Episode #9 – Leah Lauchlain of Aberlin Springs shares her story of how her vision to raise her children in one of America’s best Agrihoods became a beautiful reality.
On this episode of Agrihood Radio we’re having an in-depth conversation with Leah Lauchlain. Leah and her family are residents of the beautiful Agrihood, Aberlin Springs. Which is located just outside of Cincinnati in Morrow, Ohio.
During our visit to Aberlin Springs, we had the great pleasure of experiencing what a true farm to table community was all about.
Since our visit we’ve been following up with some of the residents of Aberlin Springs and having them share their personal experience of what it’s like to live in one of the most amazing Agrihoods we have seen along our tour of over twenty properties.
Leah shares her story of how her and her husband Cliff discovered this gem of a community. She also wants to encourage others to do their research and see if there’s an Agri-Community near you. If so, she says you owe it to yourself and your family to have a visit, and see what an incredible living experience Agrihoods offers.
Leah also says she often advises people to make the investment in time, money and resources to know where their food comes from and being willing to pay a higher price for quality food and local food. At some point for not being intentional about your health, we’ll either pay the price on the front end where you’re invested in higher quality foods, time and resources into finding where it’s available. Or unfortunately sometimes we pay for it on the backend with poor health. And that cost is much higher because it’s tied to your quality of living and longevity.
Enjoy today’s chat with Leah Lauchlain from Aberlin Springs in Morrow, OH.
Brett: Hey, Leah. How’s it going?
Leah: Oh, I’m doing great. How are you?
Brett: Fantastic. We wanted to try and get this done a few days ago, and you texted me back and God Bless you, you said you were wiped out with the flu, the stomach bug hit you, you were in bed, you almost said, “Let’s do this.” Then you said, “No, I’m going to hold off.” Are you feeling better?
Leah: Yes, all six of us in my family were hit pretty hard with the stomach flu, yeah. So the plague hit our house. But we have recovered, so I’m feeling great now.
Brett: You sound great, back on your feet. So what I want to do is have you help us, share with us the storyline of how you became a resident of in our opinion one of the most beautiful Agrihoods in the country, Aberlin Springs out there in Morrow, Ohio. There’s people listening now that have no clue of what an Agrihood is. You were there at one point along your journey, you heard of an Agrihood, it made sense to you and now you are actually an Agrihood resident. And my wife and I are looking for an
Agrihood for our family. So share your story with us and those listening, and help us see the picture of how this all happened.
Leah: Yes. So it was quite the journey that started many years ago. But when the transition really came where we were introduced to the concept is when we were looking into either buying or building a home in a community …
Brett: What year was this?
Leah: This was back in I want to say 2016. Yeah, I think it’s been about three years maybe even going on, yeah, it’s been about three years ago, the concept was introduced to us. And we had three kids at the time, we were about to get pregnant with the fourth, and so we just valued community and valued healthy living and valued doing life with neighbors versus not knowing who you lived around. We had all those values, but didn’t really know how to find that in a home. And so we were in the process of deciding whether we wanted to buy a home or build a home, and we wanted to put down roots.
And so we happen to be in the sales office of Pendragon Homes who was a local home builder who builds affordable custom homes, and we were standing there and the sales rep was talking to us about building a house in different areas that we were close to. And then he left the room, and my husband and I were standing there and I looked, I was looking around the sales office and then the brochure caught my eye, and it was a flyer advertising Aberlin Springs and describing what it was, that it was farm-to-table living, that it was a neighborhood that would be based on community and doing life with people and wellness and living off the land. And so I’m reading this description of this Agri-Community, and I look at my husband and I’m like, “We will live here.”
Brett: Just like that.
Brett: Because … I’m going to put a pause there for one second, because I want people to hear this, because you had no clue, you didn’t go there looking for an Agri-Community or an Agrihood.
Brett: You had no clue what that was, he didn’t initially explain what an Agri-community was, the sales rep. You happened to see a brochure that caught your eye. Is that fair?
