From our family to yours, let food be our medicine.
We are a three hundred acre regenerative, grass-based, and Certified Naturally Grown permaculture farm located between Charlottesville and Lynchburg and nestled into our precious nook of the Blue Ridge Mountains overlooking the James River.
But this is not where our journey began.
Although today we are situated under the sparkling night skies of rural central Virginia, our journey’s beginning took place under an August sun and on a football field in Columbus, Ohio.
During my routine warm-up lap around the field, I, a DI college recruit, all-state linebacker, and team captain, collapsed. I was not over-extended, exhausted, or dehydrated. Rather, both of my hips were broken.
After many months of soul-searching and painful rehab, I was diagnosed with an extremely rare and debilitating genetic disease, which ultimately caused my malformed femoral head to slowly deteriorate and tear the acetabulum and its fibrocartilaginous labrum. I tried to play through the pain but, in the end, my diagnosis left in its wake two immensely damaged hip joints and a prolonged case of severe degenerative joint disease.
Growing up, I was always the “healthy one.” I never needed much sleep, rarely got sick, and was the star athlete in the family. In many ways, my childhood was marked with great activity and supreme health. However, many years of surgeries, rehab, unexpected complications, and depression filled my early adult life. In March 2013, two years after the initial diagnosis and when one thought it couldn’t get any harder, my already ill health turned for the worse. Complications developed exponentially and after losing over eighty pounds in just less than three months, I left college, quit rehabbing and trying to get back on the field, and moved home to seek deeper medical help.
The next year alone, I amassed over fifty unique doctor visits across the East Coast. Although peripheral improvements were seen, my ailments were ever present and controlling. Leaving the house became a multi-person chore; life was painful. It was during this time that my mother argued for a severe diet change. She advised immediately removing gluten, dairy, and nuts from my daily meals. Although “Gluten Free” was not yet “a thing” in grocery stores or restaurants and dairy sensitivities were for the “weird kids,” we haphazardly yet painfully removed these items from my diet.
Just as immediate as this change began, so also results followed. My pains lessened; my disabilities marginally receded. Somewhat normal life seemed possible again for the first time in many years. After one year on this revised diet, I was healthy enough to return to college as a commuter and after the second year, I married my wife and moved to an apartment off campus. Life finally seemed to be on track again. My health became manageable for the first time in many years.
…but this lasted only for a short time.
During the spring semester, my health again turned for the worse. Inexplicably and in a span of a little under two months, I lost over fifty pounds. Life once again came to a screeching halt. I dropped 3 pants sizes and weighed less than what I wrestled in 8th grade. In pain and somewhat lifeless, I (now with my wife, Morgan) again moved back home.
I will never forget sitting on their backyard patio during the those initial weeks back home. I had energy enough to read and witness spring mature into summer. I, the kid ever-full of energy and health; I, the son bursting with vigor and athleticism; I, the all-state linebacker and wrestler couldn’t muster enough energy and strength to even go for a long walk.
It was here that my mother again argued for an alternative path. In little less than an hour, we discussed and purchased 100 chickens to raise for meat and eggs. This simple and incredibly hasty backyard idea was our gesture into farming.
Food had proven its deep efficacy the previous year; perhaps, personally raising nutrient-dense food in the backyard was the answer. Without thinking twice, we jumped headlong into farming. Our Black Australorps arrived on July 1st, 2016—the day that truly changed—saved—our lives and health forever.
Although it took a multitude of painful years to uncover the solution, eating nutrient-dense, pastured, grass-fed, and whole foods have nearly eradicated my day-to-day pains and transformed my life emotionally and physically.
Since then, our farming endeavors have multiplied ten-fold—literately. We have gone from 30 acres, to 300 acres; 100 chickens to 1,000 chickens; 0 cows to 10 cows; 0 goats to 10 goats. I finally graduated from college—at the top of my class for both History and Computer Science. Morgan, intimately involved from the beginning, got in the best shape of her life, even though she competed under a full-ride scholarship for collegiate Track and Field the years prior.
Timshel Permaculture Farm was founded in May 2017 in Nelson County, Virginia to help restore and regenerate the triumvirate of health—the health of people, the health of the earth, and the health of such components’ interactions—to foster ecologically harmonic, diverse, purposeful, natural, and life-abundant systems. Simply, out of our deep pains and joyous triumphs grew our sincere mission to regenerate the land; nourish the soul; and heal the body.
From our family to yours, let food be our medicine.