A Tale of Two Homesteaders

By Sawyer Wilson / Photography By Alana Rasbach | June 24, 2016
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Hardboiled eggs are harder to peel when they’re farm fresh. Raspberries are ripe when they fall off the vine. Just a bit of conventional wisdom from self-described “fledgling homesteaders” Alana and Dan Rasbach.

Homesteading for the Rasbachs “is a desire for things to be more natural and less fake, a desire to get to see where things come from and to be less dependent on outside input.”

Alana grew up on acres of land with plenty of pets. Dan, a biology major in college, always had an interest in gardening, though he would never consider himself to have a green thumb. Chickens were never a part of either of their childhood, but getting backyard chickens set the pace for the Rasbachs’ homesteading journey.

Experiencing the unique connection to food that farm-fresh eggs and produce provide (as well as the documentary Food Inc.), gave the Rasbachs’ reason to rethink the best way to access and consume food. Recognizing it was time to leave East Nashville, they moved out towards Ashland City for more space. The couple also homeschools their oldest child, who “knows more than I ever did about animals at this age and he’s only six,” says Alana.

Excitedly, they explain how letting the chickens into the garden allows them to naturally till the beds so that produce can grow. Once produce is harvested, any extra kitchen scraps can go back to the chickens, giving them the nutrients they need to produce quality eggs. After this process, the chickens can be put back into the garden to fertilize the earth. Experiences like this are what fascinate the Rasbach family, sustaining their education throughout their journey as homesteaders.


The Forlines call themselves “urban homesteaders.” Michelle is a country girl at heart while her husband Dane is an urbanist—when they got married the two naturally melded together. They grew to love what the other loved. Michelle grew up in the country and, although the family never lived on a farm, her dad constantly involved the four kids in gardening and caring for animals (cows, goats, chickens, rabbits, bees, and more).

When the couple made the decision to live their lives in the city, they wanted to do as much as possible with whatever little piece of land they owned. Gardening helps Michelle feel connected to creation and the earth through harvesting and preserving the vegetables they’ve nurtured. Gardening was their first delve into homesteading, then bees and chickens followed. The couple thinks it’s important for their kids to have the experience of caring for plants and animals, and are confident that it will help shape their children’s understanding of nature—as well as their work ethic. Michelle has dreams of one day adding goats, rabbits, and fruit trees to their urban homestead.

Photo 1: "Urban homesteaders," Dane and Michelle Forline at their East Nashville home last year, with kids—Elise, Justus, and Naomi (not shown). They started with gardens, then bees and chickens followed.
Photo 2: Dan Rasbach in the garden of their Whites Creek home. They love the natural cycle of the garden, chickens, and composting which comes full-circle on the land.
The Rasbach family, left to right: Jonas, Dan, Alana, and Shen.
Elise Forline checks out their bee hive.
Article from Edible Nashville at http://ediblenashville.ediblecommunities.com/food-thought/tale-two-homesteaders
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