“Since day one of starting my own farm in 2013, I’ve always dreamed of being able to step outside my back door and go to work, walking out to my nursery in pajamas to check on the plants,” says Camille Abdel-Nabi, who spent a decade commuting two hours each day to Exeter to tend rented land at Little River Farm. Now, with Long Lane Farm, she and wife Devin can trade the hours spent on the road for quality work time on their very own plot in Warren.
“When you’re taking care of sensitive plants, commuting is not ideal and adds a lot of stress and work onto an already stressful and hard job,” Camille continues. She fell in love with a piece of property in Warren a few years ago – a rare find with good soil, beautiful farmhouse, and short drive away from downtown. “My wife and I always thought we would end up in the middle of the woods far away from people, living in an old farmhouse. Instead, we get to live and work in an up-and-coming town like Warren surrounded by friendly and supportive neighbors.”
But the journey to ownership is a rocky one for burgeoning farmers, who often aren’t approved for bank loans. Without the funds to provide large down payments on land, it’s difficult to compete with buyers who can. Coupled with a housing market seeing properties snatched up fast for above asking price in 2020, Camille was left to appeal to the owners of 39 Long Lane on a personal level. “We wrote a heartfelt letter asking them to give us a couple more days to secure funding so that we could keep the land as a farm and continue their legacy,” she explains. “It worked and with the help of our family, we were able to get the farm.”
This spring will see the launch of Long Lane’s store, CSA – or community supported agriculture in which consumers purchase shares early for produce pick-ups all season – and plant sale. “We want our farm to be a welcoming place that brings joy to the community,” says Camille who envisions stocking local goods in the store and teaching gardening courses. “I also want to be able to raise a family here and involve our kids in the everyday magic of farming.”
The pair arrived at farming careers through unconventional paths, Camille departing an office job fresh out of college to try her hand at working the land. After planting roots, so to speak, apprenticing at an organic vegetable farm in Wakefield, she opened Little River Farm with a business partner. “We didn’t have much knowledge or experience, but we had the passion to grow food,” she says. “There were a lot of tough moments in those first years learning through trial and error. There still are tough moments, and farming takes a large toll on your body and mind, but I know I couldn’t be happy doing anything else.”
With a background in public health education, Devin started working on the farm part time to transition out of her medical administration job, and now she’s all in as co-owner of Long Lane Farm, where she’s also the resident beekeeper.
Armed with a Local Agriculture and Seafood Act grant for tools and supplies, the pair looks forward to starting their organic vegetable growing operation from scratch this season. “It would have been a tragedy to lose this beautiful piece of farmland for the sake of more houses,” says Camille, explaining that if not for the support of their family in securing Long Lane, it likely would have been developed. “Above all, we want to be good stewards of the land and to produce as much healthy and organic food as possible.” LongLaneFarmRI.com
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