Above photo, the Groves children L to R: Elias (1), Elsie (8), Alden (3), Harriet (5), and Ivar (10). Inset, Alden with his daddy's book
September 2021 – It was a cool morning in southern Minnesota. Rory Groves and Ivar, his 10-year-old son, headed out early with all the tools they would need.
“We were getting pigs,” Groves said. “We wanted to be sure we had proper fencing, because, well, you know pigs – they’re stubborn. They’ll root their way out of just about anything.”
The tedious task began – hammer posts into the ground, hang wire panels. Finish one section. Repeat. Hammer. Hang. As time passed, Ivar began asking his dad questions, but not about pigs. About things far beyond their pigpen. Questions about the economy. World affairs. COVID-19. Riots in the streets.
“We had the riots not far from home,” Groves said, “because that was right up here in Minneapolis.” Their farm is hardly an hour away.
“It was a great conversation,” Groves recalls. “I was able to share with him concerns I had! It wasn’t rushed. It wasn’t forced. It wasn’t too scary for him because I had time to talk through how we’re going to be OK, and this is what the Lord’s plan is.”
Building a fence with Ivar or loading hay and milking the goats with 8-year-old Elsie, Groves and his wife Becca are still confident about their 2012 decision. It was right to leave behind suburban Minneapolis to carve out a sustainable family economy and invest more in their children’s lives.
“While we’re milking the goats and all that kind of stuff, there are so many opportunities to disciple our kids,” Groves told AFA Journal in this exclusive interview.
AFA Journal: Tell us about the transition from city to country.
Rory Groves: When we first moved, I planned to manage my computer business and work remotely. But even though I worked from home, my office was shut away from the family. That model just wasn’t working for me because I wanted to be doing something with them.
AFAJ: What was Becca’s response to this drastic move?
RG: She’s really committed to me as a husband and to family. Basically, she said, “You only get one pass at this life. And what are we doing if we’re not spending life together?”
AFAJ: What do you mean by family economy?
RG: It’s an economy in which the family works together to provide for the things they need. In the Bible, the basic economic unit of society is the family. It’s not the individual, not a corporation, not the government.
When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them the mandate to go forth and subdue the earth. He gave it to them as a family unit.
AFAJ: What advantages are there to a family economy?
RG: There’s education. We decided to homeschool our children. There’s worship. We disciple our kids day and night as we work together in the family business. There’s recreation together. There are all of the robust self-sufficient, resilient elements a family thrives on. That’s the model God ordains in the Bible.
AFAJ: You use the word resilient often; how do you build a resilient family?
RG: On your knees, start on your knees. God has a plan for families. So it starts there. A resilient family is one that can adapt, that can handle adversity and bounce back from stresses that are inevitable in life.
If Dad gets a pink slip at work, the resilient family isn’t completely crushed. [Ideally] they have multiple streams of income from other ventures the family is involved in. Start something new on weekends or evenings.
AFAJ: What about a family who simply can’t make the choice you’ve made?
RG: I guess … a lot of times what people “can’t” do and what they “can” do is a matter of priorities, or they’re just doing it the way they were taught to do it.
I can’t give you a one-size-fits-all approach, but there’s so much wisdom in the Bible and in prayer. We continually rely on that. I hope my book gives families some light on the possibilities that we can thrive and be much happier being closer to our family.
AFAJ: How do you advocate for the family economy?
RG: We love to use our farm to teach people and share what we’re learning. We’ve done farm camps, like a day camp for kids to come and learn some lessons on the farm. We’ve had instructors teach about beekeeping and workshops on tree tapping and making maple syrup.
We also have a quarterly newsletter about things we’re learning, reflections on parenting, homeschooling, and other things going on in the culture.
AFAJ: What prompted the research that turned into your book, Durable Trades? (See review here.)
RG: I wasn’t trying to write a book. I just wanted to answer some questions for my own family. In my computer tech career, the pace of constant change was exciting to me at first. But after 20 years, it became more of a curse. I wanted to build something that would last.
Solomon says, “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22, NKJV).
That started me thinking, I’m just going to do a little bit of research. What could I build that will last? And how can the family do it together?
AFAJ: What first grabbed your attention in the research process?
RG: I started getting exposed to [economic] concepts, and they made compelling points about the way we live today. We have material abundance like the world has never seen before.
At the same time, I was seeing how our families are decimated. We don’t have an intergenerational continuity of faith that was once common. We have between 60% and 80% of our children leaving the faith their parents raised them in. That’s completely unprecedented in the history of the Christian West.
It was illuminating to me that our culture is mired deep in a mindset that has done great harm to the family.
AFAJ: Looking at our nation today, what alarms you most
RG: There’s a deep sorrow. People have rejected God. I cite these verses from Job in the opening to the book: “Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What they trust in is fragile; what they rely on is a spider’s web” (Job 8:13-14, NIV).
I think all of the fierce cultural battles being waged right now all emanate from that one principle – we have forgotten God.
If America goes the way all other cultures have gone, our complex society will simplify and revert to the historical mean. To that end, yes, I think people should know how to grow their own food, how to employ a wide number of skills and trades – how to be resilient.
I can’t control the culture, but I will continue to vote and to speak up. I will continue to bring a godly culture into our home.
The Groves family is not going to chase after the things the world has. We’re going to build a new family economy.
Meet the amazing Groves family at thegrovestead.com for photos, videos, and a look at their newsletter.