It’s pergola season at the farm again!

Who knew?!  Who could ever have imagined that as Mary and I sat down a few years back to create our 5 to 10 year plan for our little “farm” – that a simple little conversation on lawn chairs would result in the farm plan taking off in just 3 short years.

One of our 16 x 16 pergolas erected around a patio.
One of our 16 x 16 pergolas erected around a patio.

Our one goal more than any other at the farm was that the farm had to be built with zero debt.  That we could and would only build WHAT we could, WHEN we could.  After all – this was our dream – and we didn’t want the dream to be full of the stress of payments – or rushing to get this or that done. Hence – the 5 to 10 year plan to creating the barn, landscaping and someday a house for the farm as we could afford it.  Who knew that one little conversation would make it all happen in just a few years.

Our barn pergola - a favorite spot at the farm to sit and relax
Our barn pergola – a favorite spot at the farm to sit and relax

I remember the day and the conversation like it was yesterday.  After clearing the land and putting in our first garden  – we sat exhausted in the late afternoon sun on couple of old rickety lawn chairs to admire the first planting of our garden.  There was no barn, no bees, no little vineyard nor fruit trees planted – and the chicken coop was still a build it “next month” thought.  The only thing that resembled a driveway was the matted paths of two tire tracks coming down the hill for our car.

The very first pergola we ever built.
The very first pergola we ever built.

It was just three acres of cleared land and a patch of a garden – and that is when Mary said a simple sentence that ended up changing that farm scenery quicker than we could ever have imagined.  She said simply – “wouldn’t it be nice to have a place to sit and enjoy the garden, look out at the barn and chicken coop, and relax when we are done working each day? – maybe a pergola?”

Another one of our favorites - love the way they decorated to make it their own!
Another one of our favorites – love the way they decorated to make it their own!

And that was it.  Within a few minutes – we had the perfect spot picked out  – and decided that it would be our first “building project” for the farm. The rustic and beautiful lines of a pergola just seemed to fit the theme of what we wanted our Old World Garden Farm to be about. Over the course of the next few weeks we looked everywhere to buy our dream pergola.  The problem was, we couldn’t find one we liked. We seemed to have two choices –  flimsy metal canopies that came with a not-so flimsy price –  or ultra expensive wood kits that required the equivalent of a house payment.  So we decided on a third option…design an old world pergola and build it.

The pergola in the driveway - how it all started.
The pergola in the driveway – how it all started.

With no power still at the farm, and much like our chicken coop – we built our farm pergola in the driveway of our suburban neighborhood.  We designed the curves tracing out samples on cardboard scraps until we came up with the curves and cuts we liked.  We didn’t like the look of all of the metal straps on the commercial units – so instead we designed ours to have true wood notches to make it strong and durable.  After a few days and some trial and error – it stood proud in our driveway and ready to go.

A pergola kit all cut and ready to be picked up.
A pergola kit all cut and ready to be picked up.

That’s when the  real magic happened.  As the pergola sat in the driveway awaiting to be torn down and reassembled at the farm – Mary’s phone rang. The parents of a couple down the street had driven by the house and wanted to know if it was for sale. She innocently asked where we had purchased it , because like us – she had been looking for a “real-wood” pergola. Before we knew it – we were building another for them – deciding we could use the profit to put towards maybe someday building our barn and other dreams at the farm.  We built that one in the driveway too – and during the process a note appeared on the half-built pergola asking if we would build another….and then another.  That year, in just a few months we built and sold 15 pergolas…and every single bit of the profits were poured back into our farm.

It is always neat to get pictures back to see the pergolas up and in place.
It is always neat to get pictures back to see the pergolas up and in place.

So in our spare time we have become builders of pergolas and arbors.  Taking something we love to do – building – and turning it into a way to build our farm on a budget.  We even created an Etsy Shop (Click Here For Our Store) to sell the plans for those that live far away or want to make their own.  All in all – its been a great way to meet so many great people.

A big order for 3 at once ready to go.
A big order for 3 at once ready to go.

People have driven from all over to pick them up. They have ended up now in four states including Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Pennsylvania. The fact that we had to build ours and transport it turned into a plus – because the design made it easy for people to pick them up disassembled in a small truck or even SUV’s. We never get tired of getting pictures back from those that have purchased – telling us how they have “made it their own”.   We love the stories of enjoying their morning coffee outside, having an outdoor dinner, or enjoying a glass of wine at night under the stars. It makes us happy to see others enjoying their own “little slice of heaven” – just like we enjoy ours at our farm.

Using notches instead of metal straps creates a clean look.
Using notches instead of metal straps creates a clean look.

With our love of travel – we have even thought about maybe someday taking a few road trips to build a few for those that might want one a little farther away. I think the real story for so many like us that want to live a more simple life and to create our own place and pace – is that you should do what you love to do – and never stop working at it – and it can happen.

Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary    – You can email us at : thefarm@owgarden.com

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