Fangboner Farms

Foundations of the Farm: A Chat with Roland Richardson

Foundations of the Farm: A Chat with Roland Richardson

This is Erin Holden with Fangboner Farms, and I'm here with one of the cofounders of the business, Roland Richardson, who's going to tell us a little bit about the history of the farm. So, Roland, tell me when you first purchased the land that eventually became Fangboner Farms? What was your goal at that time?
When I first bought the land, it was primarily a new place to live. At that point, there was a change in my life, so I wanted to go back to my roots, which involves farming. I wanted to get back to that but, primarily, it was just a place to live with a small orchard, because I was interested in making wines.

Wow. What trees were on the land during that time? 
I started out with maybe a dozen grape vines. Each year I would add more to it, so I had a very small orchard, probably about 15 grape plants. Then I started making wines and just fell in love with it.

What kinds of wines do you make? I know you have all the grape vines that you use to make more traditional wines, but what other kinds of fruit wines do you make?
I'm into making watermelon, peach, apples, and even pineapple. So I've dabbled in quite a bit of the fruits and making wines.

I haven't tried the pineapple one yet I would love to try that one. When people come out to Fangboner Farms, they can sample the wine, right? Absolutely. Of course, from 2005, when I first bought the land until now, a lot of the wines have been consumed. But we still have samples and enough wine in bottles for our customers and friends to enjoy.

What is it that you've enjoyed the most over the years about founding Fangboner Farms and making a living off the land?
To see how mother nature takes a seed and turns it into a tree, a shrub, or a plant, and then from that you get food. I guess just enjoying how things multiply. real good lessons for me. You take a watermelon plant, and in that watermelon there are another 100 seeds. And you can plant those 100 seeds, and you'll get more watermelons. And now you have thousands of seeds. If you continue that process, there's no end to it. That was the most interesting thing that stuck in my mind from from discovering it back in 2005. When we say we have a food, shortage, I just do the math, I don't think we should have food shortages.

It really is just about cultivating the land and taking care of it, then just kind of letting it thrive. 
That's correct. Yeah. Two other things come to mind about recycling and keeping our earth clean. We try not to put anything into the city dumps or anything. We take it and try and repurpose instead.

What are some examples of things that you've repurposed lately?
The main thing is from the landscaping we do. We would see in dumpsters that construction sites had unused lumber, all of it in the trash cans. We'd bring those to the farm to make our planters.

That's just an example of the things that we've brought to the farm recycled. And even when we go to different landscape jobs and the customer says that plant is dead, to get it out of here...we take it, bring it to the farm and we see if there's still some life in it. We have many examples of that around the landscaping at the farm. 

I know that you've described some of the things that you take in at the farm as it being like taking a patient to the hospital.

Right, I am a like doctor, or pretend to like that. Yeah, that's my new nickname - Dr. Purple Leaf. 

Other things we do at the farm include building cables to store our plants, and they're all made out of repurposed material.

When you think about the future of Fangboner Farms -  I know that your daughter Elizabeth is is now the CEO of the farm - what are your biggest hopes for the future when it comes to your family owned business?
Well, the first thing is that we hope we can retain the property in the family. I know it's a stretch for me, but coming along, you never had that much as far as land. You get a few acres, then you become a little tight. I don't want to lose it, so I like to see the land passed on to my daughter and my granddaughter and their kids, you know, hopefully never to be sold and always to be a part of a community and a part of nature and trying to preserve and protect it.

We are trying to do a lot of things at the farm, and I think it'll always be a place where if you wanted to touch nature and grow and eat your own vegetables, you have a plot at the farm that you could try and test and see what you think about farming.

It's also a  sort of an educational thing too for people who are just starting out.
Yeah, absolutely. One of the main things that I'd like to see accomplished is that the public in general becomes more aware of where the food comes from that they eat every night. To come out and see an actual peanut plant growing, and then pulling it up and seeing all the peanuts. To see a sweet potato or white potato plant, and to see how that grows and to harvest it.

That's one thing I've been very surprised by over the years with customers -  someone that has never seen a peanut plant or pecan tree. So we have some of all that the farm, and hopefully we'll continue to to be a part of our community and to share the knowledge that we have.

I think that's great. I love the educational aspect of it and opening it up to the public. Well, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today about the history of the farm and everything that you appreciate about it.
All right. Nice being a part of it. Thank you. 

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