The Small Farm Whisperer
Roxanne Reed’s Farm School on Wheels fits together the pieces of the puzzle for agricultural entrepreneurs.
Have you ever dreamt about starting your own agribusiness? Maybe you’ve thought about growing produce to sell at a farmer’s market, growing wildflowers for a u-pick farm or cultivating a pumpkin patch to sell pumpkins and offer hayrides?
For Kelly Brookshire, owner of Second Chance Farm in Supply, the dream was about building a sustainable farm.
“Agritourism was our plan,” Brookshire says. “We wanted a place where people could come and have a farm experience, look through the greenhouse and enjoy the beauty of the land.”
After recovering from the aftermath of two hurricanes, she and her partner bought 12 acres in Supply. Their vision included a farm with goats, a garden and a pond. But turning her dream into a profitable agribusiness was not easy. Farm School was the answer.
“You have a big vision, and there are so many roads to get you there,” Brookshire says. “Farm School was instrumental in getting me to figure out what we could do. It made me focus on how many revenue streams I could pull from our farm.” Farm School classes are hosted by a number of Small Business Centers throughout the state, including at Brunswick Community College. The classes connect entrepreneurs with the tools they need to develop an agribusiness plan.
Roxanne Reed, an experienced business developer, problem solving facilitator and principal at Granit Training Group, is the driving force behind Farm School.
“Providing connections to resources, teaching business fundamentals and giving entrepreneurs access to capital, that’s our focus,” Reed says. “I’ve been a teacher of entrepreneurs and business owners for over 20 years. We really handhold them through the process — here are the people you need to talk to and this is how they can help you grow your business.”
In 2015 Reed was a business counselor at James Sprunt Community College in Duplin County and was asked to develop classes for students who were agri-curious. This is a term that refers to someone who is leaning toward a career in the agricultural business beyond it being a hobby.
“We offer classes to everyone from porch farmers to those who have 20 to 65 acres,” Reed says. Her curriculum spread to other community colleges throughout the state. Teaching in many little pockets of the state, she found that there was a need for this information and wanted to share it with a growing community of agribusiness entrepreneurs. “We are funded by grants and typically tied to community colleges, and there is no cost to students,” Reed says. “Granit Training Group is a family-owned company. How dare I have all this information and not share it? I don’t charge our [Farm School] clients and students. That’s not who I am.”
During the pandemic it was necessary to take Farm School on the road to meet the needs of her students.
“The mobile unit, Farm School on Wheels, came about because my students couldn’t come to me,” Reed says. “I would go to them and set up shop where it was safe for them. We have helped with more than 320 grants to keep people and their businesses going.”
Brookshire says Farm School provided her with a network of friends who she still interacts with and can call to share ideas.
“We also support each other by offering products and helping each other out,” Brookshire says. With Reed’s ongoing support, Second Chance Farm has grown and includes a pond stocked with catfish and bass, a large garden, 11 active beehives and a meadow with 10 miniature goats. Brookshire has always been drawn to goats. “Goats are like potato chips, you can’t have just two,” she says with a laugh.
Brookshire’s goats are a big part of the experience at Second Chance Farm. She recently began offering goat yoga at the farm. “Our yoga is more of an interaction,” Brookshire says. “I partner with Kathryn Stutey at Holden Beach Yoga. She teaches the class and I provide the goats. Participants come to the farm and put their mats in the grass and the goats interact with everyone. It is so much fun.” Brookshire says Reed has great ideas and has been a continued resource. “When you buy land, you are a visionary, and you need the nuts and bolts,” Brookshire says. “She gives you the nuts and bolts and helps you to continue to grow your business.”
Reed made her own dreams of owning a large farm become a reality. “My husband and I decided to look to the future,” Reed says. “It was a perfect time for me to transition. We ended up selling everything on the coast and our small farm. We found a 100-acre farm north of Winston-Salem.”
Their Farm at Buzzard Rock in North Hamptonville is home to Reed’s new Airbnb and numerous hiking trails. It is also home base for a digital learning lab, launched in September, where Reed teaches and offers agribusiness classes on-site and online.
Reed has also gotten back on the road with Farm School on Wheels, offering another tour of cities throughout the state.
The classes focus on lessons in access to capital for small businesses.
Farm School on Wheels has held a group class at Second Chance Farm. “It’s a great in-person experience and a way for us to meet and get our questions answered,” Brookshire says. Reed and her team have helped many entrepreneurs across the state make their dreams come. “I really divulge all the secret ingredients of getting you to resources and access to capital,” Reed says. “I’m a puzzle solver. I make it all fit together and help you pay for it.”
Have questions about an agribusiness idea?
Contact: Roxanne Reed, founder and CEO of Farm School on Wheels via farmschoolonwheels.com
Want to visit Second Chance Farm for Goat Yoga?
Contact: Kathryn Stutey at Holden Beach Yoga, (910) 713-9686
Contact: Kelly Brookshire on Facebook at Second Chance Farm or
Goat Yoga at Second Chance Farm- Kelly Brookshire
Farm School on Wheels- Janice Wright