Leah: Yes, that’s exactly right.
Leah: Yeah, the sales rep never mentioned it, and I had never even heard of the term before. And so I’m reading it and it put into words and in a visual what I felt like … I think I even said to my husband, I’m like, “This is what I always have wanted but didn’t even know how to describe it and didn’t even know how to say that I wanted this.” And so then that set into motion a series of events where we became a part of phase one of Aberlin Springs. And there were some … It was a journey to get to the point where we are now, but we’ve lived in our home for about six months in the Agri-Community. We moved in in the summer of 2018, so it’s been about six months that we have enjoyed life here. And it’s been more satisfying than we even expected, and we had high expectations.
Brett: So Amy and Mike Schneider, your neighbors there, they’re awesome, I mean, they should have their own podcast show. I mean, those two, there I love listening to them, but here’s what’s cool – they get on the phone, they were both on speakerphone, it was like I was right there with them, and I’ve never met them but I felt like I’ve known them for years. It was a great share.
But they had said the same thing that Mike wasn’t on board with an Agrihood. Amy had heard of it, Mike was, “Well, what is this farm-to-table you’re talking about?” And they happened to be sitting in church next to Barbara, the Aberlin, and she got to talking and said let’s go take a look at this place, and kind of like the same thing you said, just kind of came across their path. And once it did, Leah, it would just made a hundred percent sense, didn’t it?
Leah: It did. And really the other homes that we were looking at at the time and the other options that we had which were great options, good options, good communities. They just paled in comparison to what Aberlin Springs had to offer. And every time we would reconsider maybe not doing the Agri-Community, we’re like, “Oh, man, we would really miss out on so much. It’s not just a home that we would get, you really gain a lifestyle and a community of like-minded people that in my experience has been unlike any other place that I’ve lived or any other experience that I’ve had that close friends of mine have had.”
Brett: So is this 100% correct, the sales person, sales rep comes back from wherever he was, he comes back in the room, you’re holding this brochure then you say, “Hey, what about this? What’s this all about?” Is that how it went down?
Leah: That’s exactly how it went down. And he was like, “Oh, there’s this …”
Brett: By the way …
Leah: Yeah, exactly. I was surprised that he hadn’t mentioned it, and would not had mentioned it had I not pointed out the brochure. And almost sort of discouraged us, because at that time there was a waiting list of 60 people, and they hadn’t even broken ground. And so he kind of said, “Look into it, but good luck, I don’t think it’s an option for you.” But we pursued it and ended up getting on the initial waiting list and had pretty top pick of the first round of lots that were being sold here.
Brett: I mean, Leslie the developer, Leslie Ratliff, she broke records over there as far as people coming there and putting deposits on lots, didn’t she? I heard it was on the news, it was a pretty big deal.
Leah: It was, yeah. It was the talk of the town and people drive by here every day. Actually in my home I have an office that looks out at our street and so I just see people go by, and I can’t tell you how many cars are going by and looking and taking pictures. And I mean, it’s a daily stream of people wanting to check it out and understand what’s happening here.
Brett: So let’s move on, this is awesome; I love this stuff, because you know why? I mean, we’re in your shoes right now, where you were when you started this journey. I was in my living room watching CBS Sunday Morning, a segment comes on about Agrihoods, they’re down in Georgia, they’re touring Serenbe one of the biggest in the country. And I saw this and I get goose bumps down my neck, up my arms, everywhere, and I said to my wife when she got out of bed I said this is it. So here we go, so you take the brochure home, your husband’s name is …
Brett: All right, you and Cliff on the way home are talking about this, is Cliff on board right away on the drive home?
Leah: He was open to it and definitely not resistant. I can’t say he was as passionate as I was. I grew up eating organic food before it was trendy, and my parents have always been a little more progressive and holistic healing and health and wellness and eating whole foods, and knowing where your food is being made and processed and grown and raised, and all of that. So I grew up in that world before it was cool. And so it’s been a passion of mine since I was younger, and not so much for him. So he wasn’t resistant, not maybe the same level of passion and excitement that I had.
