In 2007, Jeni and Daniel Dover began Darby Farms to cure Daniel’s body and mind of constant fatigue and depression after a lifetime of eating dead food and two and a half years of being vegetarian. Utilizing three acres of pasture owned by his wife's family, the Darbys in Monroe, GA, Jeni and Daniel resolved to feed themselves and their family, friends, and neighbors nutrient dense food. They started with a market garden, moving next to raising laying hens, and then to meat chickens. On those three acres, Daniel and Jeni learned the thrill and excitement of growing your own food and its tribulations.
In 2010, after realizing the need for more land, the farm expanded and a lease was signed for a farm house with 50 acres of pasture and 20 acres of mixed hard wood and pine in Good Hope, GA. Seven years passed and animal diversification grew with the incorporation of sheep, hogs, and cattle— completing the mimicry of the great plains with all its symbiotic relationships. Top soil increased exponentially, the dung beetles returned to the fields, and the farm started making a profit.
In late 2017, elderberry syrup, an age-old wellness tradition that Jeni had made and given to her family since 2011, came into the mainstream in the US. Jeni and Daniel saw the opportunity to plant, grow, harvest, and produce elderberry syrup locally. Darby Farms Elderberry Syrup is now widely distributed throughout America.
This success inspired Jeni and Daniel to diversify the farm further to plant medicinal and food producing plants and trees in an integrated system with animals called silvopasture. The silvopasture technique is thousands of years old and, merged with modern day technologies of electric fencing, water management, and plant selection, just might be the key to climate change mitigation. More healing products will be offered in the coming months.
In 2020, Darby Farms raised 3000 laying hens, 200 laying ducks, 200 turkey, 50 pigs, 20 head of sheep, a few head of cattle, and planted more elderberry, black walnut, black locust, blueberry, and chestnut plants.
Journey to Wellness
In 2017, it was time to make the leap of buying a farm. Jeni and Daniel searched from Georgia, to Tennessee, to the Carolinas. Finally, they decided on 80 acres with a house in Unions Mills, NC. With the help of the USDA Farm Service Agency loan program, funding was secured. Now as the owners of the land they farm, the potential for innovation has increased.