Annalisa and Joel Wild Miller started earning their living as vegetable growers in 2009 when Wild Miller Gardens was created. For 6 seasons they worked on family land in Lee, NH on the farm where Annalisa grew up. Both of them have had a history of working with their hands and an appreciation for traditional skills. Joel has a history of enjoying working with wood, metal, dirt and animals. Annalisa has been an active licensed massage therapist since 2005 and a RN since 2012. She feels that her work as a farmer is very connected to her practices of promoting health as a massage therapist and as a nurse. She believes that growing and providing beautiful nutritious food is a great way to promote the health of her family and community.
While at Tuckaway Farm Joel and Annalisa learned about running a business, working the land, maintaining and useing the specialty horse drawn equipment. In 2009 Joel and Annalisa were introduced to farming with draft horses with Annalisa’s father as a mentor. The draft horses worked into many different aspects of the farm right away and quickly became a passion. They helped with haying, plowing, harrowing, seeding, cultivating and harvesting. In the winter they would help move logs out of the woods to the sawmill or to the firewood shed. They also helped collect maple sap for making maple syrup at the farm in New Hampshire.
As Wild Miller Gardens grew, a CSA was started that grew to almost 100 members by 2014. The business grew as their farming skills and experience grew. (Also as the family grew) Ayla Mae Wild Miller was born in November of 2012 and was welcomed with much love.
As the 2013 season came to a close and thoughts shifted to winter and the future, they decided to start looking for a farm and a home of their own. They traveled all over New England looking at farms and visiting friends, mostly in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. They had a pretty good idea what they were looking for in a farm and what sort of land base would suit the needs of their horse powered market gardening. After many farm visits they came to Palermo in November to visit the Turner Ridge farm, just before the snow covered the ground for the season and got to walk the land of their future farm. It became quite clear that this was the place they had been looking for.
The Turner Ridge farm consists of 80 acres. About 20 of those are open and fairly flat fields leaving the remaining 60 or so forested. The water was good, the soil had really strong potential, there was plenty of wood on the property for house firewood and extra to sell, the house was just the right size, and the barn was just right for the operation (though it needed a lot of work.) Although the land was in need of a lot of work to bring it back into production, it had been loved and respected for a long time. That care kept the fields open, the forests healthy, and the house well cared for. All of these things were important to them, were seen and appreciated for what opportunity it now presented. The chance to carefully bring an old farm back to commercial production, start with a fresh landscape to design and build the infrastructure that would ultimately best suit their farming visions and homestead.
Proceedings moved forward and in April of 2014 they closed on the new farm just as they were starting the growing season in NH. Commitments to CSA members and a fully planned out growing season kept them in NH for the summer growing veggies and slowly making the move up to Palermo, one trailer load at a time. All summer long a friend in Maine was in the process of straightening and strengthening the new (old) barn so that it would be ready to move the horses into for the winter. In the first week of November they and their horses moved the last trailer load and settled into their new home ready to start bringing a dream to life.