Meet the No Name Homestead

In Red Bank, two young families are working on a very old idea.

Meet the No Name Homestead
Two families aim to turn a nine-acre parcel of land in Red Bank into a functioning homestead.

In Red Bank, two young families are working on a very old idea.

"A carbon-sequestering plot right in the city center."

Photos and words by Julie Ellison

As travel nurses working in Everett, Washington, in 2020, Amy Dunham and Steven McKinney were some of the first people to experience the Covid-19 pandemic as frontline healthcare professionals. After long shifts tending to sick patients in the ER of a mid-size city near Seattle, the couple would return to their temporary home on Whidbey Island, a regenerative agriculture farm where Amy's brother shears sheep and raises livestock in a healthy and humane way.

Amy Dunham, a trauma ICU nurse, and Steven McKinney, a nurse practitioner, both work for Erlanger Health System.

Growing their own food, living closer to nature, and being more self-reliant became appealing for the couple, who have a 4-year-old daughter named Sage. They got inspired to return to their home base in Chattanooga, Tennessee, buy a piece of land, and build a homestead. It just so happened that their good friends Chris Winters and Kate Hanes shared a similar vision for their lives.

Kate Hanes is the stewardship coordinator for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. Chris Winters is an arborist in Chattanooga.

The couples joined forces to find and purchase two neighboring parcels of land, with a promise to the seller that they would return the land to its former glory as a farming property. The owner didn't have any heirs, and he liked the idea of his family's land being used to grow things instead of being turned into a development.

Thus, the homestead project was started. The foursome (plus Sage) aim to preserve this property by developing a land management plan, encouraging wildlife habitat and building garden beds, among other things. Their first step for the management plan is figuring out what their priorities are and how they want to use the land.

An overview map of the Red Bank homestead.

They want to prioritize natural beauty, wildlife habitats, diversity and healthy soil while also being able to raise animals and grow food. Their goals are lofty but doable.

"A carbon-sequestering plot right in the city center," Steven says.

Picture this: A robust composting program that turns organic waste into living soil for garden beds, a one-acre orchard, mushroom pits, forested areas with open space at ground level for chickens and wild turkeys to pick their way through. Turmeric, ginger and paw paws growing all over, a rainwater collection system, stacks of bee boxes, deer sauntering through to munch on blackberries and goats grazing across the property.

The pleasant surprise of finding wild ginger growing in the forest.

Initially, they aim to grow food for their own families, but in the future, they hope to be able to harvest enough to share with the community. In order to make all this a reality, they have applied for technical and financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), run by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This grant helps farmers, ranchers and forest landowners incorporate conservation goals into their management practices. As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NRCS sent biologist Richard Underwood to the site in early November to assess the property and discuss a strategy to achieve their goals of improving habitat, growing food and fostering native plants.

This is not a year-long commitment that ends after a neat little 12 months. This is a lifetime goal to turn nine acres in the heart of Red Bank into a diverse, lively, productive parcel of land. For the time being, they're calling it No Name Homestead ( In Steven's own words: "We haven't come up with a name just yet. It's going to be part of the journey."

**This is the first part of a series about the Red Bank homestead project, where we will share stories about this particular piece of land and how the families are progressing in their goals to conserve nature and grow food on their property.

Photos and words by Julie Ellison. Visit

Story ideas? Interested in sponsorship opportunities + supporting our work? Feedback or questions? Email David Cook at This story is 100% human generated; no AI chatbot was used in the creation of this content.

Food as a Verb thanks our sustaining partners for their generous support.

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