Hi! My name is Farmer Rachel and I'm the main Farmer at ARNKA Acres.
We are a small, first generation family farm growing vegetables on 1 acre of our homestead in Dike, IA. We started the farm business in 2009 with dreams of growing delicious tasting vegetables so we never had to eat bland grocery store veggies again and allowing others to do the same. We have three kids, Nate (age 19), Kaity (age 14), and Izzy (age 11), who each have an integral place in the farm business.
Farmer Andy and I bought our first house in 2002. It was in rural Parkersburg. I really didn't want to move to the country but Andy convinced me to try it for at least two years.
The only people I knew who lived in the country were my grandparents. They had a big garden so I decided I should plant one too. I had no idea what I was doing, but I jumped in with both feet (typical of me). That first year I grew just as many weeds as crops, but somehow we ended up with WAY too much produce for our little family.
I couldn't believe how delicious the carrots, peas, beans, and lettuce tasted! I mean, it was unlike anything in our local grocery stores. I was immediately hooked on growing my own food. I couldn't read enough books and seed catalogs about the best varieties for our hardiness zone and different techniques for being self-sufficient on less than an acre.
Of course I told everyone...and I mean everyone...about gardening and how they needed to start one for themselves. I kept getting the same basic response from them: They loved the taste of fresh, local produce but they didn't want to grow it themselves. They either were too busy or didn't have enough space. Some even said they just didn't want to go to all that work. (WHAT?!)
Fast forward a few years...
Life took us away from the country for awhile, but as soon as we moved back, we tilled a garden. As in, less than 24 hours after moving into our new farmhouse in Dike.
I sold veggies at the Parkersburg farmers market again for a few years, but homeschooling three kids made it more difficult.
I researched different models of selling veggies and knew the CSA was how I wanted to farm. And now I can't imagine doing it any other way.
A few fun facts about me:
•I lose all self control around peanut butter. Like, I eat it every. single. day.
•I have a dalmatian tattoo.
•I love the smell of freshly tilled dirt. Sometimes I pick it up and just inhale the scent.
•I probably continue to work long past my back pain says I should.
•Community is my favorite part of the CSA. I wouldn't enjoy farming without the relationships with my members.
•I don't read books very often because if I do, I become so deeply engrossed in them I forget about homeschooling my children and milking my goats.
Farmer Andy is my amazing husband. He has an off-farm job, but I couldn't run ARNKA without him.
some random facts about him:
•He works just as hard on the farm as he does at his off-farm job.
•He runs more miles than any sane person should.
•He is the reason we have so many chickens.
•He is a God-fearing man.
•He has the most adorable smile. (Perhaps, I am a bit biased.)
Why we do what we do
Our vision is to reconnect people to a real working farm and to create a community of people who loves food that actually tastes good and is good for them. Which is why the CSA model is perfect for us.
I love growing a variety of veggies and spending just as much time writing newsletters and planning events as I do working in the fields.
I love knowing my customers--REALLY knowing them. As I harvest crops, I can picture the members who will get excited to see them on the CSA table. Like Melissa with turnips, Jen with carrots, and Dave with arugula.
And, honestly, I love eating my own food too. There's just something about peppers grown in nutrient-dense soil that bursts with flavor when it hits your tongue.