Meet Saira Meneses

women in business series from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

So excited to introduce you to Saira Meneses from Purpose Driven Family Farms. I met her and her husband at the Dirtbag Ales Farmers market last October. As soon as this crisis that our county is facing is over, I am planning a trip to their farm to write about what they do. But in the meantime, meet Saira Meneses. Also, a quick reminder if you missed getting to know any of these amazing women you can check them out here.

Meet Saira Meneses in the Women in Business Series from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

Tell me a little bit about you.

Hi, I am Saira Meneses. I grew up an Army brat. Born in Honduras (Central America), I lived there until I was 8yrs old and then moved stateside (Texas). What a culture shock it was to start school in the US. My first language was Spanish, the only phrase I knew in English was “Hi, my name is Saira”. It was about six months into my 3rd grade when I started to speak well enough, and I could understand all that was said. In 1997 we moved to Fayetteville North Carolina. It’s where my Dad finished out his time in the army. As most that come to Fort Bragg, it seems you never leave. I was able to attend Highschool (Cornerstone Christian Academy) without having to move again. I went away my 1st year of college and moved back to finish my Bachelor’s at Fayetteville State University in Business Administration (Concentration in Management). It took a little longer to finish my schooling because I worked full time. In the middle of it all, I took a break from school. I met a business owner in 2004 and started working for him as his office assistant. Within a few months, I became the business manager. I managed his stores, construction, and trucking company. 

In 2008 I met my husband (active duty service member), we got married in March of 2010. Shortly after the wedding, he deployed. We had our daughter at Womack Army Medical Center. In 2012, he received orders for Hawaii and had our second child at Tripler Army Medical Center. Hawaii was very expensive, most of the vegetables/fruits where imported from many different countries. Which became a challenge because we wanted to give our kids food that was organic as much as possible. It’s when my husband started a very expensive hobby, aquaponics (growing plants with fish). Since he traveled all the time I started to help him with all the systems. It became something we both enjoyed doing together. We were able to grow our own tomatoes, herbs, and fish. In Hawaii, space is limited but we built our systems in a tiny backyard. We had the kids get involved with the whole process. We realized it was something we could do as a family and possibly a business. I had started homeschooling our 4yr old; she loved being able to help out with seeding and seeing the fish. In 2014 my husband and I sought to strengthen our marriage by doing the Purpose Driven Life devotional together. We wanted to start a business, but we wanted to make sure it was done with God’s blessing. I remember sitting at my desk when we were thinking of a name to give our new baby (business). I saw the book, and thought that’s it! Purpose Driven Agriculture as the given name. We did as much as we could while station in Hawaii. I knew it was not our permanent “home”, he was in line to get his next promotion. That would require us making one more move and it would be going back to Fort Bragg also known as the “Center of the Universe”.

In 2015 we got orders to move back to Fayetteville/Fort Bragg. We purchased a home with 2 acres with the potential of buying an extra 7 acres adjacent. On what seemed one of the coldest nights in January 2016 (for us islanders), we exited the plane in t-shirts, beach shorts, flip-flops and immediately realized that we were not in Waikiki ‘no-mo’. As we settled in our new home/country life from island living, we started from scratch to begin farming. Aquaponics was a future plan, but not something we could start anytime soon. My husband was still active duty and it was an interesting transition to go from growing plants in water to planting produce in the soil. Having sunny/warm days to not sure what NC weather was going to be that week or even day. We started with chickens and growing produce in raised beds that my husband built. We were slowly learning and gradually showing the capability to grow and harvest our own foods. The following year, we made the final decision… after retirement we would go into farming/stewardship. We thought this is great! We have 36 months to plan this new journey, to save up and get things rolling. But as we all know, our plans don’t always go, as we want them too. Just a few months later a set of events went into motion and what we originally thought we had (36 months) to plan was reduced to less than 18 months. My husband’s healthcare team came together and recommended that my husband’s chronic medical conditions prevent him from performing his duties and therefore, initiated a Medical Retirement Board. Time to make changes to our plan. Everything would be ok, after all, we/I were used to things always changing right at the last minute. I did grow up in the Army after all and then I married into it. We knew all along we wanted our farm to be different. We wanted to be farm driven by a higher purpose. We had a vision, a vision that had been placed in our hearts. I won’t lie, I was a little nervous/scared but we took that leap trusting in the vision/purpose that had been placed in our heart. So, we went ahead and registered our farm Purpose Driven Agriculture in our local county office doing business as Purpose Driven Family Farm. I had officially exchanged my suits and heels for coveralls and boots for good. 

