Grant Award: $6,000
Ernest and Kim have established a new source of farm revenue on their diverse farm and have decreased the cost of feeding hay to their farm animals. They have purchased a BCS Walk Behind Tractor and CAEB hay baler, a unique tool specifically designed for use on steep mountainous terrain, perfect for the small Appalachian farmer. The machine is capable of making small round bales of hay, 50-60 Lbs, haylage (forage similar to silage), hay mulch and pine bales.
Ernest first came across this size-appropriate farm technology while working in Italy, where the CAEB baler is made. The small equipment is a necessity on Italy’s small mountainous farms and is used commonly throughout Europe.
In addition to bailing his own hay, Ernest anticipates offering a service to other local farmers, transporting the equipment to their farms and producing hay from their land. He plans to sell hay bales to local organic grass fed animals in Madison and surrounding counties through word of mouth and Internet marketing.
Ernest began renovating his family’s farmland when he returned after 20 years in the U.S. Army. He currently has dairy cattle on his farm and has established an antique apple orchard and vineyard: two acres in apples, grapes, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, which will reach mature production in 2016. He also has a catfish pond and a 30-hive apiary, which he turned into a successful honey business within one year.
“The main goal and purpose of everything I do on this farm is to ensure that the next generation has the chance to experience what I and three generations before me have enjoyed,” Ernest said. “So the main goal here is to continue to show that, yes, you can farm in the mountains of Appalachia and here is another example of how you do it.”
Look up Jewel Hill Farms on Facebook.