How Young Produce Farmers Turned Their Hobby Into a Full-Time Venture

small farms

Photo by Michael Tedesco

Although both Kaci and Amos Nidiffer, the husband-and-wife team who own and operate Trosly Farm in Elk Park, have strong familial ties to agriculture, it wasn’t until the pair attended college that they decided to give farming a try.

The couple met while attending Milligan College in northeastern Tennessee in the early 2000s, and Amos says they felt inspired by the local food movement that was starting to gain ground.

Neither Kaci nor Amos were pursuing ag-related majors, but they helped create a garden club with their peers and grew crops on campus, and eventually added egg-laying chickens to the mix. In addition, they worked at a nearby farm with dairy cattle and goats where they learned to make cheese, and Amos soon took over his father’s backyard garden in Western North Carolina.

“We wanted to learn as much about production agriculture as we could, and we absolutely fell in love with it,” Amos says.

Shortly after graduating from college, Kaci and Amos began seeking out a place to establish a farm of their own – and the rest, as they say, is history.

small farms

Photo by Michael Tedesco

Trosly Farm Is Born

In 2009, the Avery County Farm Bureau members purchased what is now known as Trosly Farm, which is named after a small village in northern France that is home to one of their heroes, humanitarian and author Jean Vanier.

According to Amos, Vanier believes in and demonstrates many of the things he and Kaci want their farm to embody – belonging, celebration and peace, for example – and the name “Trosly” serves as a daily reminder of their ultimate goals.

“Trosly is where Jean Vanier started L’Arche [a global network of communities for the intellectually disabled],” Amos says. “It’s not an institution; it’s a place where people of all abilities share life together. Kaci and I love his mission, and he continues to inspire us today.”

If You Go...

Trosly Farm
95 Peter Harding Ln., Elk Park
For holiday market hours, call (828) 733-4938.

As they were launching their operation, Kaci and Amos started small. They both still had off-the-farm jobs and weren’t sure if they would make Trosly Farm a full-time venture. Amos says they had a handful of chickens, turkeys and goats, and with the help of a neighbor, they created a garden behind their home.

“We thought this might be a hobby farm for us,” Amos says. “We were just happy to have some space – about 4 acres – but we decided to see if we could generate some income from the farm, and we quickly realized there was a market for our products.”

The couple began a membership-based Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture, which still exists today, and they sold artisan bread – made by Amos, who developed an interest in breadmaking after traveling to Germany and Austria in high school and college – at a local farmers market. In addition, they raised broiler chickens and sold the meat locally.

After about five years of getting their feet wet, Kaci and Amos made the leap to full-time farming.

small farms

Photo by Michael Tedesco

Finding Success as a “Real, Small Farm”

Today, Trosly Farm grows vegetables nearly year round, with seasonal produce sold to local restaurants and available to CSA members on a weekly basis from April through November. Each CSA box contains five to eight different items, often including herbs and fresh bread, and members can expect to receive everything from kale and carrots to heirloom tomatoes,
butternut squash and cucumbers.

Described by Kaci and Amos as a “real, small farm,” Trosly Farm focuses on creating a healthy, natural ecosystem that is strong, biodiverse and resilient.

“We’re an ecological farm,” Amos says. “We’ve been inspired by traditional farmers overseas in countries like Italy and France where, in many cases, no space is wasted and food traditions have been passed down from one generation to the next for decades.”

trously farm

Photo by Michael Tedesco

Holiday Market Happenings

Kaci and Amos also grow and sell flowers, with bouquets and arrangements available at the Johnson City Farmers Market in Tennessee and by request, and they operate a holiday market that’s open on weekends after Thanksgiving through the Christmas season. The market features Kaci’s famous chocolate truffles, along with other handmade chocolates, artisan breads, herbs, spices, infused vinegars, gift baskets and more.

Trosly Farm has an online store, too, enabling people across the state – and the country – to enjoy their products.

“Looking back, it’s hard to believe we ever considered doing anything else,” Amos says. “Kaci and I are so happy that we’re able to raise our children here, and it’s exciting for us to be able to feed our family with things we’ve grown and harvested. Plus, we feel lucky to do something we love every day and call it our ‘job’ – we’re having a lot of fun.”

– Jessica Walker Boehm

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