MPW.71 / 2019 Old Air, New Wind by Zack Wajsgras
Photographer
Zack Wajsgras Sterling, Va.
Team Cliff & Vi

Story Summary

Austin and Kelli Williams had never considered farming until a friend called to offer them jobs raising cattle and sheep in Boonville, Missouri. Austin was an exhausted teacher at a middle school in Colorado and Kelli was looking for work after graduating from college. In spite of their inexperience, they were sold when told that the farm focused on restoring to health the land they would work. This was the change they were looking for: a slice of the quiet Missouri farm life.

They began to work together and learn how to orchestrate high intensity grazing for the animals--a concept based on how herds of mammals once grazed before modern livestock raising and grain farming practices. They reoriented their own diets to focus on whole foods like raw milk and organic vegetables, as well as the nutrient dense meat they were raising. The philosophy of the farm also inspired Austin to create a podcast focused on communicating the benefits of conscientiously farmed food.

Over the summer of 2019, the young couple welcomed their first child, Tesni Williams, into the world and started the process of building a multigenerational house. While farming and raising Tesni, they also built a new farmhouse across the street from their current home. They will live with Kelli’s parents and grandparents, who followed the couple to Missouri from Colorado. The move follows Kelli and Austin’s focus on strong multi-generational family structure.

They feel that their choices follow the hopes and dreams in ideas that started many generations before them, a fusion between tradition and innovation: a pair of millennials who are finding solace in the mandate of stewardship.