Leah: But he was willing to explore it, and we did that together. And he was very open to that.
Brett: Because like most guys … doesn’t Cliff have a tattoo on his left arm that says happy wife, happy life?
Leah: Yep. Exactly, he does. That’s good for him.
Brett: Happy spouse, happy house. I get it. So on the ride home, are you guys talking about this Agrihood on the entire ride home? Was this a topic of discussion on the ride back to the house?
Leah: Yes, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t believe that it was happening, and it was happening in our backyard. We lived seven minutes from where it was being built, which we had no idea until that time. So I couldn’t stop thinking about it once the concept was introduced.
Brett: So let’s go through this, again, so you get back to the house, did you start researching it, what’s the next step? Because now you have the brochure but there’s nothing but dirt, they tell you there on a waiting list 60 people deep, now what?
Leah: Very soon after that Aberlin Springs had an open house where it was just an event open to the community where you could actually come and walk the lot. That I believe had been somewhat cleared at that point, but there was still no road. I mean, we were driving up a gravel driveway to go up to the farm. And so we went to this open house and got to talk to some other sales representatives and meet Leslie and walk the lot, and just learn more. We were in an information gathering mode at that time. And I do believe that day we put down a thousand dollar deposit to have a lot choice.
Brett: Mike said the same thing.
Leah: I believe that was the next step, yeah. And so we wrote a thousand dollar check and said we want to choose a lot as soon as we can. And then that set things in motion.
Brett: How much did Leslie Ratliff have to do with your decision-making process?
Leah: Probably the most impactful thing that Leslie had to do with the decision-making process is that she was building her home here as well, and not only that, she was building her mother’s home here as well. And that gave, for me, gave it so much credibility and reliability and took what maybe seems like a little bit of risk out of it. I’m like, “Okay, wait a minute, this woman who owns this building company and whose mom owns this farm, she’s putting down roots, and her two children one of which a special-needs, this is where she wants to raise those kids, and this is the environment and community she wants them to be in and her mother.” And so that gave it just this level of credibility that I thought if she’s willing to go in on this, then I can too.
And I know where she lives, I can find her if I need to. If this blows up I’ll know where to find her. And it just maybe trust, that it wasn’t just a person trying to make money, although there’s nothing wrong with that. It wasn’t just some kind of flash-in-the-pan business opportunity, but it was something that somebody wanted to put roots down and really live this lifestyle.
Brett: You could almost say it was a no-brainer at that point.
Leah: It was. For me when I’m like, “Oh, you’re building here too, like a few doors down and your mom is building here, okay, well, then I trust it enough to be in.”
Brett: Did she share her vision with you as far as … I mean, because she shared it with us, and when she told us how this all came about it really was impressive.
Leah: Yes, I’ve heard many stories as we’ve been on this three-year journey. I’ve heard many stories of how it’s come about and the conversations that have happened and unfolded. And just the healing that Leslie has been through in her whole health journey and how it’s impacted that. And the people that were involved, her staff who worked for her are incredible, and they as well had a vision and passion for this. So the story continues to unfold. Every time we’re together I hear more bits and pieces of the story and how it happened and what’s next.
Brett: There’s a lot of great history at that farm, there really is.
Leah: There is.
Brett: That Swiss Chalet they have, the main house, that if you really didn’t know any different you would think you somewhere in Switzerland, it has Swiss …
Leah: I know.
Brett: It has that concept of a Swiss Chalet that Mr. Aberlin designed, and then he couldn’t stop with one, he had to build a total of three houses that have been there for a long … I mean, that was where they lived, and there’s a lot of great history. So okay, let’s go on with the story, I love it, so now you’re saying you got the call, you can build, did you get a chance to choose from several different home sites or were you limited at that point?