Tell me about your business.

My husband and I own a veteran family farm. Most people call us farmers. But we see ourselves as stewards. We are stewards of our land and our animals. We raise livestock differently than most. Every animal has a purpose on the farm. 

Our mission has been and will always be:

  1.  To raise livestock organically/non-gmo as much as we can afford. Our animals are raised humanely with integrity, love, and respect outdoors on pasture/woodland with one bad day. They get loved on a daily basis. 
  2. To grow produce organically (pesticides free). 
  3. We strive to provide Quality and not by Quantity. 
  4. To help and work with veterans who are interested in farming/homesteading.

We just recently partnered up with another veteran to join our family team. He leads the planting and Aquaponics side on our farm. My husband and he are diligently working on that side. I work with raising livestock (pigs, chicken for meat, chicken for eggs, turkeys, ducks, sheep, and cows) and handle the administration of the farm.

Meet Saira Meneses in the Women in Business Series from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

What struggles have you faced in your business? 

  1. 1st generation farmers, we have had to learn everything from the ground up. With many many trial and error. 
  2. Using organic/non gmo/natural methods. We get the craziest looks. It’s hard to understand our “why”. We don’t expect everyone to understand it either. Our why is what drives us to continue everyday. I think the main reason its because God has called us to do it. We have been given this purpose, and until God says stop. We will continue!

How have you overcome those struggles?

With lots of prayers and hard work! I can’t tell you how many times as I’m doing the chores I’m constantly praying and asking… Are you sure?! Is this really where you REALLY want us?! Every time the answer is yes! I will provide, steadfast on your path and you will see. This year God’s word for me is Perseverance. Farming requires lots of perseverance and hard work.

Who were your mentors growing up?

My parents and Grandma. My parents always said work hard for what you want, if it was easy everyone would do it. My parents visit us to help with lots of projects on the farm. My Grandma owed a business when I was a child. I remember watching her work and push through every obstacle that came her way. She now lives with us for half of the year. She comes out to help me with caring for the animals. 

If you were to give advice to a woman going into the field you are in what would it be?

Find someone who is already doing it, and seek his or her knowledge! Research every aspect of farming. Have a clear path on what kind of farming (livestock, growing, teaching) to start. Lastly, write it down.

Meet Saira Meneses in the Women in Business Series from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

Have you found that being a woman in your field is harder or easier? Tell me about the advantages and disadvantages of being a woman.

I have found it to be very interesting. When we are at a livestock meeting, everyone will bypass me and go to my husband to ask him about the livestock. He turns to me, so they know I’m the one who will know more about that subject. It takes time for a room full of men doing the same thing as you to take you serious. I think that is in every job. You make the most of it and push forward.

Have you ever have to overcome a hostile work environment? 

The most hostile job I have had was when I worked as an office manager. I managed several teams, they were all a lot older than me. It was a challenge to earn their respect. I wanted their respect not just because they had too, but they really wanted too. I needed to prove to them I had their best interest in mind, along with achieving our goal. I wanted everyone to succeed. If I asked for them to do something, I got my hands dirty along with them. My motto was I won’t ask you to do something I haven’t done myself. 

What made you decide on your chosen field? 

My husband. He had gone through many deployments, many health issues, and he found farming to be very peaceful/relaxing. It is his best therapy. I saw that it could really help him, and wanted to support him. In the beginning, all I wanted to raise was chickens and grow our own produce. One day he came home with 2 piglets and 3 sheep. I looked at him, and asked him “what in the world am I suppose to do with this?” I don’t eat pork, I said. For about 12 yrs I could not consume pork without having some serious pains. I found out that my gallbladder would not process the chemicals or hormones found in mass-produced pork meat and I would get sick (throw up/stomach pains). What the animal consumes does have an effect on your body. 

I did not go to school for farming. But, our purpose was clear and my husband and I would do everything possible to follow it. Still, though, I had no idea how to raise pigs or sheep. I started researching and researching, learning the dos and don’ts. Many trials and errors after trial and error have allowed us to define how we will achieve our calling. Farming is a nonstop learning lifestyle. Future farm ladies, just know that the idea of fencing MAY take years to master. Overall, farming has been challenging yet so rewarding. I absolutely love what we do! 

Similar Posts:

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.