Organic Farmer Stays Busy Through the Drought

By: Stacy McCloud
By: Stacy McCloud

Lakeview Farm, Grainger County (WVLT) - The rain we're seeing will certainly help, but it won't quite be enough to fill our nearly 12 inch rain deficit.

As we've been showing you for the past couple weeks, it looks like the damage is done for most area farmers.

But Volunteer TV’s Stacy McCloud ran into one farmer who says the drought is doing everything but drying up business for him.

Welcome to Lakeview Farm. Where on any day, at literally any hour,

"Sometimes I'm out here picking corn at 2 or 3 in the morning,” you'll find lone farmer, Jerry Baird. "I do it all the old fashioned way, what I've got I've earned"

If he's not doing the typical picking and planting, he's out feeding his vegetarian fed, rather spoiled, hens, or tending to even the most unpleasant of tasks making his own pesticide free fertilizer.

Sweat and smell, being a farmer is the one thing Baird's always wanted, "this is my dream,” he says.

Putting in 15 to 20 hours a day, he's certainly living that dream, but unlike many farmers he's also making a living.

As far as the eye can see are dozens of rows of corn, "this here is old hickory cane corn.”

Peppers, cucumbers, great big tomatoes, the list goes on, "okra, beets, beans, sweet potatoes.”

And on, "watermelon, cantaloupe, wild blueberries"

Just like every other farmer in East Tennessee, Baird has hardly seen a drop of rain, so how does he do it?

It's not that the grass grows greener here in Granger County, he knows plenty farmer's affected.

His secret lies about 100 feet down under.

"15 seconds it will pump 5 gallons of water,” he says.

Two wells sit on Baird’s property. "All I gotta do is raise that handle there and I've got water."

Water lines run to six different outlets. Hooked up to them, is hundreds of yards of drip line that wrap individually around each plant, sending water straight to a certain spot.

"The weeds don't grow but the corn and beans does," he explains.

Since no chlorine can be present in water used on certified organic farms, the drought is really hurting those farmers.

"You have to use lake water, rain water or well water,” leaving Baird especially grateful that a well thought out plan years ago is certainly not biting him, in a bad way that is, many years later.

Since he does have plenty to sell, the drought is keeping him busy, so Baird mainly takes special orders.

But you can find him selling his produce in Knoxville on Market Square every Wednesday and Saturday.

Baird arrives at around 9:30, but says you should arrive at the square early because he says some days he sells out of everything by 2:00.

He also requires pre-ordering for many items, such as honey, eggs, and corn.

The Lakeview Organic Farm can be reached at (865) 767-3766.


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