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Episode #11 – Mike & Amy Schneider from the Agri-Communtity of Aberlin Springs, share their story of how they discovered a gem of a property in Southern Ohio, and how Mike wasn’t a fan at first.
On this episode of Agrihood Radio we’re visiting with residents of the Agri-Community Aberlin Springs, Mike & Amy Schneider.
The Schneider’s are one of the very first residents to live in this one of kind Agrihood located in Morrow, Ohio.
Mike and Amy share their unique story of how they stumbled upon what they say is the best neighborhood they have ever lived in.
But initially it wasn’t a well received idea by Mike. He shares his reluctancy and the turning point that completely changed his mind.
He tells us the story about how when him and Amy went to visit Aberlin Springs, he had very low expectations. But when Barbara Aberlin showed him & Amy around the property, he remembers thinking how gorgeous the architecture of the Swiss Chalet was. He also says as he was standing out in the courtyard doing a 360 view, looking at the pasture, the pond, the woods, and this is when he felt a deep sense of serenity and the peacefulness of the entire community.
He says that’s point he was “hooked.”
Land has always been important to Mike. And the way Aberlin Springs offers an abundance of wooded homesites with a sense of nature and privacy, this was a main feature that began checking all the boxes for him.
Mike and Amy did a walk of the property during their initial visit and the more they saw, the more excited they became, they both knew this was going to be the place they would call home. In fact, that afternoon before they left Mike told Amy “we’re putting a $1,000.00 down to hold a lot.”
Enjoy an inside perspective of one of America’s best Agri-Communities we have visited!
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Brett: Amy and Mike how are you?
Amy and Mike: Fine thank you.
Brett: I love the fact you’re both are on the call right now on speakerphone. This is so cool. We talked to Temple, your neighbor, Temple Grace and she shared with us her story about how she found Aberlin Springs. And then the developer Leslie Ratliff gave my wife and I a list of people who actually live there who wanted to share their experiences of living in this awesome community. So I am reaching out to you. Your story is a little unique because we had a chance to catch up to the other day for a few minutes. And Mike you were saying you were not completely on board with the idea of living there, so tell us about that? How did that all come about?
Mike: OK, well I retired I guess about 6 years ago. We had some goals of a more simplified life after 34 years of the corporate world and transferring around. We wanted to settle down here in the Cincinnati area. We wanted to be close to our church in Lebanon which is close by. Amy has a horse, we wanted to be close by the stables where she goes. We were searching probably for about 4 or 5 years.
Amy: One of the goals was to get a little closer to our family down in Cincinnati.
Mike: So we knew we wanted to be in the north eastern part of the city. We love where we lived but it was a larger home, which we didn’t need that larger home anymore. And we were sort of torn around what type of neighborhood, community, land that we wanted. It ranged from land and maybe having our own farm, so that was always Amy’s dream and I always enjoy looking out there. And then also as I was retiring too, I was looking at taking up golf. So the golfing community sort of appealed to me as well. Amy started to do some research on Agri-Communities. Maybe I should let you fill in the blanks from here.
Amy: I was just following a couple that was in Georgia and Virginia and I was frustrated thinking why isn’t this in Ohio yet?
Brett: Well let me stop you there, so you learned about Serenbe down in Georgia?
Brett: We have also been to three in Virginia. What was the one in Virginia?
Brett: We’ve been there too, so cool go ahead.
Amy: OK so I just followed it online thinking it was a really unique concept and I wish we had one in Ohio, so I kept looking for one in Ohio. And none were showing up on the internet. And then one night at church I was sitting with Barbara Aberlin and she happened to mention that her daughter Leslie Ratliff, the builder and was planning to develop Barbara’s property into an Agri-Community. I thought this was just too cool.
Brett: I just got goose bumps on both arms, and both legs, up my back and down my neck. I love that.
Amy: It was one of those kinds of things, yeah. Anyway. I dragged mike out here the next day. The concept of me describing it to him didn’t appeal to him that much, but when he came up that driveway I thought this was it.
