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The beginning - part 2

In its current form, our land is made up of the Farm (vegetables and livestock), the Table (farm to table dinners), the Venue (weddings, parties and other social events) and the Retreat (glamping). Those are all areas that were important to my husband Houston and me. But I’m jumping ahead. If you haven’t read last week’s column, I encourage you to read it. It’s the first part of our story - our adventure, as I like to call it.

The adventure that we’re on at Purdon Groves started even before we closed on the property. For months we brainstormed with an architect friend who was starting his own firm. Meeting in our loft or one of downtown Dallas’s coffee shops, we talked about what we’d want in a venue - a space that could be used to host weddings and other social events.

Between first seeing the property and actually closing on it, we brought our architect, friends, family members and even artists to see the land. I think a few of them fell in love with it as much as we had. Our daughter Emilie was one of those people.

Not long after we closed on the property, Emilie moved to Dallas. She became interested in helping us develop the farm portion of the business. She and I met with a garden planner who provided invaluable insight and hands on help in starting our first garden. Some months later we began our hydroponic operation. Having the farm up and going would allow creatives in the Artist Work Exchange program to work in the garden while staying with us.

But in order to provide the property free of charge for working artists, there had to be a financial engine. The sale of our veggies wouldn’t be near enough. That’s where weddings and other events came into play. We loved the indoor venue that was designed, but the cost was more than we were prepared for at the time. We decided instead to focus our resources in other areas, primarily infrastructure.

Around this time, maybe during one of our weekly staff meetings or maybe while we were working at the property, Emilie suggested glamping as a way of making revenue in the meantime. I’m not sure if Houston or I had ever heard of the term. The more she talked about it, the more we really began to consider it seriously. Now, four years after putting up our first canvas tent, we’ve expanded our glamping business, making it the most profitable part of what we’re doing on our property.

Whether we’re hosting one of our Chef’s Table Experience dinners, leading a private farm tour, interacting with college student volunteers or meeting glamping guests, I know we’re doing some really valuable work. The richness of spending time with others is its own reward.

This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, in the August 6, 2022 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.

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