Fostering Holistic Community and Relationships with Leslie Logan BrownMar 09, 2022
Leslie is an amazing woman. She is a mother, farmer, and entrepreneur. Here’s her story.
Q. I wanna hear your story, how in the world did you get to developing Haven Farm, which is a massive project? Give me that origin in your entrepreneurial journey.
I’ve been a part of garden life my whole life because my family’s garden center goes back 57 years and I'm a 3rd generation owner. I’ve always been involved from the retail side because we are a retail business and family, so that really set the framework for what I do.
As I grew into my individual interests, I really got into essential oils and I became really curious about how things from the Earth can heal our bodies, minds, and spirits. So one day in prayer, I heard God say that I should buy land. I told my dad and he helped me find our haven, our land that we’re on today in Knightdale. We started small, growing watermelons and the like, but after dealing with some anxiety that I found I couldn’t shake through prayer, I went to my holistic doctor who suggested I try CBD, and it changed my life! My son, who was watching all of this, told me he wanted to grow hemp on our farm to help other people heal as well, and everything evolved from there.
We’ve been pursuing the creation of a venue space for gatherings of community and for people to get connected to the Earth. We’re so busy sometimes and we’re so disconnected from the Earth, and I want to make space for people to come back to the Earth and discover all that is waiting for them here.
Q.What was it like to grow up in an entrepreneurial household?
Both sides of my family were entrepreneurs. My father’s side was the garden center side and on my mother’s side, my grandfather was a builder who built up much of Beaufort, North Carolina. A lot of the dinner table conversations followed the lines of, “How’s the business going? How’s this employee doing? What policies are we gonna adjust or put in place? How do we grow, save, and give?”
There are a couple of things that stand out to me from your question:
- Growing in the mindset, “I am creator. I can create things because I am powerful and I have the ability to create whatever it is that I’m thinking or dreaming about.” That was the mindset that I was raised in. It made it second nature to me to understand business, employees and what happens behind the scenes.
- I was expected to work harder than anyone else. I got no slack from being the bosses kid. I was expected to do the jobs that no one else wanted to do. Get there early and stay there late. It gave me a real sense of appreciation for our employees and that’s something I’m forever grateful for.
- On the flip side, as a mom, it also cultivates that work never stops. Something I had to learn was that, work is here for us to serve the greater purpose of who we are and as an expression of who we are, but there’s a time when you have to set it aside for family. There’s a time where you have to make space and carve out a sabbath because without that refilling the bucket, you don’t have anything to offer because you’re running on fumes.
What’s really been pulling at my heart when creating Haven, is creating a space where people can step away.
Q. How has the deepening of the connection with the Earth cultivated that knowledge? The Earth works and rests in seasons within a beautiful rhythm, has informed some of the growth in your relationship to work?
In capitalism and retail, the mindset is that you go 100% of the time, but there doesn’t seem to be the space to rest or reset, watch, or recede. One of the things the Earth and the scripture teaches us is that there’s a season for everything. There’s a season to sow, a season to wait. There’s a season to reap the harvest, and there’s a season for planning and resting.
I think the winter has taught me more than anything. When you think about seasons that are slow, especially when you consider it in business, the temptation is to take the mindset of, “I’m not being productive enough or making enough money right now” But the truth of it is that every plant needs to rest. Every body needs to rest. The thing about winter is that it’s the time when the plant grows the most.
Q. Could you expand on that for someone who may feel like they’re in their own winter season and encourage them in this time?
One thing I heard in my heart is that the trees are never worried about becoming trees. They are what they are meant to be and they will become that in season. They’re not concerned about how much they grow per day. What would happen if we took a moment to look a bit deeper and find out what’s calling us to that next place of growth because when I show back up on the scene, I’m gonna have more branches in bloom, and you’re gonna be wowed by the color because I’m going to have given that time to rediscover. I think all good businesses that do really well give space for rediscovery. They constantly evolve in the way they allow you to know them.
