Myers' Favorite Story of 2022

Farmers Fight City Over Right to Operate Farm Store on Their Own Land

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
A family farm, and a small Tennessee town, are still waiting for a decision from an appeals court on whether a farm store violates zoning laws. (Photo courtesy of Bernard Farms)

Editor's Note:

The turn to winter traditionally has us thinking back over the year that was. Here in the DTN/Progressive Farmer newsroom, we're also prone to look back on the accomplishments, the challenges, and the things that didn't turn out as planned. In that vein, we again asked our reporters and editors to look back at some of their favorite stories from the year. The pieces range from hard-hitting investigative journalism, to heart-tugging stories of loss, to the fun discoveries that can be found on farmsteads and small towns. We hope you enjoy our writers' favorites, with today's story by Victoria G. Myers.


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (DTN) -- One of my favorite articles from 2022 is an ongoing story about a farm family's right to sell goods from a store on their own land, against the wishes of local, small-town leaders. The case remained in the hands of a Tennessee appeals court at publication time.

Stories that are special to me almost always start out with a call or an email from a reader. This one was no different.

Julie Bernard called to tell me about a two-year fight her family had been in over whether they have the right to run a farm store on their own land in Robertson County, Tennessee. The Bernards are fourth-generation farmers who wanted to add an income stream to their operation.

It seemed pretty basic, but the town of Orlinda and its leaders believed that when Robertson County rezoned the land where the farm store sits, it engaged in "spot rezoning." That led to today's ongoing legal challenges.

"We have fought this legal thing for them (the next generation), but we also truly believe that this farm store brings something positive to our community. We have had a lot of trouble understanding the pushback," said Steve Bernard, Julie's husband.

Initially, a Chancery court judge ruled in favor of the Bernard family and Robertson County on the rezoning issue. The city of Orlinda took the issue to the appeals court next.

No surprise, there's more to the story than rezoning and legal issues. There are plenty of real, or imagined, small-town jealousies and personal vendettas, giving residents of this rural county and town plenty to talk about. Where it all ends is still unknown. But I'll be reporting on the appeals court decision in the weeks ahead, and I'll be asking if that decision (whatever it may be) is indeed the end of the road for the issue, or if the city of Orlinda, or some of the principal parties, intend to pursue the matter further in the courts.

To read the original story in its entirety, go here:…

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Victoria Myers