Welcome to Sassafras Lane Farmstead. This is our farmstead story.
Hi, my name is Justin Quay. My wife Kiernan and I began our journey into farming as gardeners. We both grew up with family gardens like most suburban American kids in the 80’s & 90’s. Our grandparents were from the WWII generation and our parents are baby boomers. They showed us the joy derived from growing your own food. My grandpop, Richard Shaner, had a small cornfield (about 3 acres) and grew the best Silver Queen sweet corn! As kids, we would pick basket upon basket to sell at the roadside, eat on Sundays at family dinners, and help our grandmom cut off the kernels for canning. Kiernan’s Pop, William Pahowka, grew the best cucumbers and dill, which he turned in to the most renowned pickles.
We started our gardening adventure when we lived in a small row house in Baltimore, MD. We grew tomatoes and herbs in pots in the backyard. When we moved to South Carolina, we built a home in a sub-division and planted our first garden as soon as we moved in! That garden was 12’ x 20’ and we grew tons of food in it every year. Tomatoes, green beans, garlic, onions, leeks, peppers, cucumbers, watermelon, pumpkins, and zucchini abound and we delighted sharing with our neighbors.
I became interested in producing more of our own food and about sustainable, edible landscaping in the years that followed. We planted peach and pear trees in the yard (though the squirrels seemed to always beat us to the fruit). We added a blueberry bush, which gave us quarts of fresh, big berries each summer. Over time, we added grape vines, a potted dwarf Meyer lemon tree, and two large raised planters for lettuce, spinach, and kale and converted a large section of our backyard flowerbed into an asparagus patch.
In 2016, we began what would be a 2-year process of purchasing our next home. We decided to move back North to be closer to our families and settled on moving to lower Delaware. We knew we didn’t want to live in a subdivision any longer, and wanted to get a property that was large enough to build a small farm. We were thinking around 5 – 10 acres. After looking at countless properties, we were fortunately able to purchase a beautiful wooded lot just outside of Georgetown. At 48.8 acres it’s much larger than we intended our next property to be, but it affords is much room to grow and the ability to steward it into the next generation.
We purchased the property in late December, 2018 and began the process of building our home. We decided to name the farm Sassafras Lane Farmstead, in honor of the family that had previously owned the property and had named its lane after their daughter’s favorite Sassafras tree. We spent the first 5 months clearing a little over an acre for our home site and worked with a local builder, Beracah Homes, to build a Net Zero home. We moved into the house in late July 2019, just in time for me to deploy to Afghanistan for a year with the National Guard.
Check back later, we’ll be adding pictures and comments on our progress.