Pace Family Farms: Living Local

Pace Family Farms is a local produce farm growing over 30 different kinds of seasonal produce year-round, including raising their own meat to emphasize a true farm-to-table experience for their customers. Located in Clayton, NC, Michelle Pace Davis is a 6th generation farmer who currently runs and operates the farm.

For Michelle, the farm business has impacted her life the most in the community she’s been able to build around her. Michelle explains that through social media, “I am able to connect with local women in my community and we can talk about whatever, honestly. I have friends in every industry, and whether we are talking about farming, business, searching for tips, or just to talk, having a local group of friends is so important to my success.” She went on to say that while it may seem from the outside farmers are competing against each other for market share, it really isn’t like that at all. Simply put, “Farmers support farmers,” said Michelle. Since farmers work to complete the same objective of feeding and serving others, they aren’t competing against each other. “We are all working towards a common goal of serving others, so helping another farmer better serve someone else is nothing short of fulfilling.”

Michelle connects with her friends through social media platforms like Snapchat, which allows her to stay updated on all aspects of their life, farming or not. This is also useful as a member of her community so when a need arises, she already has knowledge of the situation.

This goes hand in hand with her advice for young, beginning, and small farmers, looking to kick start or grow their agricultural business. A network allows the farmer to grow by learning from those that have already succeeded, as well as getting tips from those in completely different industries that may have an influence on your business.\

An additional piece of advice Michelle stresses is the importance of a work-life balance. While farming is a 24/7, 365 type of job, that doesn’t mean work and life need to become one. For Michelle, it is important for her to not only set aside family time, but also to not live directly on the farm in order to create a literal and physical boundary between home and work. She fears this lack of boundary for many is the reason stress is common for farmers. “Stressing the divide of work and life not only makes you happier, but makes your business more successful.”

Part of what makes Pace Family Farms a success is Michelle’s approach to the business. By building a strong network and viewing others as a resource rather than the opposition, Michelle embraces community over competition in a way that encourages agriculture in the community to thrive. She’s not just offering food from the farm, but friendship and wisdom as well.

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