I’ve known since I started farming in 1982 that running a mid-sized family farm is a tall order. Reeling from a drought and the government dairy buy-out, which caused cattle prices to plunge, I founded the Laura's Lean Beef Company. We raised antibiotic and hormone-free natural beef. Three Decades ago, I might have been ahead of the times, but the market caught up, and Laura's became a prosperous national company.
This time around (We sold Laura’s in 2008 and I’ve recovered from a serious horseback riding accident.) I'm doing something similar in spirit, but different in important ways. My products still are good for our health and the health of family farms. But we are going local, limiting highway food miles, and pairing the local with the global through an online store, Laura's Mercantile.
Here at Mt. Folly, we are one of the largest organic grain farms in the state. We participate in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s hemp pilot program, and we still have a top-flight cow herd. The health benefits of hemp led us to make Laura’s Hemp Chocolates and Homestead Alternatives CBD Hemp Tincture. Mt. Folly’s heritage grains are so good, we built a granary, where we mill cornmeal, grits, and unique Turkey Red wheat. Since our local economy is part of our plan, we are renovating an historic building for a distillery, and have launched The Moonshine Trail.
We have restored a 1790’s pioneer log house, now with all the modern conveniences. This is our rental, available most weekends. Just behind it is “Laura’s Mercantile at the Crooked House,” a Saturday farm store and center for farm walks or just poking around. This summer, the Friends of Dry Ridge are in full swing, preserving and researching the history of a nearby African American Community founded in 1863 by Moses Robinson, a free man of color.
As you can tell, we are always busy. But as a guest, you can get away…just hike to the back. There is barely cell phone coverage. It’s great.
In the 1920’s, her guests seated for a dinner party in the dining room of her “Delco House,” Rachel Ware Bush watched the lights dim as she served the soup. She nodded to her husband to go outside and pour more kerosene in the generator to charge the battery bank in the basement. She laughed, rapped her fork on her glass, raised a toast and christened the home place “Mt. Folly.” So goes the story my grandmother told me, and thus it stays: Mt. Folly Farm, cobbled together from pioneer holdings, Civil War exigencies, and Fortuna. Now, family and friends tell me that to call our place Mt. Folly is disrespectful. I disagree. The name is almost 100 years old, so I'm keeping it.