WINCHESTER, Ky. (AP) - Will Meurer always wanted to teach and coach. He achieved both goals following graduation from Eastern Kentucky University.
He taught math at George Rogers Clark for three years and also served as boys golf coach for one season, succeeding longtime coach Wes Martin following his retirement from the sport. He also maintained his farm on Combs Ferry Road on a part-time basis.
But after three years in the classroom, Meurer wanted to spend more time on the pasture and devoted his attention to Wholesome Living Farm, a business he founded in 2010. His first love was teaching and he still coaches basketball at Clark Middle School, but he doesn't regret leaving the teaching profession last spring.
Meurer, a 2005 graduate of George Rogers Clark High School, didn't discover a love for farming until participating in a five-week Governor's Scholar program at Eastern Kentucky University in 2004.
"As divine intervention would have it, I was put in a class called, 'Cows,'" he said. "We went to Meadowbrook Farm and saw what they had going on and got our hands dirty. I think that's kind of when the light bulb went off and opened my eyes to the fact that I have an opportunity to participate in farming and food and I didn't know what it was going to be like at that time. That's what got my wheels spinning."
Despite the career awakening that summer, he pursued his teaching degree, because he "knew that's something that I wanted to get into" and landed a full-time teaching postition at George Rogers Clark.
"It was typical math stuff," he said. "Each year went on and with the farm business, I would add one more enterprise and wanted to give myself an opportunity to give (farming) a shot."
The decision to leave teaching took a leap of faith for Meurer, who said he received support from his wife, Ashley. Paychecks would depend on his farming successes, rather than his twice-a-month stipend from the Clark County Schools.
"You give up the security of a position where you know there is going to be money in the bank every two weeks for something where there is no guarantees," he said. "You live by faith more than sight. You really appreciate life and it humbles you and it brings you closer to the community. I am fully dependent on members of the community to support my business and what I am doing. That is really what has been the neat part - you get to enjoy that dependence. The allure comes from the uncertainty day-in and day-out, you're not necessary sure of what's going to happen. Not every day is 70 degrees and sunshine. You battle a lot of things and that's part of it - no two days are the same."
Meurer's farm "utilizes multi-species, rotational grazing practices to fulfill our mission to steward creation in a redemptive way that builds soil, builds forgiveness into our ecosystem, and builds a bridge between our patrons and the food that nourishes them." His business provides pasture-raised poultry, grass-fed and finished beef and pasture-raised pork to area patrons and businesses. It's a business model that he said allows him to be closer to the community and has given him an "appreciation for the seasons."
"In June, July and August, you're putting in 80 to 90 hours per week and it's based on daylight," he said. "This time of year, I feel like I'm catching my breath and think of new ideas for next year. I'm more in tune with the cycle of nature."
Meurer's current stock features approximately 60 cattle and calves along with more than 300 chickens. He will add a new stock of pigs to his inventory next spring for his patrons and customers. He considers his venture a "redemption business."
"We want to redeem the animals, the food and therefore our community through food that is nutrient dense and raised with integrity that's positive for the soil and the environment," he said. "We are committed to our ministry to offer our local community integrity food that fully honors and respects the soil, the animals, the people, and the landscape we all share. We are humbled by the opportunity to provide your family with real, nutrient-dense food."