Leah: Let’s see, I think we were the third or fourth to choose. And there were 12 total lots. So we were early on the list. And Amy got the exact lot that we wanted, but we could not be more happy with where our home is, so we’re right by the Schneider’s.
Brett: I was going to ask you about that, you must be right next Mike and Amy.
Leah: Yes, we’re lot six and they’re lot seven. If we would have chose first we would have chose lot seven. But they snagged it up first, and so this was the next best one for us.
Brett: I don’t think there’s a bad lot there, we were there this past Fall, we took a tour and that was one of our stops along our 21 Agrihood visits. And it is a beautiful place, especially that driveway as you are coming up and then when the sun starts to set coming down into the Fall the leaves are all changing colors, it’s a great place to be.
So now let’s fast forward, your house is built, you’re moving in, did I miss anything? I mean, when Cliff finally turned around and said, “Okay, I really think this is the way we’re going to go.” Was there a turning point for him? Because there’s guys listening right now, Mike said the other day on his call like, “My guy friends have no clue, they think I’m a farmer, and they’re not sure what the heck is going on up there in Aberlin Springs.” He said his guy friends, I don’t know if they razz him, but they may give him a little guff once in a while. So when did Cliff get it? And when was he on board with you?
Leah: Yeah, it was pretty early on. I mean, I would have to maybe make sure he agrees with this story.
Brett: No, it’s okay, he’ll never hear this. (laughter)
Leah: This part of the story. Yeah, but from my memory it’s when we walked the lot and paid that thousand dollars. That was when we really saw the property and learned more about what the community was about. Now at that point we could still pull out if we needed to, and so I think we would have lost our thousand dollars, but he was interested enough that we were willing to put that down knowing that we could back out if we needed to. But as we progressed we really just got more and more excited, and he got more and more excited about it too.
And it became our thing instead of just my patch, and it really became like this is what we’re doing and this is our vision for our family. And that didn’t take a lot of coaxing. And we are Millennials, Cliff and I, so we’re probably 20 or 30 years younger than Mike and Amy. And so for our generation his guy friends don’t razz him about it, I mean, they think it’s very cool. Yeah, this is like the trendy way, people our age are looking for something like this and desiring that and it piques people’s interest. Anybody we talked to about it they’re very intrigued.
Brett: I’m glad you brought that up because, Leah, when these big developers went out there and did their research, they found that the Millennials are the largest American buying group in the country right now. And not so interested in having a golf course, they want more sustainability, they want the farm-to-table lifestyle, they want the social lifestyle. You’re a Millennial, how much do you agree with that?
Leah: Oh, absolutely, that’s 100% true. It’s a thing for Millennials, that kind of mindset, that way of living, having significance and relationship within your community is a high value for people our age, wanting to raise kids in a community is a high value. So absolutely. This is definitely a thing.
Brett: It is. They started that with their initial intent, these developers, and then they what they realized is wait a minute, we’re getting multi-generational people interested in our concept. Now you have retirees, Baby Boomers, Millenials, first-time homebuyers, there’s a lot of people who are adapting and impressed with this whole concept.
Leah: Yes, and that’s another beautiful thing about our community we live next door to Mike and Amy who are retired. And then a couple doors down there’s another couple who’s about to move in, who’s retired. But then next door we have a couple our age with two young kids. And then we have a couple doors down who have teenagers, so still have kids at home, but older kids. So we have just a wide range of ages, which I think is great for our kids to be exposed to. And people from different backgrounds.
So another thing we kind of thought … I don’t know, we kind of pictured a bunch of old hippies moving into this community when we first heard about it. We’re like, “Are these people going to be like us and like-minded?” And we just pictured a bunch of hippies moving in. But that, I don’t know, that’s not the case, there’s just such diversity in the groups of people who live here.
Brett: There is, 100% accurate. So is it fair to say that you came from a conventional cookie-cutter subdivision prior to Aberlin Springs?
Leah: I did, yep, that’s how I grew up.
