OC was ‘the place to be’ for Ladies Ag Night
By Annette Tait
Annie White Carlson and Oliver Wendell Douglas each had a dream – to make a living raising their own food on their own land.
That’s where the resemblance mostly ends. While the fictitious Douglas, of TV sitcom “Green Acres” fame, went from one haphazard failure of a farming venture to the next, Carlson and her husband, John, have developed a successful sustainable farm, rooted in regeneration of resources.
The only remaining connection between Douglas and Annie Carlson is laughter. The Douglas family’s futile efforts at farming brought belly laughs to their TV audience, and Annie Carlson repeatedly brought smiles and laughter to the Ladies Ag Night crowd with her light-hearted descriptions of her family and their life at Morning Joy Farm.
“I’m the big dreamer, and John is the voice of reason,” Annie said, as she explained how Morning Joy Farm got its start.
The Carlsons’ adventure began as a community-supported agriculture endeavor, where the farm operation was supported by community shareholders who could visit the farm to see where their produce was being raised. The Carlsons raised produce, and sent a newsletter to their shareholders that included recipes and cooking tips.
“People suddenly cared about the weather,” Annie said. “If we got a hailstorm, they didn’t get lettuce. Suddenly, they cared – their food was no longer in a bin at the grocery store, it was in the soil.”
Annie tended the farming operations while John worked at a traditional job. Everything was on track for the couple and their growing family until John’s company was forced to downsize. Instead of using seniority as a guideline, names were drawn out of a hat and John came home with a layoff notice.
The CSA was working well, and the couple wondered if they could turn it into a living. They had heard respected farmer and lecturer Joel Salatin on a number of occasions, and googled Salatin to learn more about his work with local farming and grass-fed livestock.
“We discovered he wrote books – ‘You Can Farm,’ and ‘Pasture, Poultry, Profits,’” Annie said.