My husband Nathan grew up on a farm in Hart County, Kentucky. his family grew commodity crops: corn, soy, tobacco. Tobacco paid his way off the farm and into college so that - like many young people at the turn of the century - he could pursue a “career.” We both received degrees in agriculture from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY, and after graduation we were both hired by the University of Kentucky to assist tobacco farmers transition to fruit and vegetable crops. Ultimately, we were given the hard task of helping farmers stay on their family farm.
My personal food story began in childhood, having limited access to fresh food. While my single mother wanted nothing more than to provide me with high-quality food, the realities of our circumstances meant that wasn’t often possible. When I was 16 I started working at a local orchard and my ideas about food began to transform. I loved to witness people experience the first peach of the season and the celebration of apples every fall. I began to see an opportunity to create a connection between people and all of the foods that can be grown in Kentucky year-round.
In April 2011, together with a group of other farmers, makers and community leaders, Nathan and I started Community Farmers Market in Bowling Green, Kentucky. From the beginning, food access and helping people farm full-time has been our mission. We’ve encountered life experiences that strengthened our connection to locally grown and seasonal foods and, over time, began growing more of those foods ourselves. In April 2013, the Howell family became full-time farmers on only two acres, thus the name of our family’s farm: Need More Acres.
Together with our five children, Carter, Elizabeth, Lilah, Adaline and Sterling, we have settled in on 20 acres in Halfway, Kentucky. We now provide an all-you-can-eat, full diet farm membership for a dozen or so families, continue to sell at our beloved Community Farmers Market, and source to local businesses and organizations like HOME Cafe & Marketplace, Boyce General Store, HOTEL INC, Bowling Green and Scottsville schools, and Meals INC.