Rock Stars of the Homesteading World

The one argument for accessibility that doesn’t get made nearly often enough is how extraordinarily better it makes some people’s lives. How many opportunities do we have to dramatically improve people’s lives just by doing our job a little better?

Steven Krug

Hey farm fam!

Spring has yielded to Summer and it seems like we’ve been in a non-stop rush to process our first round of broilers, get the garden planted, keep everything watered, move the new broilers/turkeys out onto pasture, and keep up with the usual day-to-day activities of the homestead.

The season certainly keeps us busy. It’s amazing how quickly time flies.

It’s crazy to think that it has already been over a month since we attended The Homestead Festival 2 at Rory Feek’s homestead in Tennessee. But we wanted to take a moment to recap what a blessing that trip was.

Rory Feek, our host.

This was our second time attending The Homestead Festival. And just like the first one we attended last year, this year The Homestead Festival did not disappoint.

We had the opportunity to meet with many of the rock stars of the homesteading movement. Some of the folks we met and spoke with were people we had met previously, but some were new to us meeting in person. All of them were great. And we, of course, took a lot of photos with everyone.

Joel Salatin – Polyface Farm

This was our second time meeting Joel and watching him process chickens at the festival. Joel has been an inspiration to us going all the way back to the 2007 documentary, Food, Inc. Gracious as always, he posed for a picture and signed a copy of one of his books for us.

Jill Winger – The Prairie Homestead/Old Fashioned on Purpose

Jill Winger was one of the first presenters we saw this year. Her planner has been a great source of ideas and inspiration here on our homestead, so having a few moments to chat with her was a wonderful opportunity.

Jason Contreras – Sow the Land Homestead

Jason and Lorraine (plus family and friends) were amazing to meet with this year. Jason wasn’t a presenter at this year’s festival, but meeting them and supporting them through their vendor booth was a great experience. We must say that Sow the Land’s course on chicken processing was instrumental in the success of our first chicken processing go round this year. The additional tips and advice Jason and Lorraine shared when we met were invaluable

Tom Watkins – Murray McMurray Hatchery

Tom may have surprised us more than anyone at this year’s festival. We met him last year at the event and were thrilled to talk chickens with him. Nearly all of our birds on the homestead came from McMurray Hatchery. But what really blew us away was that Tom remembered us from our meeting the year before! Not just recognized us, but greeted us by name this year! We’ve had nothing but great experiences with McMurray Hatchery and will be customers for life.

Jill and Nate Ragan – Whispering Willow Farm

Jill and Nate Ragan are two of the most incredible people you can meet. We started following Jill a few years back after going through the Growing Gardeners course she co-instructed with Jessica Sowards of Roots & Refuge. After meeting them in person at last year’s event we’ve kept in touch with them and have been fortunate to receive great advice and input from them on growing our homestead and business. They’re two great people who truly get that we all are better through sharing the knowledge we bring to the table.

In addition to hosting a booth at this year’s festival, Jill was also a speaker. It was great to see her take the stage and share from her experience to a fully packed audience.

Jessica and Miah Sowards – Roots & Refuge

It’s no secret that we are huge fans of Jess, Miah, and Roots & Refuge Farm. Perhaps no modern homesteader has been as instrumental as she is in influencing our own homesteading journey. She was a catalyst that has led us to meet so many others in the homesteading community and build our own homestead dream. So, obviously, meeting with her again this year and meeting Miah for the first time was a highlight of the festival.

Jess presented to a packed house at the end of the second day of the festival. During that presentation something incredible happened that was one of two amazing things we witnessed during the festival this year.

During the Q&A after her talk, a crowd member asked for a show of hands for just how many peoples’ lives had been positively influenced or impacted through Jess’ outreach. Hundreds of hands raised in recognition of Jess’ impacts. That elicited applause; and that applause led to a standing ovation.

Witnessing that was one of the two high points of this years event.

Amy Davis – Roots & Refuge Farm

We also had the pleasure of meeting Cousin Amy, Admin for the Friends of Roots & Refuge fan pages and an essential part of the Roots & Refuge team. Her energy and laughter had us hooked almost immediately and we were so pleased to have the opportunity to chat with her.

Daniel Smith – Daniel Smith and the Unseen Anthem

If you’ve followed Roots & Refuge long you’ve likely seen Daniel in several videos. He’s a talented musician who has provided the musical accompaniment in many of their early videos. The man is the epitome of a gentle giant and it was a pleasure to have the chance to converse with him when we recognized him at the festival.

Check out his new release, I’ve Been Running (feat. Charmaine Flores), now available on streaming platforms.

Will and Taylor Kunkle – Honeybee Hollow Gardens

We also had the great pleasure to meet Will and Taylor from Honeybee Hollow Gardens, yet another couple you may recognize from various Roots & Refuge videos over the years.

All in all, the 2nd Homestead Festival was an amazing experience. It was incredible to meet and interact with so many recognizable members of the growing homestead community.

But the value in this weekend was not in with whom we had our pictures taken. It is not about recognition by the rock stars and rising stars of the homesteading movement.

No, not at all.

The value of this weekend was the level of access this event, and similar events of its nature, affords aspiring homesteaders. No matter your level of experience, everyone is welcomed at these events. Everyone is approachable, accessible, and willing to share their accumulated homesteading knowledge with anyone they meet.

We mentioned earlier that there were two awe inspiring moments at this year’s festival. The first was seeing the standing ovation in recognition of Jessica Soward’s impact on fellow homesteaders. The second took place during the concerts on the last night of the festival.

At the festival, we were all surprised to learn the Sean and Beth Dougherty of The One-cow Revolution and Sow’s Ear Farm had lost thier home to a house fire just two days before The Homestead Festival. Sean and Beth had not let on that anything was amiss, but Rory Feek brought it to nearly all 5,000 of this year’s event attendees.

Not only did Rory bring our attention to the Dougherty’s mishap, but he set up a means for festival attendees to help support the family directly through donations at the festival. Rory then further contributed $10,000 to Dougherty’s cause.

As buckets passed around through the crowd during the last evening’s final musical performances, members of the homesteading community reached out to support their fellow homesteaders in need.

When it was all said and done, over $29,000 was raised to support the Dougherty’s homestead and help rebuild their lost home. Witnessing this generosity, and seeing the impact of this tribe on the Dougherty’s faces, was truly the highlight of this year’s The Homestead Festival.

Another organization, Homesteaders of America, would also take up donations in support of the Dougherty’s. That is just how the homestead community works.

We mentioned this after last year’s Homestead Festival, this is our tribe. See: Finding Your Tribe. And it can be yours too. We all have to potential to be rock stars in the homesteading world.

Moon Rise Over Rory Feek’s Homestead

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