From a young age, Ayanna Hill dreamed of living in the country and working as a veterinarian. Even though reality didn’t play out in the way that her dreams might have dictated, she is now a beginning farmer with 12 acres in Richmond, Texas, and lots of potential and community support. She still has an off-farm job but hopes to someday be able to support herself and her family from the fruits of her labor on the farm. Her career in information technology makes it difficult to both manage the farm and work her off-farm job, but she is trying to focus and plan a strategy that will yield a positive return on investment and allow her to transition away from her office job and into farming full-time. Thus far, she has developed an online presence registered her business as an LLC, and she has been experimenting with gardening. She also dedicates some of her time to research into production methods and participating in groups that support local farmers, women, and people of color.
Ayanna uses her backyard garden to experiment with various crops. Though she hasn’t yet sold her products, she has been able to donate to the community and to various events in recent months.
After 20 years of renting her land out to graziers and leaving it fallow, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred Ayanna to begin reflecting and cultivating the idea of starting a farm business in earnest. One of the enterprises that she is most eager to develop is based around hemp production. She already has a license to produce hemp and plans to grow it for grain to produce a value-added snack line and hemp-derived textiles.
She has been speaking with local chefs to explore the possibility and feasibility of creating a You-Pick operation for both the chefs and the local community. Ayanna is also interested in incorporating agrotourism with the addition of yurts or converted silos and a “green technology” space for the surrounding rural community to her multifaceted business model.
Ayanna expressed that she needs more time to dedicate to the farm business in order to develop its infrastructure, design, and workflow. She’s already taken on a lot and has been able to roll with the punches, and she remains determined to move forward toward her goal of leaving her 9-5 and being able to impact the community that surrounds her in a positive way through farming.