Deeply rooted
By Paul Bilodeau

As the early morning sun, low in the sky, starts to rise, Laura Greenfield gets right to work, gathering her tools from a shed on her family's farm.

Laura Greenfield is passionate about trees. She can rattle off the Latin names of species alongside the common names. She's up first thing every morning filling orders from buyers for Kentucky native trees and shrubs. She's dedicated, strong and at 30 years old is on a path to become the next manager of her family’s 147-year-old farm.

Although she grew up in Lexington, several miles away from Oakland Farm, Laura had fond memories from her childhood of visiting her maternal grandmother's property near Paris. Long family walks across the fields, spending nights in an upstairs bedroom with the windows open, listening to the coyotes howl and the “rustling leaves on the trees,” she says.

Laura shares a special bond with her mother, Jo, who works alongside her filling orders and processing paperwork, selling trees at the local farmer's market and making deliveries. “Mommy’s always been so encouraging of me,” Laura says.

Oakland Farm Trees is where Laura spends much of her time, operating a small tree and shrub nursery growing native Kentucky trees, species such as kingnut hickory, black maple and bur oaks. “Native trees and shrubs are essential to the health of our ecosystems across Kentucky," Laura says. "Demand for them is growing and it's important that there is reliable, healthy, diverse nursery stock that folks can depend on.”

The 700-acre farm, about one square mile of land, sits along the narrow, rolling Route 627. Laura and her fiancé, Bobby Carey Jr., 34, work together on the farm moving the cattle between fields, collecting data on the health of the calves and bulls and potting and irrigating trees.

As Bobby and Laura ride through the field talking about working the land, Bobby says, “we are trying to build soil, not take it.”

Her uncle, Doug Witt, 61, currently manages the farm but is starting the process of transitioning the job to Laura and Bobby. Doug says he feels a sense of peace and joy knowing that family will continue to manage the farm. “It’s just really nice to have the option to have somebody in the family step up and want to keep that tradition going.”

Laura and her fiancé Bobby Carey drive through one of the many fields on her family's 700-acre farm as they head to move cattle from one field to another.

Laura studies the different tags on the trees she has grown at Oakland Farm Trees as she fills orders for clients, who will be arriving later in the day to pick up their orders.

Oakland Farm Trees client Laura Taylor of Bedford points to the trees she bought - flowering dogwood, sugar maple and eastern redbud. She is reshaping her yard and wanted to replant with local species of trees.

Laura reaches to grab a witch hazel leaf at her tree nursery, Oakland Farm Trees. The tattoo on her arm is of witch hazel; she says she has used the plant her whole life.

Laura and her mother, Jo, take a moment to talk during a busy day of collecting trees to fulfill orders at the family's Oakland Farm. "Mommy's always been so encouraging of me," Laura says.

Laura drives down a winding farm road as she heads home after a long day on her family farm.

Laura reacts to her friend, Andrea Pompei, who went for a hiking trip in Sycamore Canyon, AZ, and brought back leaves for Laura. The two talked while Laura was visiting Andrea's bakery, Hopewell Bake Exchange, on Main Street.

After leaving her friend's bakery, Laura heads back to her car to go to work on the farm.

Laura looks up at a large kingnut hickory tree on her family's farm as she searches for nuts to use to grow new trees.

Laura and Bobby walk together toward a barn at the back of the farm to check and see if the resident barn owl has returned.