Mike: I remember it was a Sunday after church, and Barbara Aberlin said why don’t you just come and just check the land and just look around? And I think it was a dreary day. It was in winter, which was January, February 3 years ago. And to appease my wife I reluctantly said OK let’s go. It was a gloomy winter Sunday afternoon and I didn’t have anything else going on.
Brett: You weren’t golfing.
Mike: No I wasn’t golfing, that’s for sure. Then anyway, I came up here with very low expectations. And Barbara showed us around the main home, which is now the community center. It was just gorgeous, the architecture was outstanding. I just remember standing out in the courtyard area and you just sort of do a 360 and looking at the pasture, the pond, the wood just the serenity and the peaceful feeling that I had. I was hooked. Land has always been important to me. And they have some woods in nature in our backyard and privacy. I was just checking all the boxes for me. We walked around with Barbara and the more I walked around the more excited I got. In fact, as we left that afternoon going back to our house, I said to Amy let’s put a $1000.00 down to hold a lot.
Amy: When he turns around, he really turns around.
Mike: I’m the type of guy when I make a decision then let’s go.
Brett: You know what, having been at that property, I’m feeling, not only listening & hearing you but I’m feeling your experience. And here’s the deal, you guys were there let’s call it a gloomy day at the beginning of winter. You’re looking at nothing but dirt. You have the Swiss Chalet or the original structures, Barbara’s house that was the 3 houses that were there originally. From that experience you’re able to recognize the vision that this place has. I got to say the same thing now, fast forward to us going there in October when the leaves are changing; you have orange, red, yellow leaves, you have the pumpkins all over the place, you have kids running around, you feel the crisp in the air; that experience is what actually came to life for you.
Mike: Yeah I’d say going beyond those original expectations, I was so excited, but it’s like a dream come true. A complete transformation I think.
Amy: Because there are some things you can investigate and plan for and some things that are just unknown when you’re at the start of something. But all the things that we couldn’t check out turned out to work out beautifully, such as the neighbors. We were one of the 1st, so you don’t know who else is going to move in. This place has attracted people who really like an old fashioned sense of community. You walk around and get the experience I guess in October; people are outside all the time, and kids are playing outside and coming up with unique ideas and interacting as a group. It’s fun, it’s a throw back to when we were kids, and our kids did not have this experience.
Mike: I might be a little different than other neighbors. I guess the Agri-Community or the sustainability part wasn’t really an important feature to me at 1st.
Amy: Well it was to me.
Mike: I know, I know. I’m just giving Brett the background here. We had a little bit of differential around what we really wanted. But once I came up and I saw it, that was like icing on the cake for me. And for me it was the land, the potential for the lots. Amy had the potential to build to her dream home which she had worked on for years. We finally got the opportunity to come close to the dream retirement house we wanted. And then we knew we want to have some community connection but I didn’t realize that it would have been this good. I think we’ve lived in about 9 or 10 neighborhoods and this clearly has been the most friendly, and supportive, and nurturing, I think community neighborhood we have been in.
Brett: And that’s a common thread you know, we have had seen so many Agrihood around the country. The common thread that got us interested 3 years ago when I saw the special on CBS Sunday Morning about Agrihoods. They featured Serenbe. I’m watching this program, Lena was back in the bedroom, I think she was asleep. She’d been up all night with Cash our boy. He was about one at the time. And I’m sitting there watching this segment, thinking I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, because just from that segment, I knew in my heart that this was something, an idea that we needed to explore more. So fast forward to this past summer we hit the road and we traveled around the country, and now as of today we have seen 21 of these properties. And every single property, there’s a love for the sense of community and the aspect of having fresh grown food accessible to you right there in your neighborhood. It separates itself from the rest by a landslide, by conventional cookie cutter, to subdivisions. So, that’s the concept that we’re drawn to. Obviously, we’re not living in one yet. And I go back to saying, we’re sensing this is what it’s all about, but to hear from people who are in the community and can share their perspective of how it feels to live there. It just solidifies everything that we’re feeling.
