SISTER GROVE FARM
Sister Grove Farm is our favorite place on earth. It is our home. As we live out the rest of our lives here, our stories will intertwine with others who have come before and those who will follow. We pray that the time invested in our relationship with this place will be a blessing to the land and all those who visit and live here.
Getting to know a place (any place) starts with knowing where you are. This farm is located on a rolling piece of blackland prairie in Van Alstyne, Texas. Her 149 acres are nestled along the east prong of Sister Grove Creek in the Lavon watershed of the Trinity River basin. All of life is watershed based so all of us have a relationship with a watershed. Until now, we did not know the name of the watersheds where we had lived. In the spirit of neighborliness, we are now led by Wendell Berry's words to "Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you."
We are also mindful that we are not the first ones here. We live on the home lands of the Wichita or Kitikiti'sh tribes and while we understand that territorial acknowledgement is only a gesture, it represents the beginning of our commitment to justice and reconciliation which involves an ongoing relationship with the ancestors of the land.
According to the Texas State Historical Association, these were a settled and agricultural people. The women cultivated varieties of maize, beans, and squash (known as the Three Sisters) and possibly tobacco for religious purposes. The men hunted deer, rabbits, turkey, and, primarily, bison, and caught fish. They tended to be friendly toward strangers, avoided confrontations unless provoked, and were noted for their hospitality.
Later this land was owned by Collin McKinney, the oldest signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. In his later years he deeded it to his son, Younger Scott McKinney, who built a home for his family in 1859. That farmhouse is still standing and a State of Texas historical marker designates the site.
We are newcomers to this place and have owned this property since 2016. Using regenerative agricultural practices and holistic planned grazing, we hope to raise and grow food in ways that build up soil health. With this basic context at the heart of our decision making, we hope to increase biodiversity, improve the water cycle, and sequester carbon as an act of resilience in mitigating climate change.
We also envision Sister Grove as a place of healing and community building. With this in mind, a small agri-spiritual retreat center has been constructed. Families, churches, community groups, and individuals are finding Sister Grove Farm as a place to stay a while, catch your breath, and (according to Robin Wall Kimmerer) "remember things you didn’t know you’d forgotten."
If you get to know your place,
it will get to know you.
FACES OF SISTER GROVE
At Sister Grove Farm, there are many people, creatures, and plants who make the farm what it is. Here are just a few of us, with more to come.