Brett: So here’s what I want people to hear, because most people nowadays are familiar with the conventional cookie-cutter subdivisions, so they’re introduced to the Agrihood lifestyle, they hear about it, they learn about it. And if they make that transition to an Agrihood they have a whole different experience of where they moved out of. What’s been the biggest difference for you between where you were and where you are? Now I know you said lifestyle, but if you break it down like the biggest amenities that you like, that you cannot or would not want to live without.
Leah: Oh, that’s a great question. It would have to be the sense of community that exists here. I mean, I know by name every single person that lives in Aberlin Springs. Now there’s only 21 homes so far, and it’s growing. But to know name and face and the names of their children, and even the names of their dogs, of everyone who lives here and lives around me, is something I’ve never experienced before. And I’ve grown up in many different neighborhoods and have never had relationships with my neighbors. For example, just the other night we were going to have … we did have a … we called it kids night out at Aberlin Springs, where every kid in the community, there’s 19 total, we invited to our house, we had pizza, and then we had a nerf gun war in the back of our yard, all the boys brought their nerf guns and we had sidewalk chalk and just a bunch of outdoor activities.
And then we had a fire pit in the back, and then after that the kids watched a movie down in the basement, and then some of them spent the night. And so we thought, “Well, maybe some people will come and maybe not.” But I think almost every neighbor showed up, their kids came, there was a party in our backyard, people connected and bonded and had conversations and trusted us enough to leave their kids over to spend the night. And it was just this wonderful celebration and wonderful evening with neighbors. And I’ve never in all the places I’ve lived have experienced that kind of community before with the people you actually live with.
Brett: Isn’t that cool?
Leah: So we lived here … Yeah, we’ve lived here six months and, I mean, I know my neighbors far better than places I’ve lived 5, 10 years before.
Brett: And do you think that farm-to-table aspect is what’s bringing people together like this?
Leah: I do. It does create a sense of connection that you don’t have when you live in a typical subdivision. And it sort of binds the community, and also we have similar goals and we’re like-minded in our values which also creates a deeper connection.
Brett: I just got off the phone with Carey Gillam she’s the author of the hugely popular book called Whitewash. There’s three documentaries, I suggest and encourage everybody to watch. Monsanto Papers which Carey was featured in, then you have the Devil We Know which is about the scandal with DuPont and Teflon, right? And then you have Sustainable which we just watched I think three times in the last ten days, which is another great documentary, and I believe I know for sure Sustainable is on Netflix. If you just Google the other two I gave you, the Devil We Know and then the other one is Monsanto Papers.
I hope everybody listening now will take the time to watch those documentaries, and then the people who are in Agrihoods around the country, in the world right now, are going to appreciate what about to say – is that there’s so much controversy surrounding the Roundup and the pesticides and herbicides, and all this stuff, all the crap that they’re putting into food to mass produce it. I hope you guys know living in that farm-to-table community what a great resource you have at your hands to be able to go to the farm, know where your food is coming from, and provide your family healthy, fresh food. And on top of that give children a lifelong learning lesson of how food is supposed to be grown and consumed.
Leah: Yeah, well, we take it for granted, the access that we have to what’s raised here at the farm from meat to eggs to produce. It is such a gift to be able to have that. And the impact is going to be lifelong for us and our children.
Brett: It is, and Leslie has so many great plans as far as social events and the things she does. The way she brings that, I think you guys have something called happy hour that takes place in every … Is it every Friday?
Leah: Yeah, first Friday of the month we have a happy hour gathering at the Chalet.
Brett: How cool is that? I mean, people just kind of get together and chat and she discusses the plans, future plans of what’s happening, the events, and she has that big band come in from …We Banjo Three? You weren’t there for that, were you? No, you’ve only been there …
Leah: A couple of years ago we went to the concert.
Brett: Oh, you did?
Leah: We did, yeah, we saw them play. They played them in the courtyard of the chalet. They set up a big tent and brought them in and had it catered. It was a lovely event.
