(Photo: Courtesy of LCT Team)
As a Realtor, Vickie Freas drives clients to house showings in a comfortable car, but she spends her spare time on her tractor or riding one of the eight horses on her mini farm south of Nashville.
Freas and her husband, Paul, are among the growing numbers of professionals who spend evenings and weekends tilling the soil, growing crops and tending livestock on tiny farms with just a few acres.
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“I supply all my neighbors with vegetables,” said Vickie Freas, whose 21-acre homestead was part of a 200-acre farm that was divided into small farms of five to 20 acres.
Lisa Culp Taylor, head of the LCT Team at Parks Realty (Photo: Submitted)
Interest in mini farms is growing, said Lisa Culp Taylor, head of the LCT Team of Parks real estate company.
“People are looking for a slower pace of life. There’s something peaceful about it. You’ve got a little bit of space around you,” said Taylor.
The LCT Team has listings for a half-dozen mini farms that are for sale in Williamson County. More are coming to the market.
This mini farm in Nolensville is surrounded by wooded areas, open meadows and a quaint creek.
(Photo: Courtesy of LCT Team)
CPS Land is bringing to market a 22-acre tract on Wilson Pike in Brentwood that is zoned for agricultural use or for large estate lots.
“We’ll either develop it as mini farms or ‘farmettes’ between four and six acres each,” said Rob Pease, CPS Land vice president.
Zoning would allow development of eight lots for single-family homes, but the company believes many home buyers like the idea of having more space.
“Do their own gardening, work the land, grow things, have horses, livestock or chickens. We’re seeing growing numbers of people who want that lifestyle,” said Pease.
At the same time, the Wilson Pike site offers convenient access to shopping, dining and offices in nearby Cool Springs, he said.
This Nolensville mini farm has a custom lodge-style home with four bedrooms and 5,451 square feet.
Some people interested in mini farms are tired of living in neighborhoods with restrictive HOA rules.
“Some people have lived in conventional subdivisions and would like more freedom of what they can do with their property,” said Pease.
Matt Horseman, director of the University of Tennessee agriculture extension service in Williamson County, said it’s not unusual to hear about a 200-acre farm being turned into several dozen small farms.
The extension service provides information and services to farms of all sizes and to farmers with all levels of experience.
“Novices certainly are growing” as a group. “They’ll call and say, ‘I live on a 1-acre farm,’ ” said Horseman.
“They’re in the middle of Franklin, but for two months in the summer, it is,” he said.
Many clients have never grown anything other than a grassy lawn and want advice on everything from growing plants to caring for chickens, goats or cows.
“An acre is tight, but you could” keep a small farm animal if zoning allows it. “Some people want their own steer, have their own meat,” while others might want to plant an orchard, said Horseman.
Few mini farmers have plans to grow enough produce to have a booth at a farmers market.
“They view it as a family experience, something they can do as a family. Instead of taking a walk, they go work with the chickens or the goats,” said Horseman.
Vickie Freas, a Realtor with LCT Team – Parks, has her current home, a scenic 15-acre mini farm in College Grove with a plethora of animals, listed for sale.
Vickie Freas, who is a Realtor with the LCT Team, said owning a mini farm offers the best of both worlds.
Vickie Freas, a Realtor with Parks Realty
“Having a mini farm, you get more privacy (and) you can still have a life outside the farm,” she said.
She and her husband are selling their College Grove property, which is listed for $1,298,000. It has two homes, one built in the 1890s, where they live, and a new, 6,200-square-foot-house.
They are selling the property as either one or two parcels and moving to an 80-acre piece of land south of Murfreesboro with more room for horses.
With that much land, Freas knows she will no longer own a mini farm.
“That will be more, for sure,” she said.