Last summer Fabgrandpa and I were doing a series of posts about local farms and farmers. We went to several farms in the area, interviewed the farmers about their gardening methods, bought produce from them, and posted recipes using the vegetables we bought.
One of the farms we found by driving around, and saw their sign on the road. FreeCountry Farm is only about seven or eight miles from us. When we drove up to the house on the property the first day, we met one of the employees on a tractor. He told us the owner was not there, and that if we left a business card he would be glad to give it to her.
A few days later, I got a phone call from Eve, the owner of FreeCountry. She said she would be delighted to have me interview her, but she was going to be having a luncheon in a week or so, with representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and the 4-H Club. She invited me and Fabgrandpa to attend that luncheon, with a presentation about the farm and its goals. I was so excited to be included in a meeting like that. She told me in that phone call that they did not sell vegetable to the public, that there customers were restaurants in the Atlanta area that participated in the “farm to market” program, and served organically grown produce in their establishments.
The presentation was about an hour and a half, where the presenters talked about the mission of the farm, that they were a non-profit organization and that their goal was to teach others how to farm organically. They had developed a “franchise” where they would sell you their raised bed irrigated system, teach you how to use it, and help you find a market for your crops. The resident farmer, the owner’s son, drew out the “system” on a whiteboard, showing how if you plant in a certain configuration that you would increase production of the plants exponentially. The whole thing was amazing to hear. Then there was an architect that spoke about what the plans for buildings and gardening sections were, and how they would accomplish their plans.
After the presentation, the luncheon, was served. All of the dishes they served were organically grown vegetables that they said were harvested from the farm. They were all so delicious, and presented in nice array by a chef hired for the occasion. The topic of conversation at lunch was how the owner of the farm wanted to work closely with the 4-H Club. They were offering a plot of land about an acre in size, where the children could plant an organic garden, learn organic gardening techniques, harvest their own crops, and sell them at the local farmer’s markets to raise money for their club. It all sounded too good to be true. There was even some talk about a community garden to benefit more people in the area.
While I was at the farm that day, I offered to come over once a week and do some volunteer work, like helping them on their website, writing articles for their blog, posting recipes, and things like that. However, that same week, my mother got sick and went into the hospital. She wound up in the hospital and a physical rehab facility for almost three months. Fabgrandpa and I had to spend three days a week visiting with her in a town 45 miles away, so I was not able to start doing anything at the farm. As time went on, it got more and more embarrassing to think about going over there to offer to do anything. So, I just didn’t go.
It may have been divine intervention. Last week, my mother called to ask if I had watched the evening news the day before. I had not, because I almost never watch the news. Then Mama asked me what the name of that farm was that I had told her about last summer. She said there was a report about them on the news. So, of course, I had to go look for it.
I found this on the Fox 5 News website:
A Fox 5 I-Team investigation discovered one so-called organic sustainable farm in Haralson County never delivered on its promises to dozens of Atlanta restaurants.
Even worse, former employees tell law enforcement the CEO of Free Country Farm defrauding them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, using their personal credit information to set up American Express cards for the company. They’re personally responsible for outrageous credit card balances.
What do you think about this situation? Is she a scammer, or did she really think she could follow through on her promises. I am on the fence, because if she was a scammer, she wouldn’t have sent refunds to the restaurants. But if she is really on the level, wouldn’t she pay off those credit cards that she got in her employee’s names?