Justin Rhodes’s Homesteading Journey_ How an Entrepreneur Turned the ‘Loopy Hen Ninja’

It wasn’t simple, however here is how one man went from Walmart checker to self-made homestead media star and permaculture hen professional

If the COVID-19 pandemic taught the American folks something, it’s that the establishments and methods we’ve held up and relied upon for many years are deeply flawed. This reality grew to become painfully evident when grocery retailer cabinets emptied, when farmers needed to kill extra livestock because of provide chain interruptions, when conveniences that had been taken with no consideration grew to become the stuff of stress and anxiousness, and when the phantasm of metropolis life was damaged and the attract of a quiet city or nation residence grew to become so interesting that home costs skyrocketed.

Justin Rhodes on his homestead. (Benjamin Roberts)

Out within the mountainous western nook of North Carolina, Justin Rhodes skilled one thing surprising. Regardless of his personal life having modified dramatically over the previous 15 years, through the pandemic, his world remained steady. Whereas the world past was in chaos, he continued to take advantage of his cows, have a tendency his backyard, butcher his broiler chickens, and watch because the homesteading way of life he’d been showcasing for the previous 4 years took off like a rocket.

“Homesteading and dealing from house is much more socially acceptable now,” stated Rhodes. “COVID blew up the concept of needing to homestead. Folks wanted to take homesteading severely.”

Justin Rhodes was all the time entrepreneurial, and turned this ardour towards homesteading. (Benjamin Roberts)

‘Entrepreneur Justin’

Lengthy earlier than COVID-19 and Rhodes’s homesteading success, he was already growing and honing his entrepreneurial passions.

“Entrepreneur Justin got here lengthy earlier than Homesteader Justin,” he stated with a chuckle. “I feel we’re all born entrepreneurs.”

At 16, Rhodes briefly held what he known as his one and solely “actual job.” Working on the backyard part of his native Walmart, Rhodes realized that he not solely had a robust dislike for conventional retail, however that working for himself can be way more financially and personally rewarding.

Deciding to start out a garden mowing enterprise however missing instruments, Rhodes labored out a cope with his father whereby he would obtain a 20 p.c lower of Justin’s earnings in alternate to be used of garden mowing gear and a pickup truck. Rhodes was quickly making greater than double the earnings he was incomes stacking cabinets at Walmart.

“I’ve by no means had a traditional job since,” Rhodes laughed.

Extra ventures have been to comply with. A Saint Bernard breeding enterprise—impressed by the 1992 traditional “Beethoven”—helped get Rhodes by means of faculty, whereas a foray into mountain boarding despatched him careening down grass-covered hills on what was basically a snowboard with wheels. Then the household entered the image.

Justin Rhodes (L) and Rebekah Rhodes promote the produce from their market backyard community-supported agriculture (CSA) to buddies and anybody else who desires a share. (Benjamin Roberts)

Household Farm

“I knew that if I have been to get a traditional job, the children must include me. We’re elevating our children to turn out to be adults, so I’d need them to be round adults. And in the event that they couldn’t include me, I’d both discover one other job, create my very own job—which I’m extra prone to do since I’m an entrepreneur—or reside in a cardboard field with my children.”

Whereas Rhodes’s dedication to his household is the driving pressure behind his entrepreneurial endeavors, it was the curiosity of his spouse, Rebekah—whom Rhodes lovingly calls “The Lovely One”—that obtained them into homesteading within the first place.

Justin Rhodes taking good care of a pig on his homestead. (Benjamin Roberts)

Regardless of being the third technology to inhabit a 75-acre parcel of household land, Rhodes discovered himself at a little bit of a generational drawback. Rhodes’s paternal grandfather, Grandpa Henry, had bought and labored the land out of necessity through the Nice Despair. Rhodes’s father, conversely, determined to take his personal life in a unique path and set the farm apart. Regardless of the generational hole in information, when Rebekah got here to Justin with the concept of taking management of their household meals system, he jumped proper on board.

The couple and their then-young youngsters started shopping for natural produce, which wasn’t low cost even 15 years in the past. Then, sooner or later, a seed rack caught Rhodes’s eye.

