We had the good fortune of connecting with Jamie Tanner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jamie, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Simple Sparrow began as my hobby farm. I grew up visiting family at their farms and ranches. My father has been incarcerated most of my life and my mother was a single parent for the majority of my childhood. Learning to farm and grow gardens with family had a huge impact on my life: I learned to care for land, gardens, and animals but it really helped me better care for myself and others. Furthermore, my family’s love and support carried me through hard times. My husband and I wanted to give our own kids simple farm skills but we also wanted to share our family farm with friends. Several of our friends are involved in foster/adoption ministries either as families or therapists. They would bring their children to the farm and I would show them how to hold a bunny, plant seeds, or feed chickens…just daily farm chores like I was taught growing up. I began hearing stories about how these children would light up sharing about their experience and how they couldn’t wait to come back. Our friends asked to invite friends, then their friends asked to invite friends… it grew from there. Before long, schools and other organizations were asking about me bringing animals to share and talk about. I didn’t want to use the farm for entertainment and amusement, which it certainly is…I wanted to utilize farm nature for educational and therapeutic opportunities. I wanted to teach others how to care for land, gardens, and animals to not only help themselves, but to motivate people to care for all living things. My thought process behind starting a nonprofit care farm was to educate and help people alongside animals and in a farm setting. We believe people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities can care for the earth and each other. We just need time and space to practice how to do it better…
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a retired Army combat medic. I grew up with an incarcerated parent. To say the least, I have experienced trauma. Gardens and animals have always been my “happy” place. At times, I prefer the company of my milk goats over people. A few years ago, I decided to go to seminary…I wanted to learn more about God. During a class on the book of Genesis, the professor lingered at the end of chapter 1: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping things that creeps…'” (Gen. 1:26). The professor explained that God did not create humans to rule through exploitation, but rather to lead through stewardship. He moved on with the lesson but I was fixated: how do we steward? How do steward better? If all the earth and everything in it belongs to God, how I am doing taking care of His things? I love Maya Angelou’s quote: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I want to always be a learner….to always learn “better.” As I learn good, better, and best farming and gardening practices, I want others to learn them too. I believe that when we humans strive to help creation live up to it’s fullest potential, we live up to ours as well. What I have found is that when I teach creation stewardship (how to care for and be kind to all living things), there is a therapeutic aspect that naturally blooms. Care farming is a model for how to steward creation: to utilize farm nature for educational and therapeutic interventions. Care farming is not exploiting creation for human gain. Rather, care farming engages the whole person as a purposeful, mindful, and intentional care taker. Benefits are for the whole of creation: land, gardens, animals, and people.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Simple Sparrow Care Farm is near Austin, TX… but I would forgo the busy city and seek out the amazing smaller cities in the surrounding area: 1) Georgetown for a walk around the downtown square: coffee at 309, lunch at Sweet Lemon, and pastries for the road from Galaxy bakery. 2) Marble Falls for berry picking at Sweet Berry Farm and pie at the Blue Bonnet Cafe. 3) Drive to Fredericksburg to check out the Sunday homes and Circle E Candle Co with a stop in at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History farm in Stonewall. 4) Antiquing in Taylor, Giddens, and Round Top 5) Check out the pottery and glass studios in Salado and then head further north to shop in Belton 6) Round Rock for Round Rock Donuts and a walk along Chisholm Trail to see the “Round Rock” 7) Pflugerville for beer or coffee at West Pecan Coffee + Bar The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My Grandma Jan taught me how to raise animals and garden. She spent countless patient hours going row by row with me in her garden, penning the animals I would “free”, and telling me stories about Jesus and cowboys.
Youtube: Simple Sparrow Care Farm
Brenna Hodge Jessica Scott