Slow, Cut Flowers and a Solar Home

This couple’s DIY drive led them to establish a cut-flower business and build a mortgage-free solar home.

| December 2016/January 2017

Each year, we salute the resourcefulness, commitment, and gumption of remarkable homesteading families with our Homesteaders of the Year awards. Megan and Jonathan Leiss, one of three winning families for 2016, have set an inspiring example of the challenges and rewards of a self-reliant life. From 12 acres in Hurdle Mills, North Carolina, this couple sells cut flowers through their business, Spring Forth Farm. Megan and Jonathan have lived in a 7-by-11-foot remodeled camper since purchasing their property in 2013, which has allowed them to build their solar home slowly without a mortgage — a process that has been a source of experimentation, education, and community. They’ve worked to reclaim and rebuild soil that grew tobacco for at least a century, and their primary farm crop is flowers. In the following interview, the Leisses detail their DIY lifestyle.

How did you choose cut flowers as your market crop?

Our area is saturated in vegetable production, but we found an opening in the local-flower movement. Now, we grow cut flowers for florists, weddings, and weekly subscribers. Appreciation of local products has moved beyond food, and on a per-square-foot basis, flowers are a profitable crop compared with most vegetables.

What inspired you to start down the homesteading road?

We both grew up in North Carolina and longed for a life that revolved around gardening and that embraced the beauty of the natural world. Megan grew up in the woods, where she was home-schooled and learned to garden. Before we met, we were each working to save money to buy land. Megan worked in Alaska in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and on a salmon gillnetter. Jonathan worked for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, living on a train and teaching the circus families’ children.

You’ve been living in a 77-square-foot camper and you still get along?

mother earth news fair


Feb. 17-18, 2018
Belton, Texas

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, hands-on workshops, and great food!