“We’re on the grocery retailer and we’re ringing out all these veggies and meats and nuts and fruits … Then, out of curiosity, I am going and take a look at this seed rack. And I seen, as we have been testing, {that a} bundle of kale price $3. However over on the seed rack, I seen I may get a complete seed pack for a similar quantity, and there’s 100 seeds in it. I knew sufficient about rising to know that one seed would convey one plant; one bunch of kale. That’s 100 occasions your cash to purchase seeds, put it within the floor, and develop extra kale for a similar amount of cash. I believed, why isn’t this shelf empty?”

Justin and Rebekah determined to start out a market backyard community-supported agriculture (CSA) and promote their produce to buddies and anybody else who needed a share. Nonetheless, midway by means of their first season, a troublesome being pregnant made Rebekah unable to proceed working the backyard. So Rhodes took over the operation of the market farm and located, considerably to his shock, that he loved it immensely.

Through the pandemic, Justin Rhodes continued to take advantage of his cows, have a tendency his backyard, butcher his broiler chickens, and domesticate his homesteading way of life. (Benjamin Roberts)

Troublesome Days

It was throughout that point that Rhodes started to vary his mindset about meals.

“I started to comprehend that meals is way more than vitality. Meals grew to become drugs. And when meals grew to become drugs, it grew to become a lot extra particular. It’s my therapeutic. It’s intimate and fulfilling. It grew to become a ardour as we started to see it heal us and make us really feel higher,” Rhodes stated.

There was additionally a monetary obligation to meet. Folks had put down cash on religion that the CSA would yield a crop. And Rhodes wasn’t about to let anybody down.

Sadly, Rhodes’s ongoing battle with power Lyme illness compelled him to sluggish all the things down available on the market farm. Funds grew to become strained. Medical payments and bank card payments piled up. The household was doing completely all the things they may to outlive, renting out a spare bed room, dumpster diving for meals, and dwelling on meals help.

Within the throes of this darkish interval, Rhodes started to discover choices for creating a web-based enterprise primarily based round his homesteading ardour. He determined to create a product that may function each an informational video and an e-book about elevating chickens utilizing permaculture ideas. This was the start of Rhodes’s journey into homestead media.

Rebekah Rhodes (L) and Justin Rhodes on their homestead. (Benjamin Roberts)

Homestead Media Success

Utilizing Kickstarter and the next he’d developed by means of his weblog, “Considerable Permaculture,” Rhodes was capable of increase $35,000 in 30 days to supply “Permaculture Chickens.” From that time onward, the method of growing wealthy, pleasurable, free content material, using that content material to find a necessity within the viewers, and launching a product that caters to that want has been the important thing to Rhodes’s continued success.

Following this system didn’t simply work nicely on the weblog. Rhodes is maybe greatest recognized for the vlog by which he paperwork his life on the homestead. He couldn’t have foreseen, when he first picked up his digital camera, the impact the choice to vlog would have on his life.

At the moment, the Justin Rhodes YouTube channel has nicely over 1 million subscribers and tens of millions extra views. Rhodes has turn out to be one thing of a homesteading media mogul, having envisioned and developed the app Abundance+, an uncensored, subscriber-based different to YouTube.

“It scratched an itch and took off,” stated Rhodes. “We’re at this second the place you’ll be able to have an viewers in your cellphone. We have now the opportunity of a community in our again pocket.”

Invoking the reminiscence of Grandpa Henry, Rhodes continued: “You’ve obtained to benefit from fashionable know-how. If a door of alternative opens earlier than you and also you don’t stroll by means of it, you’re loopy.”

Although Rhodes definitely discovered his calling on this medium, one factor neither he nor Rebekah anticipated was the group that may construct round their enterprise.

“Folks have been impressed to start out homesteading, but it surely was all the time only a enterprise for us. We by no means anticipated to create a group round it,” Rhodes stated. “People want satisfaction. You’re both working to your dream or another person’s. Should you’re working for another person’s dream, that you must be behind that dream. Should you’re not behind that dream, that you must begin your personal.”

Rhodes’s encouragement to come back residence and middle your self round household has resonated with hundreds of individuals and can proceed to resonate with hundreds extra as he continues to take advantage of cows, plant seeds, and preach the knowledge of the ages to a contemporary viewers.