WHERE WE GOT OUR NAME
Leigh'Ann is lucky enough to be the grand-daughter of Billie Rea Ebersole. Billie taught first grade for more than 30 years in Grapevine, TX. She is the grand-daughter of farmers. She was raised to be hard working and self-sufficient and she became a woman most known for her generosity and loving spirit.
Jordan is the proud grand-daughter of Jean Daniel. Jean is the daughter of grocery store owners. She was raised to be humble and dedicated. She built a career as a manager at Albertsons in Lubbock, TX, where she worked for several decades. She was happily involved in the lives of her large extended family until she passed in 2021.
These women taught us to be independent and generous. Kind and hard working. Dedicated and humble. We strive to honor them in our daily lives. This farm is for you,
Billie & Jean
WHO WE ARE
She is the owner and farmer at billie & jean's. You can find her planting, harvesting, processing, marketing, and selling! Stop by the farmers' markets to talk to Leigh'Ann about baking, yoga, tennis, or gardening!
She is the partner at billie & jean's. You can find her building, flipping beds, growing microgreens, and assisting with all sorts of projects! Stop by the farmers' markets to talk to Jordan about hiking, theatre, cooking, or roller derby!
HOW WE STARTED
Hi! I'm Leigh'Ann. I'm the farmer behind billie & jean's.
I began working in theatre when I was 16 and steadfastly pursued a stage management career for more than a decade. I went to Texas Christian University to get my BFA in Theatre Production & Design. Staying in Fort Worth after graduation, I worked at Casa Manana, Circle Theatre, Jubilee Theatre, and Dallas Theater Center. I went to graduate school at the University of Iowa to get my MFA in Theatre Stage Management and this is where the story turns. I was studying on a fellowship and my income was limited to a couple hundred dollars per week. I found myself struggling to afford fresh veggies.
At my local farmers' market in Iowa City, IA there was a stand that I particularly loved. The farmers were friendly and knowledgable and the produce was gorgeous. One week they posted a sign that they needed volunteers. I wanted to be friends with these folks so I inquired. They wanted someone to work at their market table on Saturday mornings in exchange for one family-sized box of vegetables every week. Aha! I took on the market task and drove out to the farm on my free days to help there, too - for more veggies of course!
One year later I was planting my own pallet garden on the balcony of my apartment with compost donated from our new farmer friends. This was my first realization that growing my own food was something I could achieve, even with my mad theatre schedule.
Fast forward a couple years. I finished grad school and started working all over the world, mostly based in New York City. I stage managed world premiers, including The Lightning Thief: the Percy Jackson Musical, and toured internationally with Trisha Brown Dance Company. Eventually, I became the staff stage manager at Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. Once I was settled there I knew I had to grow my own food again. I applied for the community P-Patch program and was given a 100 sqft garden plot on the roof of the parking garage across the street from the ballet.
I became obsessed with how I could best use that small plot. I started watching YouTube, listening to podcasts, and reading books about all kinds of topics: companion planting, square foot gardening, rain water collecting, composting, chicken raising, no till farming, succession planting...I told you I was obsessed! My first season I planted everything from starts and was thrilled with how much produce I was able to grow. I decided to go even bigger the next year. I rented a house with a huge yard and deck so I could expand my garden to more areas. I ordered seeds and set up a seed-starting station in my garage.
And COVID hit. The arts industry collapsed. Suddenly I had no income in one of the most expensive cities in America. But I had my seeds. I did the only thing I knew how to do.
I committed myself to feeding all the laid-off artists I could. Over the next five months I gave away more than sixty bags of produce to actors, designers, dancers, and stage managers who were facing food insecurity in a way I found all too familiar.
My wife finally found employment near our family in Austin, TX so we moved back home. With no stage management work available for at least another year I knew it was time to make the leap I'd been dreaming about for years. We bought a house on a near quarter acre in Kyle, TX and I started planting!
billie & jean's is a backyard (and front yard!) farm that I run mostly by myself. I learned from YouTube and books and I make mistakes all the time. Switching careers in my mid-30s amidst a pandemic isn't easy, but I'm incredibly proud of the work I'm doing, the community I'm serving, and the food I'm growing.
I have lived all over the world and found that in every area and every language, communities are built around food. I hope you'll be a part of the billie & jean's community.