“ERR-ER ER-ER EEERRRRRRRR!” I crack one eye open and peek out the window. The Sky is busy creating his morning masterpiece in the clouds with purples, pinks, oranges, blues, and yellows while our rooster, Rex, is busy reminding his lovely ladies who the best stud around is. Who needs to set an alarm when Mother Nature serenades me every morning? After rising, checking on all of the animals, and taking a walk through our garden, it’s time to sit for a moment in front of the rising sun and just be. This is a moment I have fantasized about since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.
My journey towards sustainability began when I became aware of our connection with Nature. We are not separate from Nature, we are Nature, and everything in existence serves a purpose in the web of life. When I was little, this realization ignited the spark which grew into a wildfire of passion for working to help protect the land. I decided to major in Environmental Science at a local university. I became the greenhouse worker on campus and assisted with many environmental studies. It was there that I learned how conventional agriculture is a huge driver for climate change. This gave me the idea to become entirely self-sufficient on my own land one day. After two years of study I met my future husband, Gabriel, and transferred to OSU. Once there I changed my majors to better equip myself to contribute to the cause of mitigating climate change and all of the economic, environmental, and social issues that are created by it.
While living in the Pacific Northwest, I witnessed the havoc that climate change is having on our planet. I experienced extreme drought conditions and had smoke and ash drift onto me from a wildfire that was burning more than a hundred miles away. When we escaped the hustle and bustle of city life for camping on the coast, I saw the effects that agricultural runoff is having on our waters and the organisms residing in them. I knew it was time to start walking the walk. Gabriel and I made the decision to work towards owning our own farm and specializing in regenerative agriculture.
We moved back to Arkansas and soon after our daughter, Saffie, was born. She made the push to be 100% self-sufficient and all-natural all the more important. Our farm odyssey began in 2018 inside a small, two-bedroom apartment, by growing microgreens. Our micro-farm, Wandering Roots, sold microgreens to dozens of restaurants, stores, and three farmer’s markets. It was fun and we cultivated many friendships and networks. We were also searching for the perfect spot of land and eventually found it: a sizable plot on top of a small mountain in the Ozarks. We have installed some small solar energy setups and have amazing wind energy potential here as well, water sources, and quality pasture and soil. My advice to those still looking for their dream land, don’t settle. Your perfect spot is out there.
Our journey is nowhere near complete. We currently have some chickens, guineas, and a 6400 square foot garden and plan on having several varieties of animals and creating a permaculture-based farm and education center for others to come, stay, and learn all about self-sufficiency skills and regenerative farming. We are excited to continue evolving and share what we learn with my roles and projects at AEF.
Article graphic created by: Cevahir Ozruh
Nikki Orozco is from central Arkansas and is currently located in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas. She graduated from Oregon State University with a B.A. in Natural Resources and a B.A. in Sustainability while specializing in regenerative agriculture.
Her passion is achieving true sustainability economically, ecologically, and socially. At AEF she is a program specialist and she loves heirloom seeds and heritage breeds, farming, learning new skills, and being outdoors.