There might have been a time when Willie Nelson’s heroes were always cowboys, but these days, he’s looking up to farmers.
The legendary country singer and his wife, Annie, have asked two Texas farmers, Tina and Orion Weldon, to transform their 500-acre property, Luck Ranch, into a regenerative farm.
The Weldons have a 150-acre farm of their own, which they started in 2015 after leaving careers in academia. They focus on using regenerative methods on their large organic farm in the hope that it will be a model for the future of large-scale agriculture. They dreamed that others would take note, but they obviously never imagined it would attract Nelson’s attention.
In April, Annie approached the Weldons at a farmers market in Spicewood, Texas, to ask if they would transform their property. The Nelsons said they were looking for the right people to help them do something meaningful with their land. They chose the Weldons, given their focus on sustainably farming a large piece of land.
“It’s hard to wrap your heart around the complexity of emotion of gratitude and fulfillment and honor all at the same time,” says Orion Weldon. “It’s such an opportunity to fulfill your own dreams and aspirations, but then to be able to create something for someone else especially who cares so much as Willie does is incredibly gratifying.”
The couple began the initial steps to transform Luck Ranch in May. They’ve started by introducing pigs to the pasture to help its soil with their nutrient-dense manure. They’ve also started sprinkling native plant seed mix. The Weldons are also planning to later add chickens and light grazers such as sheep and cattle. They say that Willie and his family have been involved in all of the process, from feeding and rotating the pigs, to sowing and spreading seeds. Once the farm is operational, it will give the Weldon’s an additional venue to produce their pork, chicken and eggs.
In addition to using the land for agriculture, the Weldons hope that the Luck Ranch will be a facility to teach farmers regenerative methods on an industrial scale.
Before the Nelsons reached out, the Weldons had goals to expand the accessibility of regenerative agriculture, but their plans have been fast-tracked thanks to Nelson’s star power and resources.
“[The Nelson’s] microphone to the world is so much larger than anything we could have imagined having at this stage of our journey,” Tina Weldon says. “For them to give us that gift to really launch this message nationally is incredible.”