Buddie Brooks and Leslie Petri of Smiling Dog Farm

Leslie Petri and her husband, Buddie Brooks, never considered themselves unhealthy or overweight, but when a doctor called Brooks “obese” six years ago, it was time for an overhaul. Together, they changed their diets, lost more than 70 pounds, and threw away their prescription medications.

“We just got sick of tired of feeling sick and tired,” says Brooks.

But the life transformations didn’t stop there.

Petri, a life-long gardener and retired attorney, spent a year working on the Foundation Farm in Arkansas, learning the ins and outs of production organic farming. Last fall, the duo bought a 35-acre spread in McDonald County, dubbed it “Smiling Dog Farm,” and made a home for themselves, their teenage daughter, two cats, six dogs, and thirty-six free-range laying hens.

This market season, they’ll offer snap peas, Copenhagen market cabbage, four types of lettuces, three types of kale, chard, broccoli, shogoin turnips, beets, red and yellow onions, potatoes, and more. Eventually, their new fruit orchard promises to deliver apples, pears, peaches, cherries, grapes, and juneberries, which Petri likens to a cross between blueberries and vanilla. Everything on the farm is raised organically.

Petri and Brooks couldn’t be happier. They’re doing what they love and they believe in the work.

“I just want people to have good food,” says Petri.