While working as a nurse in a hospital, Lyne Martin started to notice a correlation between health and diet. She also realized that the conventional way of raising chickens and cows was unhealthy for those that eat them, the animals and the environment.

“I started seeing a relationship between the way our food was raised and cancer, diabetes, heart and other diseases,” she said. “When we moved here, we weren’t looking for any land, I just wanted a house. It came with some acreage and my son got a few chickens and started raising them. When he went to college, I took over.”

The chickens led to the formation of a homestead that Lyne Martin and her husband Kevin now call “Sunrise Acres Farm.” Like many who start farming on a small scale, Martin read anything she could get her hands on to learn about raising animals for food. She now has a huge collection of books. 

“I realized the food system was broken and it was leading to broken health,” she said. “For me and my family and grandkids, I wanted to have healthier food. I thought that the only way to know it was healthy is if you raise it yourself and know what went into it.”

When an additional five acres adjacent to the Martin’s property came available, they purchased it to expand their ever-growing pasture-based operation. 

“It was overgrown pasture, so we had to put animals on it to get it back under control, so we bought some sheep and cows,” she said. “We used to raise our chickens in a conventional coop, but we found out if you raised the chickens with the cows and let them free-range, they can tear up the manure, help with the fly cycle and fertilize the land. It was all one big system just like it was meant to be.”

After setting up her farming operation with the help of her husband, Martin realized that it was a bit lonely.

“The people I work with, they think I’m a little odd for wanting to raise my own food and I spend all this time moving cows and this and that,” she said. “I thought it would be nice if there was a local group of homesteaders, someone like minded.”

After doing some research, Martin realized that there wasn’t a local group of women homesteaders, so she decided to start one. The National Ladies Homestead Gathering was first formed by in Georgia by Cyndi Ball for exactly the same reason. She posted on her farm Facebook page an invitation to all women interested in homesteading. More than 20 women gathered at her farmhouse for the first meeting. The group grew from there and other chapters were formed across the country.

The National Ladies Homestead Gathering provides a welcoming environment where women can share knowledge, celebrate victories and address challenges while cultivating community with like-minded women. All women are welcome who have a dream or desire to be more self-reliant. Whether their homesteads are in the planning phase or already established, all women have something to contribute or gain from coming together.

The mission statement of the National Ladies Homestead Gathering is to share knowledge, build community and grow friendships. The purpose is to empower women through homesteading. A Homesteader is defined as those who “do at home,” instead of going to the store.

The first meeting of the Lincoln County Ladies Homestead Gathering will be held on Friday, March 6 at 6 p.m. at the Morris Fellowship Hall at Boger City Baptist Church in Lincolnton. 

“We’re just going to go with it and see what people want to learn the most and try to find somebody to teach us,” Martin said. “They (the national group) likes you, if you can, to find instructors within our group and as you exhaust the knowledge within the group to try to find knowledge outside. I think it’s good if anybody can learn a skill and be more self-reliant. A lot of times it’s scary. It’s scary when you start doing something because you’re learning as you go. Sometimes fear keeps you from doing it. If you’ve got somebody who’s willing to help you, you’re a lot more willing to do it.”

Boger City Baptist Church is located at 2201 East Main Street in Lincolnton. It is free to attend and open to all women. The meeting begins at 6 and will run until 8 p.m. For more information on the local chapter, visit Lyne Martin’s Facebook page.

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