Amy: Mike mentioned that the farm grown food wasn’t as important. But our daughter and her family had developed allergies over the years. So we’ve made a concerted effort to eat local fresh and organic. And so to me, the fact that was right here was very important. I think Mike’s a convert now because of the eggs.
Mike: I’m just saying, at the beginning it was the icing on the cake for me.
Brett: For sure, and that’s why I had mentioned for everybody listening, you have to check out on Netflix the documentary called Sustainable. And then I think that’s going to get you thinking in this direction. It’s going to be so appealing to know that you’re living in a healthier way, and give you more of an appreciation that you have fresh food at your disposal right there. And Leslie, I can honestly say she’s in a league of her. Isn’t she super cool?
Amy: She is. we knew we loved the land and the concept and then we met Leslie after that. we knew immediately we would like to work with her. And after meeting everybody at Pendragon homes too, they’ve helped us through all along. Yes she’s a unique individual we really love her.
Mike: Her vision was very, I would say contagious and empowering. I’ve been in the corporate world for many years as well and I’ve worked on visions. A lot of times the vision would not come to reality or maybe only partial reality. But Leslie makes sure that her vision comes alive, and we love it today.
Brett: I know and we had Barbara, Leslie’s mother Barbara Aberlin, that’s when it all started. She was on one of the interviews just this last week and I love the story of how it all came together, so definitely check out the interview. So let me ask you, the events that Leslie has there, are they all kinds of events?
Amy: Oh yes. We have a monthly get together. There’s different things in each one. They call it a happy hour but it’s really just a gathering and there is food and drinks. We’ve had people come in to talk about their organic specialties, whether it’s wine or coffee or a meal that they can deliver. We’ve only had 3 so far but it’s going to continue on the 1st Friday of the month and that’s always fun. Lots of the neighbors plan activities. Our next door neighbor is planning great big kids get together for all the kids and including our grandson who doesn’t really live here, although he thinks he does. And she’s included everybody and she’s got 500 Nerf bullets ready to go, so it should be an exciting event.
Brett: What did you say, Amy? 500 what?
Amy: Nerf bullets for Nerf guns.
Brett: Oh my goodness that’s going to be a party.
Brett: I think Cash, our son has about 20. I can’t imagine 500 of those things; that’s pretty intense.
Amy: I think the mom’s want to join in if you want to know the truth.
Brett: Yeah, yeah I think I got the sense of that. So as we’re coming down your street, Leslie’s house is the 1st one on the right. So where is your house setting?
Amy: She is on lot one and we are on lot seven.
Mike: We’re almost right there in the middle of that the road, back on the right-hand side.
Brett: OK so you’re right next to the waterfall in the backyard?
Amy: We’re one house closer to Leslie, from that.
Brett: OK we saw it, it was beautiful. I mean every house on that street is absolutely gorgeous.
Mike: You know there are a couple of other events too Brett, when I think about; community event that the Leslie has as orchestrated. Every Fall there’s actually a Fall, I think it is called a Fall Fest.
Amy: We’ve been to a free concert.
Mike: That’s another one. The Fall Fest is on a Saturday afternoon and I think they had you know 200 to 300 people show up. There’s also a hayride, pumpkin carving and a bunch of kids activities and the opportunity just to tour around and see the farm and the land.
Amy: And a lot of vendors with products fit into this concept.
Mike: And then another that Amy and I are planning, when she mentioned family activities. My mother has a birthday coming June 1st. In the past, we’ve always gone to maybe a picnic shelter, at a local county park and this year we’re going to have it right here. Not at our house, we’ll have it at the chalet in the courtyard area, that families can rent out for a few hours. You got access to the pond, the outdoor kitchen, the pool, the chalet, the playground area. There’s fishing, boating, kayaking on the pond. We’ll probably have 30-40 people there, so we’re looking forward to that.
