About

We are Rachel and Chris Nafis, a couple that has unwittingly found itself with a desire to farm.  We like to think of ourselves as fairly competent at our chosen professions, but those professions are not farming, so we really have no idea what we’re doing.  Nevertheless, we have developed a love for growing and humanely raising organic food, and one of us (Chris) was looking for a second career, so we ended up here.

In January 2012 we were graciously offered the opportunity to farm an unused piece of land in Lemon Grove, CA, and we used this opportunity to start a small urban farm and modest 20-member organic egg and vegetable CSA.  In one sense we blundered our way through our first growing year, but in another, it was a huge success.  In August 2012 we were offered a position as caretakers on a 45-acre ranch in mountainous Jamul, CA.  Four months later we moved from our little place in the city to an old, but slightly renovated trailor on Rancho Vivo, along with our two dogs, 50 chickens, top-bar bee hive, and composting Red Worms.  Our little home was powered by solar panels and heated with wood from the property.  In 2013 we made another wild attempt to start a farm from next to nothing, but this time with the help of a tractor, greenhouse, more space, and improved planning, not to mention a year of experience under our belt.  In 2013 we welcomed 2 Yorkshire pigs, Lucille and Ramona, 12 Bourbon Red (heritage) turkeys, 2 Nubian milk goats, and a handful of rare egg-laying ducks to our menagerie of farm animals.

In the fall of 2013 it was clear our time at the ranch had come to an end.  We tore down the farm, harvested the turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner, and purchased a small two-bedroom house in the city of San Diego with a large yard and a wood stove.  We have since turned our yard into a large garden, are still losing count of our 34? hens, roosters, and ducks, but are taking a break from farming for the time being.  We are expecting a baby come summer.

This blog is our story.

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Our entrance into the world of farming has come from two directions.  As a nurse, Rachel has become increasingly aware of the importance of eating healthy food as well as the danger of eating most of the terrible, processed food that is so typical of the American diet.  Inspired by the likes of Barbara Kingsolver, Dorothy Day, Michael Pollan and Kristin Kimball, she got us growing a wide variety of vegetables and raising chickens in our backyard.  As a pastor and student of theology, Chris has come to understand the earth as a gift and a responsibility given to us by God.  Food is and has always been an extremely important part of humans’ relationships with God, one another, and the world around them, relationships that have all been damaged by the fast food lifestyle that most of us “city folk” tend to live.  Joining Rachel in her gardening efforts has helped Chris to better understand scripture, connect with God, and learn to be more patient and peaceful.  Inspired by the likes of Ellen Davis, Wendell Berry, and Masanobu Fukuoka, Chris has embraced Rachel’s enthusiasm for good, healthy, local food, and has come to enjoy working in the dirt as much as she does.

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A Psalter is a volume containing the book of Psalms.  Norman Wirzba, in Food and Faith articulates better than we can why we chose Psalter Farm.

“As exiles from paradise, living in a fragmented and degraded world, our priestly song will often take the form of lament.  This is because many of the creatures we receive come to us in a diminished and deformed state, unable to realize their God-given potential.  Too much of the food we eat, when we fully see and deeply understand, lodges in our throats as a cry to the offense to its dignity.  Oftentimes we cannot fix the damage we have done.  And so we must weep.  We must learn the songs of confession and repentance.  By bringing our laments and tears to God we ask God to transform cries into a resurrection song and tears into life-giving waters.  We ask God to transform our eating and living so that they might communicate the glory of God.”

Like the book of Psalms, Psalter Farm is our lament, our cry, our prayer, and our song.

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11 comments

  1. Hey, Dave here! I am so glad to see how your life is going since your trip with Royal Servants. I know farming is truly a trying endeavor, and I myself don’t think I could hack it! Good luck and let the blessings of God be upon you two!

    -Dave Eikenberry (RSI)

  2. So excited for you guys! I love the blog, and I like the way you write, Chris. It’s very clear why you guys are doing what you’re doing. I am really proud of you and the life choices you’ve made!

  3. Hey there!!
    First off, I just saw the photo of your dog & was stunned at how similar (s)he looks to mine. You didn’t happen to find you pup at Helen Woodward about 6-7 years ago, did you?
    Second, I run a pet hospital here in Lemon Grove and we have LOTS & LOTS of styrofoam cooler boxes (every order of vaccines comes in one of these.) The inside measures 11″ long x 8.5″ wide x 9″ deep. I use this to leave my eggs on the porch with an ice bag to keep everything cool so clients can come pick them up. Please let me know if you can use these. I haven’t had the heart to throw them out because they are REALLY good quality, I just haven’t figured out a mass use for them yet.

    • Beverly – I just noticed that we never responded to this – sorry! Your dog looks exactly like ours. That is wild. He is only about four years old, though, so they’re probably not related :). I don’t know if you still have extra cooler boxes, but we might be interested in giving those a try. Thanks for your comment. Sorry it took so long to respond!!!

  4. Your blog name caught my eye while reading the Food In Jars blog. Curious about farming folks who’d use the word psalter, I scanned your About page, and found Kingsolver, Pollan, Berry, theology, and a Catan T-shirt… !!
    Just want to say blessings and that I hope things are going well. You are doing what many more of us would, if we could.

  5. Hello Rachel,

    My name is Eowyn and my husband and I had a small CSA at the end of Deerhorn (Wilde Oaks Farm) until last summer when we moved to Washington state. We would be happy to offer you any information that might be helpful. It was incredibly difficult for us to leave and we still hope to move back at some point. We definately found the community hugely supportive though there were many difficulties as well–not the least of which were rodents and water–including gophers, rabbits and squirrels. Get used to shooting, trapping and fencing regularly, as well as regular loss. It is inevitable in the country and esp on mother grundy. I grew up out there and still have family at the end of Deerhorn and there are a lot of unique things about country life vs city growing–the huge number of pests is the biggest. Anyway, you should have great success with garlic–most varietals worked wonderfully and though gophers will eat it they prefer other things! Other big successes include artichokes (as long as you locate them in a place where it does not freeze hard–near a boulder or the house. Plant lots cause these are a favorite of most rodents. Other sucesses include asparagus, squash, tomatillos, tomatoes, snap beans, eggplant, beets and onions. Brassicas do great until the brassica bug finds you in early summer. Soapy water helps but really try to plant according to season. Lettuces do great in spring. Strawberries also do great, as do avocadoes–look for winter hardy varieties and plant near boulders. Good luck. Eowyn

  6. Awe I hadn’t read this until now and love it!! I didn’t know Rachel that you love Dorothy day! Learn sine thing new all the time about your friends ey? I’m so proud of you both! You both are awesome!!!
    Love you.


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