Brett: Great, great event. So are you working at home? Are you a work at home mom?
Leah: I am, yep.
Brett: What do you do from the house?
Leah: I am a National Sales Director with Mary Kay, going on 13 years now.
Brett: Congratulations. And people can find you how? If they want to get a hold of you to learn more about not only Mary Kay but the whole lifestyle experience there at Aberlin Springs, can they follow you or find you in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram?
Leah: Yes, Instagram. Instagram @leahlauchlain.
Brett: Spell it.
Leah: I post often about life in the agri community. I can spell that if you need me to.
Brett: Yeah, spell it, go ahead.
Leah: So L-E-A-H, and then L-A-U-C-H-L-A-I-N.
Brett: Leah Lauchlain.
Brett: That’s Instagram or Facebook?
Leah: That’s Instagram.
Brett: And then as we wrap this up, Leah, what would you want to leave the people listening now to help them become more aware of this amazing lifestyle that’s out there, the Agrihood, the farm-to-table lifestyle, the Agri-Communities, not only Aberlin Springs because not everybody lives in Ohio, right? Because this is going to be broadcast all over the world, it’s heard on a global level. So what would you share with people just learning and hearing about this for the first time.
Leah: Yeah, that’s a great question. Advice I often give people is to make the investment, both time, money, resources into knowing where their food comes from and being willing to, if it requires pay a higher price for quality food and local food. And the biggest reason I hear from people not wanting to do that is just the cost or they don’t know where to get it or they’re not sure where it’s available. And my response back is often that you’re going to pay a price at some point for not being intentional about your health. You’ll either pay it on the front end where you’re invested in higher quality foods and investing your time and resources into finding where they’re available. So you’ll either invest it there, or unfortunately sometimes invest it on the backend just due to poor health. And that has a high cost to quality of living and longevity.
Brett: It does.
Leah: And so invest it on the frontend.
Brett: It is a lot less expensive when you start to do the numbers.
Brett: So the people who are listening that’s great health wise. People who want to know more about the Agrihood lifestyle or they’re considering it, as we wrap it up here in the last couple seconds, what can you lead them with as far as getting them involved to do more research and learn about this whole farm-to-table lifestyle?
Leah: Yeah, even if don’t have one close to them you might be surprised what’s available to you with just local farms and farmers markets. Even our Agri-community we have a CSA, and we have lots of people in the community who don’t live here but are still plugged into our CSA, so our Community Supported Agriculture, so they’re still coming to the farm every week from the community and having access to our food. And so maybe if you can’t live in an Agri-Community right now they’re probably still is a local farm or local options to get plugged into and get your food from.
Brett: On a scale of one to ten, living in an Agrihood for you is what? Ten being the best.
Leah: Oh, yeah, it’s a ten, yeah, it’s a ten.
Brett: Ten plus.
Leah: Yes, absolutely. We feel very blessed.
Brett: So you’re highly encouraging people to go out there, research the Agrihood lifestyle. There’s a great website, have you heard of it, it’s called Agrihoodliving.com? That’s a selfless plug I just gave.
Leah: I just looked at that the other day, it’s a great website.
Brett: We’re having a great time creating it, because just like you we have a passion for something, and we have this desire to share this concept with the world, because it is such a great idea. And you guys are very fortunate to be living in one of the best we have seen in the entire country. So thank you for your time, Leah. Tell Cliff we said hello and everybody at Aberlin Springs. We are looking forward to seeing you guys. We’re going to probably roll through there again in the early part of the Fall, and will definitely stop in and say hello to everybody.
Leah: That would be wonderful. All right, well, thank you, Brett. Thanks for your time.
Brett: You’re welcome. Thank you for your time, have a great day.
Leah: You as well.
Brett: Okay, bye-bye.
Disclaimer: Agrihood Radio transcripts are prepared by a transcription service. Refer to full audio for exact wording.