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Creative land stewardship & rural entrepreneurship: Farmer & conservationist Christopher Joe



CHRISTOPHER JOE
Third generation farmer, conversationist and founder of Connecting with Birds and Nature Tours in Newbern, AL


Haying with Swallow-Tailed Kites flying around

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Christopher Joe, a 3rd generation Black Angus cattle farmer, a District Conservationist for the National Resources Conversation Service, and the founder of Connecting with Birds and Nature Tours. Christopher's family has owned 200 acres forests and fields in Alabama’s Black Belt since the early 1900s.


Christopher was raised with a deep respect of agriculture, land stewardship and the natural world. In addition to running the farm, Christopher's father worked as an agribusiness educator for over thirty years and Christopher earned a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness Management from Alabama A&M University.


Chris is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to finding creative ways to use your land to benefit yourself, your community and the greater ecosystem - no matter if you have hundreds of acres or a small allotment. At the NRCS Christopher works farmers and land owners to help them best utilize and conserve their property.


Christopher founded Connecting with Birds and Nature Tours in 2018. While looking for creative ways to diversify the Joe Farm's income streams, Christopher reached out to different area organizations and universities to get their thoughts on ways of incorporating agri-tourism into their farming operations. Connecting with Birds and Nature Tours was started with the desire to share Christopher's family's land with birders and naturalists.



By partnering with local small businesses, Christopher has created opportunities for the entire local economy. This has led to the creation of jobs, regional economic development, and support for local landowners/businesses, in his historically underserved community.


Chimney swift tower

In addition to the birding tours, Christopher and his father have begun to receive grants to build bird houses, towers and boxes for University studies.



He has also discovered a deep love of birding and photography. These days he never leaves home without his camera and his "rocket launcher" birding lens. Christopher's Instagram is filled with beautiful captures of the birds he finds and now he is selling his photo prints to visitors. In addition to his photography, they have added camping, nature walks, mountain biking, bird houses and other offerings to further diversify their farm income and ensure they can continue to maintain and keep their family land in the future.


CHRISTOPHER'S PHOTOGRAPHY



My hope is that Christopher's journey into agritourism will inspire others to think up creative ideas for diversified rural entrepreneurship and land stewardship. It's amazing to see the power and opportunity that one agritourism business can have on the greater natural and economic ecosystem.


I highly encourage anyone going through Alabama, even if you aren’t a birder, to go take a birding or naturalist tour at the Joe Farm. To learn more about their programming or schedule a tour visit their website.



Thank you Christopher for sharing your story with us!



LINKS

Connecting with Birds & Nature Tours Website

Instagram @birdsandnaturetours

Youtube