A hobby farm turned into second-act careers for a former sheriff and assistant district attorney. And they’re loving it.
Arguably “retired,” Kerry and Robin Dunaway own and operate Greenway Farms in Roberta. They raise pastured beef and pork as well as chickens for eggs. The couple makes pickles, jams, jellies and preserves in a federally licensed kitchen on the farm. And customers also enjoy their farm-made organic goat milk lotions and soaps, shampoo and conditioners.
“What started as a hobby has grown as we’ve learned more natural farming practices,” Kerry says. “It gives us a lot of pleasure to share that good, clean, wholesome food with customers who appreciate it.”
The Dunaways never expected to cultivate a thriving farm in Middle Georgia during retirement.
“We are retired,” Kerry reassures his friends. “We were tired yesterday, and we are tired today, so we’re re-tired.”
Hobby Turned Livelihood
The decision to farm surfaced shortly into their retirement, which began simultaneously for Kerry and Robin on Dec. 31, 2008. Kerry served as the Crawford County sheriff for 25 years. Robin spent 28 years as the assistant district attorney in Macon and still serves as a part-time judge.
“When we retired, we thought it was pretty neat to be able to sit around at 9 a.m. and watch TV and the news,” Kerry says. “After 30 days, we realized that if we didn’t find something to do, there would be a killin’ in this house. We decided to go back to our farming roots and bought some land.”
“We decided we’d go play in the dirt again,” she says.
Kerry grew up on a Georgia farm with cows, peaches, pecans, wheat and corn. Robin’s family owned land outside the city, where they grew a large garden and cared for livestock during her childhood.
In 2009, the couple bought a 22-acre farm near Roberta, briefly ran a sawmill and sold composting worms throughout the U.S. They cut and constructed lumber for the barns on their farm, which provided the space to expand into livestock. Today, the bustling farm serves consumers, farm markets, restaurants and stores within a 50-miles radius. They also sell to a nationwide audience online at greenwayfarmsofga.com.
Georgia Supports Small Farms
The Dunaways quickly credit the Georgia Department of Agriculture for contributing to their farm’s success and its ability to help provide their livelihood. The state’s support has fueled small farm success in recent years.
“When Georgia Ag Commissioner Gary Black took office, he really changed the dynamic of production and marketing for smaller farms,” Kerry says. “The Georgia Grown program and other programs that Commissioner Black has started allow small farmers like us to reach markets much wider than we could have without such programs.”
The state’s programs offer a much-needed awareness and education about agriculture, the couple adds. As much as the peace, reduced stress and healthy exercise on their farm, the Dunaways embrace their role as educators.
While the type of people they encounter has changed, their life careers in law enforcement and criminal justice help as they maintain interactions with people to sell their farm’s goods, Robin says.
And as much as people misunderstand the inner dealings of the criminal world, the public near equally misunderstands agriculture, Kerry says.
“Educating people about the real world of agriculture has been fun and a little challenging, too,” Kerry says. “We’ve had to learn to approach things a little differently than if talking to a fellow farmer. Educating the consumer is part of our mission by being involved in agriculture.”