Paige Witherington, farm manager–I grew up in West Tennessee and fell in love with farming the first time I put my hands in the dirt. That very first day volunteering on a farm, I learned so much and I was amazed that the most delicious lettuce that was enjoying for dinner was a product of my hard work.
I began managing Serenbe Farms in 2006 after spending a year and half working at Clemson’s Student Organic Farm, two years of farming and learning at the beautiful Sisters Hill Farm in the Hudson Valley of New York, and a handful of other farm work across the country.
After graduating from Clemson University with a degree in Biosystems Engineering, I decided I didn’t want to be an engineer; I wanted to create solutions by developing local food systems.
In my eighth season managing Serenbe Farms, I have enjoyed continually learning from nature, watching the land become healthier and more productive, seeing the quality and abundance of food we’ve produced, and being a part of a very supportive community — within Serenbe, Chattahoochee Hills, and beyond.
Justin and I enjoy managing the farm together and each have our own areas of expertise. We are newly engaged and are excited to make our long time commitment official. When we’re not farming or enjoying great food, you can find us on our mountain bikes, running trails, rock climbing, or anything else that pushes us in the great outdoors. See our adventure blog here.
Justin Dansby, farm manager–Born in South Carolina, I began working with my father on his tree farm at an early age. The fascination with planting and cultivating a crop to reap such an incredible reward got me hooked.
At Clemson University I majored in Computer Science and minored in Forestry. Upon graduation, I moved to Sisters Hill Farm in New York and began working as an intern. This internship solidified my future. I had a chance to be a key player on a working farm and was able to complete my own chicken livestock operation. Baking a fresh chicken with my own carrots and potatoes was the consummate experience I needed to change my life forever.
I’ve been at Serenbe Farms part-time for a few years and moved into a full-time position in 2010. I enjoy the many working facets of Serenbe Farms, it always keeps me on my toes. I feel lucky to live in a place where organic farming is truly respected as a career and our community is so involved.
Growing farmers is just as important as growing good food.
Ryan Carnley, 2013 apprentice – I am a native of Georgia, born and raised just west of Atlanta. I have loved being outdoors in nature since I can remember, and growing up I spent a lot of time outside in our family garden with my grandfather. This cultivated a love of growing vegetables in me that has never faded. I studied History and Political Science at Georgia State University, but after I began volunteering at Serenbe Farms last year I realized that my true love and passion was working the soil so I decided to switch career paths and go to school at Serenbe with Paige and Justin.
I am incredibly excited to begin this new journey and learn all I can about sustainable agriculture, I hope to become a good soil steward and help to push the local food movement forward in the future through community building, education, and providing the good clean food people need.
Brad Morris, 2013 apprentice — I have lived in the Atlanta area for over twelve years now, moving here after graduating college with a degree in sociology from a small school in Arkansas. I have been in the restaurant industry cooking with chefs who stress the importance of local, fresh food. This is where I learned my appreciation for farmers, their work, and their product.
I have done an internship on a livestock farm and now I am ready to learn to grow amazing vegetables. I have always been at the end of a vegetables life cycle and now I want to see it all from the very beginning. I am really excited about being a part of this years growing season.
Serenbe Farms Past Apprentices:
Maya Velasco (2011 and 2012 apprentice/assistant manager)–farm manager Summerland Farm, Cartersville, GA– Maya’s hard work has certainly paid off! After seasons of trail work, volunteering on a farm, and spending two seasons learning and working with us here at Serenbe Farms, she’s landed a position that most rockstar farmers would only dream of. Maya’s the farm manager for Anne Quatrano, known to many as one of the best chefs in Atlanta and owner of Bacchanalia, Floataway Cafe, Abbatoir, and Star Provisions with her husband Clifford Harrison. We can’t wait to see what great things Maya will provide for these restaurants and the Farmstand at Star Provisions.
Christine White (2012 apprentice)–farmer at Full Moon Farm and manager at farm-t0-table restaurant Farm 255 -- Christine headed back to Athens to combine two things that she excels at — farming and organizing. She’s working both at the farm to table restaurant Farm 255, leading up events and working the front of the house as well as spending time on the sister farm — Full Moon Farm. This combination seems like a great thing since she’s able to put faces with the food and keep the restaurant and the farm interconnected and working together efficiently.
MK and Andrew Barnet (2008 apprentices)–farm owners and managers, Open Book Farm, Myersville, Maryland–“Going in, I had no idea that 9 short months would leave me pathologically addicted to farming.” 2010 brought MK to Barre, MA, where she managed one acre of vegetables as part of a “Whole Farm” CSA (milk, meat, eggs, and veg). Since, Andrew and MK (who met at Serenbe Farms!) have tied the knot and are now running a successful farm operation. Their goal is simple…growing good food and good farmers. UPDATE: MK and Andrew have a new addition to their farm family! Sylvan Barnet was born this spring!
John Ashley Davis (part time apprentice 2010)–farm manager Cosmos Organic Farm, East Point, GA–John found an old farm in residential area that sits on 14 acres with 2 acres in cultivation. It’s been passed on from the previous farming generation and he’ll preserve and foster the land and provide his community with great, organic produce.
Ryan Graycheck (2011 apprentice)–farmer, Greyfield Garden–Ryan manages Greyfield Garden on beautiful Cumberland Island. He is responsible for growing organic vegetables, herbs, and fruit for the chefs and cut flowers to be used as table arrangements at the Greyfield Inn. The opportunity to grow fresh organic food and utilize his landscape design knowledge is a great fit for Ryan’s skill set.
Jack Matthews (2008 apprentice)–past farm manager, Full Moon Farm, now student at UGA,–Jack spent a successful year and a half farming at Cure Organic Farm in Boulder, CO. Since then he moved back to his native Georgia where he managed the CSA and vegetable operation at Full Moon Farms in Athens. ”I believe my experience with Paige led me to discover a lifestyle and love for agriculture that I might not have otherwise found. I continue to build upon the education I received at Serenbe Farms, and look forward to the years of farming ahead.” Currently Jack has a beautiful family and is working towards a Masters degree at the University of Georgia.
Ashley Rodgers (2010 apprentice) and RJ Kessler (2007 apprentice)–farmers, Planted Rock Farm, Chattahoochee Hills, GA–They’ve got 3.5 acres under cultivation focusing on vegetable production. They sell their veggies at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market on Saturdays and have a CSA program with drop off points in Atlanta.
Natalie Sevin (2009 apprentice)–farm manager Sugar Creek Farm, Advance, NC–We’re a 2 acre vegetable farm and grow food for the Winston-Salem farmers markets, our farm share program, and restaurants. Its’ been three years now since I pulled a weed out of Serenbe Farms, but it’s not unusual to find myself doing some random task saying “In Georgia we did it like this…”
Gretchen Weiher (2010 apprentice)–Gretchen returned to her roots in Ohio and the 2011 season found her at Turner Farm, just outside of Cincinnati. ”I learned so much that first year of farming at Serenbe Farms. Paige and Justin are a wealth of farming knowledge and know-how and provided me with a solid foundation upon which to grow. It was an indispensable experience.” At Turner Farm, Gretchen got to play with the animal side of farming and fell in love with the dairy cow. The 2012 season is taking her to an organic dairy where she’ll learn a new set of skills and commune with cows.