Faith and William Ellis, Sr. are generational farmers who are farming the land of their grandfathers in New Boston, Texas. William was born on the farm he now owns and operates, Long Walks Spring Farm, and grew up working alongside his father and grandfather. After graduating from college, he worked in the corporate world and when he retired, he decided to return to the 80-acre farm that had been in his family for 150 years. Over the years, the farm has produced cows, chickens, vegetables, and fruits, including beans, greens, cucumbers, squash, watermelons, and tomatoes., as well as sorghum and ribbon cane for syrup the family markets.
Although they are socially disadvantaged farmers, they worked hard to build success, both on their farm and in their community. Today the Ellises grow specialty crops for local markets. They are experiencing success, they said, because of the history of their farm land, research and information from local 1890 land grant Extension, and social media marketing, in addition to the relationships they have built in their community.
The Ellises share knowledge on food preservation and cooking, and they encourage people, including the younger population, to grow their own food. They also work in the community, sharing knowledge from farming ancestors and working to revive their farming community that had died.
Major barriers for the Ellises are accessing funding to revive the farm infrastructure in order to work the present-day crops and animals and restore the land back to its original state, and racism. These challenges impact opportunities and hinder accomplishments on their farm.
The Ellises offer wise advice to fellow farmers: Go back to your farming ancestors and learn from their skills, experience, and traditions. If you have legacy farm land, put it in a trust and farm, as it takes a family and a community to manage a successful farm. Finally, share your knowledge and experience.