Losing much of their $8,000 fence to the May 2015 floods was bad enough for Cynthia and Russell Wickliffe of Harlequin Dairy Goats in Cedar Park. But when the next round of floods in October of that same year washed away their repair job, they were ready to throw in the towel and move. Instead, they called Farm-1-1. Gathering a team of local volunteer farmers, the nonprofit used its collective tools, supplies and experience to fix the fence in a few hours—for free. More importantly, the group convinced the Wickliffes to stick around for a while, which was the whole point.
Wife-and-wife team Vivian and JoAnn Smotherman started Farm-1-1 in 2015 to help keep their fellow farmers from giving up on a costly and time-consuming vocation. “Over and over we’ve seen new farmers move in and then move out a year or two later,” says Vivian, who’s run Eden’s Cove farm with JoAnn in Cedar Park since 2007. “They may get stuck on just one obstacle, whether it’s some expensive piece of equipment or chickens not laying eggs—things other farmers can help them with because we’ve all been there.”
Drawing on friends and Facebook followers, Farm-1-1 whips together volunteers and equipment to answer calls for aid in Austin, Bastrop, Del Valle, Smithville, Lockhart and “anywhere else we can reasonably get to,” says Vivian. Cynthia Wickliffe says she and Russell were thrilled with the group’s efforts—saving them several hours of work and lots of money that would have otherwise gone to often expensive repair companies. “I really love their idea of local people pitching in to help each other with labor, expertise and equipment,” she says.
Whether it’s raising a barn or advising about lethargic livestock, Farm-1-1 operates on a donate-if-you-can scale. It saves farmers even more money by donating salvaged supplies and parts. “You can’t visit a farm without finding a leftover roll of fencing lying around,” says Vivian. In the future, the nonprofit also hopes to attract corporate sponsorships and arrange group discounts at supply stores—anything to keep people farming. “The more farmers we have, the more it helps all of us,” says Vivian. —Steve Wilson
For more information, visit farm-1-1.org or call 512-321-4786.