Alan Chandler experienced a new dawn when he returned to his family farm, referred to as New Dawn, in McLemore's Cove near Chickamauga, Ga., three years ago.
Chandler holds a master's degree in outdoor education, and for the past few years he worked as a public school teacher and admissions counselor as well as performing other odd jobs while living in Virginia and Vermont.
"I knew I would eventually come back to the farm," he said in regards to his 100-year-old family farm that covers 200 acres. "The opportunity was there, so we took it."
His wife Carrie is now the director of the farm's nondenominational Christian summer camps, which his mother began 16 years ago.
For the past three seasons he has operated a fresh produce community-supported agriculture (CSA) program and offers grass-fed beef at the Battlefield Farmers Market in Rock Spring and Signal Mountain Farmers Market.
"The need for good food is there, so we figured we'd make a go of it," said Chandler.
He said they were spared many of the hardships young farmers have as they are getting started, such as finding and purchasing land. Chandler said his main difficulty in adjusting to life on a farm was maintaining efficiency.
"It's hard to not have a schedule and manage your time," he said.
His 21-week vegetable CSA begins in late May with a three-week break in August and ends the first week in November.
Grass-fed beef from New Dawn has no antibiotics or hormones, said Chandler. They refrain from spraying their pastures with chemicals and they bale their own hay, he added.
"We know what they're eating, and it's a healthier product," he said of his grass-fed beef as opposed to grain-fed beef.
Grass-fed beef has more Omega 3 and less Omega 6, which is more prevalent in grain-fed beef and causes the cow's stomach to acidify and develop e. coli bacteria.
All cuts of meat are available through New Dawn. Chandler said his very popular ground beef is 93-95 percent lean.
"A lot of people like the stew meat, and the steaks are phenomenal," he added. "The texture of the meat's a little different - it tastes like it's supposed to. It might be mental, because I know where it's from and what it's about. A product you know has been raised humanely just tastes better."
He said it just makes sense for people to source their food locally as much as they can.
"Money spent locally stays local," said Chandler. "People's pocketbooks is what makes the difference."
One of his favorite aspects of farming is getting to know the people who buy his product, he said.