I first arrived at Twin Oaks Farm three years ago, on an evening long after the sun had set. I checked my directions for the dozenth time and confirmed that they did indeed say to turn off the well lit highway when I saw the pitch black playground, down the unpaved gravel road lined on each side by trees, and onto the first driveway on the right. “It’s a long driveway, so you won’t be able to see the house from the road,” the directions warned. As I flicked on my brights and turned down the unpaved street, my travel buddy and friend, Alison, showed the same raised-eye-brows skepticism I felt. This was beginning to feel like the plot of a horror movie: naive college girls want to play farmer and are never heard from again.
Luckily that plot never played out. As soon as we got to the house, we were warmly greeted by the farm owner, Renee Savary. We sat down to dinner and stayed at the table for hours talking. The next morning, bright and early at 6 AM, we got to work. And there was much to be done. The farm was just getting on its feet. Only months earlier, Renee had left her condo and South Beach real estate business in Miami to move onto a 94 acre property in Bonifay, Florida, about an hour north of Panama City. She was learning as she went along, and started with a grove of fruit trees, a garden, some hens, and two painfully noisy guinea hens. We helped her build new coops and collect the first eggs.
Much has changed in the last three years. Now, Renee raises chickens, ducks, sheep, geese, and donkeys, oh my. Her eggs are certified organic and her preserves are a hit. They have even been featured in Southern Living. The days of collecting farm fresh eggs one at a time and carrying each within the palm of a hand are a distant memory. Now, Twin Oaks Farm yields buckets of eggs each day.
I’ll be spending a few weeks here, trying my hand at small scale farming once again, a job that Renee is quick to point out demands, “15 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.” I’ll be posting updates and plenty of photos in the coming weeks, while working to develop some much more polished pieces on the side.
I thought I’d start by introducing you to the farm at my favorite time of day: sunset. Many of my most vivid memories from my last stay here are snapshots of sunsets, and the sky at the end of each day so far has not disappointed.