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Marion Junction couple decides to delve into sustainable farming

Chip Spencer, a sustainable farmer in Marion Junction, talks with students from Auburn University who toured the family's farm Saturday. -- Sarah Cook

Chip Spencer, a sustainable farmer in Marion Junction, talks with students from Auburn University who toured the family’s farm Saturday. — Sarah Cook

While most people travel to the grocery store to stock their cabinets and refrigerators, all Chip and Laura Spencer have to do is open their front door.

Chip and Laura, of Spencer Farm in Marion Junction, have been producing all their own meats, vegetables and dairy for the past 10 years. It all began after they had children and decided to take a closer look at what exactly was going in to their food.

Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer

“We bought the farm about 20 years ago and started raising commercial cattle,” Chip explained. “And then about 10 years ago we had kids and started focusing more on our diet and what they were eating.”

From there, Chip said an evolutionary process began which led his family of four to begin creating a sustainable lifestyle.

On Spencer Farm today, sheep and goats can be found grazing the property while chickens wander the roads. Laura, a former elementary teacher, said she never envisioned living a completely sustainable lifestyle — but she’s glad she is.

“I never thought my daily workout would be weed-eating,” she said with a smile, standing in one of the farm’s many chicken coops. “I don’t think either one of us thought we would be here.”

In addition to meat and dairy, the Spencers also grow all their own fruits, vegetables and practice sustainable living by using solar energy.

Through energy conservation, Chip said they can cut energy costs by a large 75 percent.

“So now we have gotten to the point where we really are self-sustainable for our little family and the idea now is to try and bring other people in and show them how to do something like this for themselves,” Chip said.

The family is so passionate about their healthy, sustainable lifestyle that they often give tours of the farm, explaining why producing the majority of your food is not only cost efficient, but benefits your health.

“We try to do everything as organically as possible,” Laura said. “The more I learn about what goes in our food and the pollution that’s getting into the environment, the more I think it’s important.”

And while Chip admitted that their lifestyle is not of the norm, he said his children seem to think everyone produces their own food and “gets up at 5 a.m. to milk the goats.”

“This is completely normal to them, and I suppose they think everyone grows what they eat,” Chip said with a laugh. “We started doing this when they were infants, so they don’t know any different.”

And the journey to continue living healthy and sustainable hasn’t ended for the Spencers. Chip said the family is currently working on incorporating a hydro-electric generator on to the overflow of the family pond, which will then generate all the electricity the family needs.

“That’s just a project we’re working on,” he said.

Living in Marion Junction and “working on the farm,” both Chip and Laura said they wouldn’t change a thing about where their lives have led them and their family.

“To me, the best think about living in the Black Belt is we’re out in an unpopulated area that’s still relatively pristine and I would like to do my part to keep it that way,” Chip said. “We’re very blessed.”