“Baby Boomers” Return Home to Manage Family Farm
After successful careers, Russell and Jewell Bean returned home to revive the family farm.
By Alice Love, Natural Resources Specialist, NRCS, Auburn, AL
In recent years, we have noticed baby boomers returning home! This generation is returning to family farms after retiring, relocating from other professions, or becoming caregivers to family members.
Russell and Jewell Bean of Barbour County, Alabama, did both! They returned to revive the family farm and to provide care to an ailing father.
The Bean Farm was purchased in 1912 by Jewell’s grandfather, Jessie Stanford. Roy (wife, Rosie L. Stanford, deceased), the son of Jessie Stanford and father of Jewell Stanford-Bean (the youngest of eight siblings), operated the farm until his health began to decline in 2002.
In 2008, Russell and Jewell Bean were ready and willing to provide necessary care to Roy and revive the Bean farming operation that had been idle for years. The farm is now the Stanford & Bean Farm, or commonly known as S&B Farm.
Russell and Jewell moved from Georgia, relocating their skills in nutrition and license appraisals to southern Alabama. With limited skills in operating a farm, they networked with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) outreach representatives, Tuskegee University Horticulturalist Mr. Victor Khan, and fellow producers in the area. They researched new technologies and attended various agricultural workshops and conferences to enhance their skills. The Beans embraced opportunities to learn and implement new technologies on the 88 acre family farm.
Russell is a graduate of the “2011 Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute” and Jewell is an active member of the Alabama Chapter of the National Women in Ag Association. They are presently active participants of the Winford Group demonstration farms in Alabama.
Through the efforts of Russell and Jewell, the farm now is now identified with a farm and tract number through the Farm Service Agency and identified as an Underserved Group as described in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Bill. These limitations provided them with financial assistance through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
In 2008 the Beans worked with the local NRCS Office in Barbour County, Alabama, to establish the farm’s first farm plan. The plan outlined the Bean’s vision of practicing sustainable conservation. Based on the items in the Farm Plan, the Bean’s applied for EQIP and was awarded a contract with incentive payments for the installation of conservation practices such as micro-irrigation, pastured poultry, a well, seasonal high tunnels (hoop-house), fencing, and a water facility.
The Beans not only sell their produce to markets, they share their harvest with the elderly, single parents, schools, etc. The Beans pride themselves in demonstrating a farm of dedication to protecting, enhancing, and developing natural and human resources.
They have also ventured into livestock production such as chickens, goats, turkeys, hogs, ducks, rabbits, and beef cattle. They use composting to maintain sustainability in their operation.
S&B Farm is an all-natural farm awaiting organic certification, based on the completion of the organic transitioning process.
Jewell and Russell are giving back to the community through job opportunities and established businesses. They hire local labors to assist in the harvesting of crops. Their main crops are collards greens and snap beans. Other crops grown are garlic, mixed salad greens, tomatoes, and turnips.
Russell and Jewell enjoy being part of rekindling the community spirit: “People doing Things for Other People.”
Their mission is “To Refurbish, Recycle, and Reinvent.” They aim to lower their carbon footprint by being good stewards to the land.
The Beans raise goats on S&B Farm.
(l-r) Tuskegee University Horticulturalist Mr. Victor Khan and others helped Jewel and Russell Bean with the knowledge on how to success using hoop houses.