Q. What does it look like to have business as an expression of your divinity?
I knew you were gonna ask this because I just read it this morning in my devotion. “Your expression of your divinity, by being alive and by loving yourself and others is an expression of God to say, ‘Hey world, I love you.’” That’s a perfect thing to express here because as you said, we’re spiritual beings having a human experience. What we truly get the opportunity to be is God in the Earth. So the more fully I can know myself, the more fully I express God in the Earth.
The Earth is waiting for us to fully discover who we are and to re-present that to the Earth. My husband helped me to see this clearly: if God is Source and we want to become a resource, all we’re doing is giving back who He is. By giving who we are, we give back who He is, so we become the re-source.
Q. In what ways are you practically cultivating community on the Haven farm? How would you help other community builders build on their journey?
I’m born and raised in Raleigh, but I feel like it’s been this last five years that I’ve been able to cultivate community the way that I felt called to and that’s because I got out of my own boxes. We really need to make those one-on-one human connections.
I would challenge people to get out of their normal routine and find somebody different than you. Take the risk of going to a coffee shop with someone you don’t know or reaching out to people on social media.
We reached out to the North Carolina Nature School and now we have a working relationship so they’re going to be doing classes and camps out here at Haven. It was so simple! I saw them online, and I loved what they were doing, so I just reached out to them.
Q. What is the vibe you’re putting out and what types of people should be reaching out and connecting to you? Who are you feeling like you’re called to serve?
People who feel a calling to other people, to serve. Service to others is the vibe. I’m looking for people who are looking for what they do to be a resource. My friend Mama Salsa, she sells salsa, but at the end of the day, she wants to give back to the community. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I really have a heart for helping and serving communities of color. There needs to be a shift and an equal space in our community for opportunity. That’s something we’re looking to grow as an extension of Haven, a non-profit or foundation that would enable entrepreneurs to connect to the resources to help their dreams grow.
I’m also loving connectivity groups like the Women’s Social Club and there’s also groups where you’re just looking at farms who are looking to grow other farmers like Sankofa Farms and Faithful farms with Howard Allen.
Q. What advice would you give to someone starting out in the agricultural business?
- Start small. While a lot of things look really cool on Instagram, gardening and farming is work and you wanna start small and appreciate that growth in incremental ways. If you’re not a landowner and you want to get involved, find a community garden where you can have a plot of land that you can be the space with other people who may be more experienced than you and you’d be able to have a smaller place to grow, learn about it, and see if it’s something you really want to do. I can be that resource to connect people to community gardens. At our garden center we have a program called “Plant a Row for the Hungry” where community members plant food for themselves and give their surplus to the hungry.
If that’s not really calling to you, start with the things that you love and start growing those things at home on your back porch or yard in a 4x4 plot or or container garden. Find someone to give you tips along the way.
- If you’re looking to start on a larger scale, the first thing you want to do when you’re looking at land is do some testing on the soil because the dirt is everything. If you’re looking to start a farm or garden on a larger scale, you have to consider where the water is on the land and how can I get water to this land. Those are the first questions to consider.
Q. How does that apply to other businesses and their environment, the soil, etc?
You want to learn more about the thing that you’re trying to set out and do, and do that well first. So if you want to grow some tomatoes, learn how to grow some really juicy tomatoes. Ten plants before you learn how to plant ten rows. In other words, you want to start in a place that’s manageable for you so you can give your full self to that product.
To me, your soil is your community. You want to be planted in a place that’s rich and full of the nutrients you need in order to grow well. You’re looking for places where the community is able to feed what you’re growing and you can give back to that. On a farm, you’re constantly adding back to your soil with compost and nutrients. You want to produce things with excellence and you do that with a tribe of like-minded people. The richer the community, the richer the soil.
Q. Where do people find you and how do they connect with you?
You can find us on our website at Haven-farm.com, but I think the easiest way to connect with us is on Instagram or Facebook. We’re constantly showing our progress on the farm and we’d love to connect with people there. We’re hoping to start having some events there within the next couple of months, like a pop-up garden center to get some traffic going. I almost forgot to mention that we’re also building a shop on the farm and we’re curating products from other aligned entrepreneurs so people can come and get locally sourced plant based medicines and other products.
Thanks for joining us! You can follow Leslie and the farm at @haven_farm and watch the full interview below!
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