Brett: That’s awesome. You know Barbara told a story about the lady who lives there in the community and she had 22 of her family members come in to visit for Thanksgiving and obviously her house was in accommodating 22 people; so she put them up at the chalet. And that’s what separating Aberlin Springs from a lot of other properties, and we’ve seen a lot of properties guys. And that chalet really puts Aberlin Springs in a league of its own. That is super cool.
Amy: It is a unique building too.
Brett: I know.
Amy: It’s a great place to gather.
Brett: We had dinner there and when we walked in there you really felt like you were in Europe, in a different country because the way that Mr. Aberlin designed that place, it is spot on.
Amy: It’s got a lot of antique furniture and things that Barbara collected over the years. She was a dealer I believe in English antique for a while or European antiques and it shows her taste. It’s wonderful.
Brett: It really does. So before we wrap this up, what could you guys share, because you’ve been on both sides now. Mike, you were a little more hesitant about you know, the whole Agri-Community concept. Amy, you were more on board with it but now as you’ve been through the entire process of searching, finding, now living there, what could you share with people listening right now?
Amy: Well I would share that in hindsight we were looking at those golf communities for Mike or an empty-nester communities. I would miss living with people of all ages especially the kids. I didn’t realize how much I would miss that until I had it again. And I love the convenience of knowing that the food is right over there and that it’s clean, it’s healthy. I just feel like this is the way the community should be in terms of health conscious in taking care of each other and enjoying life.
Brett: Awesome, Mike?
Mike: The other thing, I would say, because I’m very, very visual. I would encourage people that you need to see it. I know that there’s website accessibility, you know you’ve seen 21 different properties. But if there’s one nearby, I highly encourage people to go visit and explore the possibilities. I heard the comments from a lot of my male friends that don’t understand, why am I looking around at farms?
Brett: Yeah, they’re saying hey Mike where is the golf course? You have to explain to them all over again right?
Mike: Oh yeah, they just don’t get it. And I would say, you have to just come here and look at it. And I’ve had several of them come up here, and once they see the land, they see where we are living and how we are living, then they get it. And they are like, this is unbelievable. So it is a mindset change probably for the average person. So I just encourage people to, whatever paradigm they might have to please visit and check it out and explore.
Amy: Well one of the common themes with all the neighbors, we’ve all had to experience with friends misunderstanding and thinking we’ve moved to a commune. That’s become a real source of entertainment, the stories we share about that. It’s like any other neighborhood except that we kick in an extra fee to be part of the typical C.S.A, the community support agriculture so that we get a share of the crop. It’s an added benefit that this particular neighborhood has jelled so well. And as you’re saying apparently others have jelled too.
Mike: Some of the guys think that I’m actually farming. You can get involved in farming activities, that’s the beauty of it but at the same time you don’t have to do a thing, just put in your money and enjoy the fruits.
Amy: I want to help gardening and Mike doesn’t want to.
Brett: That’s a perfect setting because you know Leslie offers that. I actually refer to it as hands-free farming, all the benefits of having a farm without the work.
Mike and Amy: Exactly.
Brett: Yeah, so we appreciate you guys. I mean the whole community there is so supportive and wants to share their experiences. We’ve talked to several neighbors there and not one has said anything different, other than they love living there. We appreciate your time.
Amy: Well, thank you for yours too.
Brett: Yeah for sure, we plan on coming back through that way. Our schedule takes us back that way usually in the Fall. So we want to come back and have a visit with you guys and see the new developments that have been taking place since our last visit, last Fall.
Mike: That’s wonderful. We would love to meet you personally Brett and we’ll definitely give you a tour of our house
Brett: Sounds good. We appreciate that. Thank you so much and tell everybody we said hello and have a great day.
Mike and Amy: thank you.
Brett: Thank you again bye bye.
Disclaimer: Agrihood Radio transcripts are prepared by a transcription service. Refer to full audio for exact wording.