The Dysinger family roots run deep in Middle Tennessee. My father was born in Bon Aqua – less than 20 miles away. After a career as a globe-trotting public health physician, he and my mother decided to return to his roots and retire in Hickman County.
Mother had definite ideas about the kind of place she wanted to live, and was not easily satisfied in the realty hunt. Finally, they providentially came across their dream farm: 192 acres of woods, fields, hills, springs, streams and lake! What they were thinking to do with 192 acres in retirement, I’m not sure, but it exceeded all my mother’s requirements and the price was right, so a deal was made in the spring of 1991. My parents may not have had a plan for the farm, but God sure did!
Then began the ambitious task of “wooing” the family to the farm. At the time the property was purchased, my oldest brother Edwin’s family was doing community development work in Tanzania, Pam and I were teaching in Kenya, my other brother, Wayne and his family were practicing Medicine in Guam, and my sister Janelle was living with her family in Maryland (apparently we all got some of those globe-trotting genes). The idea of moving to the farm seemed quaint, but very unrealistic. But, reality can change quickly!
Through many providential circumstances, Pam and I, along with two children in tow, ended up on the farm in 1995, Janelle’s family moved to the area in 1998, and Edwin’s family arrived in 2006. (Wayne and family are still “holding out” in Southern California).
The idea of actually “farming” the farm only came about in 1998 when I was searching for a way to be more home-based and involved with my growing family. A family farm seemed idyllic, but could it really work? Most said “no”, but God said “yes”! So Bountiful Blessings Farm germinated in the Fall of 1998.
We started out as a strawberry farm and learned lots those first few years in the “school of hard knocks.” By 2003, we believed we were poised and ready to “make it big.” We thought we had graduated with our degree in hard knocks and were ready to finally “get it all together.” That spring we had the largest and best strawberry crop ever. Two days into the berry season, it began to rain, and it didn’t let up until 3/4 of our crop had rotted on the vines. We were devastated both economically and emotionally.
But, God provided a way out! He impressed us with the need to diversify and pointed us in the direction of a Winter CSA. With the help and encouragement of our amazing customers, we started our first CSA that Fall. Now we began a whole new learning curve!
The first year was successful enough to make us want to try it again. Each year got a little better. The customers were pleased and we began to settle into our new niche.
By 2006, we had learned enough to know what didn’t work, and were beginning to get a grasp on what did. So, when Edwin, Jennifer, and family moved to the farm that summer, with an infusion of new blood and capital, we were able to begin much needed expansion with clear direction. What a blessing it was to have more heads, hands, and hearts together on the farm!
The winter CSA continued to improve and expand each year until 2010 when we decided it would be a better use of our resources to add the summer season and go year round. This was good for profits, but hard physically and mentally. Farmers, like perennial plants, need a period of dormancy each year in order to regain their strength!
In 2011, my family took a much-needed, three month sabbatical to Honduras. This was an amazing family time filled with many wonderful memories and time to reflect on where we had come from and where we were headed. We realized that year-round farming was unsustainable for us, and decided that “dividing and conquering” might be the solution. Our family would take the spring and summer season, and Edwin’s family could do the fall and winter!
This worked well for a time, but Edwin and Jennifer’s children were all “fledging,” marrying and “leaving the nest” - with callings away from the farm. So, in 2016, after 10 years of our two families partnering together, Edwin and Jennifer decided it was time to leave commercial agriculture to seek pursuits more in line with their children’s lives.
This is a classic example of how family farms can be very fluid in their operations. What worked well for a time no longer works because of changes in family dynamics (or it could be changes in age, health, work force, markets, etc.). We have many good memories of times spent working and fellowshipping together on the farm! The good news is they haven't gone anywhere, so we still have opportunities for family time together.
So now the John Dysinger family carries on, confident we are where God wants us to be, doing what He called us to do. It's exciting to see the next generation beginning to take over the farm! (Our goal is to work ourselves out of a job.) Our second son, Joshua, has taken on the fall and winter season (as well as helping us in the spring and summer), and our last-born, Caleb, is also taking on more farm responsibilities. We continue to learn, grow, and refine our systems, and the Lord blesses by providing for all our needs.
The future looks bright at Bountiful Blessings! We have truly been blessed both by the trials and the triumphs. We are never sure what the next page of our farm history will say, but whatever happens, we would like you to be a part of it! We invite you to grow with us as our farm matures.