Organic Farming in the Foothills: Mountain Sun Farm in Mentone, AL
Nestled in the Foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of Northeast Alabama, near a city described as a “Musical Mountain Spring,” Liz and Brian Simpson are living their dream operating Mountain Sun Farm.
The Simpsons started their farming operation on leased property in 2014. With a passion for organic farming and the education and experience to go with it, these young farmers wanted more.
“We wanted to go ahead and put our roots down…. we wanted to get started at a younger age so that we had time to enjoy our farm once we accomplished everything,” Liz said. In 2017, they acquired land in Mentone, AL, and started Mountain Sun Farm.
Liz and Brian grew up together and both wanted to be farmers. They started dating during their freshman year in high school and have been together ever since.
“Liz and I have wanted to be organic farmers since high school… when you write the career essay in high school saying what you want to be when you grow up, we both did organic farming,” Brian said.
Having recognized their interest in farming during high school, they pursued college degrees in ag related fields at Auburn University. Liz earned a fruit and vegetable production degree and Brian, an environmental science degree.
“I’ve always had a passion for the outdoors. I used to paddle (i.e., canoeing, kayaking) a lot in high school, and water quality was important to me. So organic agriculture made sense,” Brian said.
Their families had no land to offer, so as beginning farmers, it was up to them to find land and obtain the necessary financing. That is when Clay Thornton, loan officer with First South Farm Credit in Albertville, AL, entered their lives. With years of experience in lending to small farmers and rural land owners, Clay worked with the Simpsons to purchase their own farm.
“Without First South, we would not have been able to purchase this property,” Liz said. As the Simpsons reflect on their journey, Liz goes on to say that, “We’re very proud of what we have accomplished. Every year there are so many improvements and it just gets better and better.”
First South is committed to the future of agriculture and helping young farmers like the Simpsons grow their operations.