Frances Tacy, her husband Jeff, and son Zach
By Hamlin Beattie
There are scant few people in this world that simply do life honestly, without regret, and do it with an immeasurable integrity. When I was asked to choose an inspiring Ashevillian to interview for Grit, I knew immediately it would be my friend France Harris Tacy, owner of Franny's Farm.
I met her 15 years ago, when we worked hand in hand on the 14th floor of the BB&T building for a pharmaceutical billing company. She would look out her window to the West and describe in detail what she dreamed about doing one day. We would both move on from there, with her moving on into pharmaceutical sales for the next 8 years so. We all talk about dreams, but, Frances in time, realized hers and agreed to share a bit of that journey with me.
Hamlin Beattie: What was the tipping point for the move from Big Pharm to Small Farm?
Frances Tacy: Really it was a deep seeded desire to get back to simple. I was selling a fix on the back of all the healthcare issues that have arisen over the last 30 years with the introduction of GMOs and more and more processed food. I wanted to be involved in prevention on the front end, and busting loose from the restraints of corporate America, all while doing something I was passionate about. Equally important to me was to be able to share the experience with old friends as well as those that I have yet to meet, and the event center and eco-cabin rentals on Air B&B have allowed me to do just that.
Hamlin: I know your husband, Jeff, and maybe a glass or two of wine helps gets you to bed each night after a hard day on the farm. What is it that gets you up each morning, other than your roosters?
Franny: That has to be the animals. Goats, chickens, turkeys, sheep, egg collection and predator control. They all need to moved, fed, collected, and monitored first thing each morning. In all honesty, interacting with all of them in the quiet of the morning, as the sun begins to illuminate our cozy valley, is perhaps the favorite part of my day. We all grow up with the word "chore" having a negative connotation, work your own land, raise your own animals, and you will sing the word from your heart.
Hamlin: Franny's Farm has already hosted many special events and festivals, and will be hosting Asheville BARNAROO for the 3rd time coming up next week. Which is the bigger challenge, growing livestock or growing a festival? Which has the bigger payoff?
Franny: Festivals and events are by far more difficult, as you are simply just having to deal with many differing personalities – all the while dependent upon numerous outside partners to help streamline logistics. That being said, I do love sharing our story out here with new people, and we have had a blast hosting everything from a Farm-mitzvah, to a Blind Pig dinner. And of course there's BARNAROO, coming up September 26-27, forthe thirdtime benefitting Asheville Music School, is now in its 3rd year at Franny's Farm, and has been more and more successful with each passing year. The bigger payoff – definitely raising the animals, and doing it responsibly.
Hamlin : You have many projects in the works for Franny's Farm. Which one will excite all your visitors the most and your hard working husband the least?
Franny: What will excite our visitors the most, will easily be our plans for a completely solar powered performance stage outside our upcoming Beer Barn featuring all the amazing craft beers in our area. Jeff, is probably least excited about installing our incinerating toilets that will service our campsites and eco-cabins, as well as future festival goers, all the while providing a much more eco-friendly and efficient way to dispose of waste.
Hamlin: Agriculture, Festivals, Eco-cabins, special events and more must keep you running 24/7. Where can we catch Frances unwinding and enjoying some time away from the farm?
Franny: Being active. Love trail runs and hiking the Appalachian Trail with my girlfriends, I workout as often as possible, float the river with my wonderful husband after a long week on the farm, and I would be remiss if I did not mention tearing up the dance floor at least once a month with you – my concert husband.