Business Administration, veteran-owned businesses employ five-million workers and generate $1.1 trillion.
Karen Friel, District Director with the SBA, also offered assistance to the Nelson family. She provided them with a list of programs, including loan and grant options, they could apply for to help them in growing their farming business and taking it to the next level.
Not only do they produce poultry, they also produce hay, honey, and a variety of vegetables. Next fall he hopes to have a pumpkin patch where people could come in and pick their own pumpkins. Nelson expressed the next step of the farm is to purchase and raise forest hogs. He has already laid out plans on where they will do their grazing. After that, he hopes to open up a store on the property to sell their products directly.
“It is very humbling to have someone from the White House come to our farm,” Nelson said. “We are living the American dream.”
For more information, check out their Facebook page at Nelson Family Farms.