At Rising Fawn Gardens, we are stewards of nature who are devoted to protecting the land, farming sustainably, and building an enduring community that fosters education and wellness.

Rising Fawn is a small community in Dade County, GA located in the valley below scenic Lookout Mountain. It is conveniently located just 30 minutes from downtown Chattanooga Tennessee, and 30 minutes from Fort Payne, Alabama.

About Us

We are blessed to be stewards of this beautiful piece of God’s green earth. Through the years, we have poured our hearts and our passions into Rising Fawn Gardens. As our family has multiplied, so have the memories we have created as we have worked together to care for this land. We’ve uncovered roads, cleared trails, built a formal trail system, and created fields for growing. In 2013, a bridge over Lookout Creek was built bringing to a close the days of crossing the creek in the truck. The bridge was truly a bridge allowing us to not only access the farm on any given day, but also created the possibility of opening the farm to a larger community. The intensive bridge-building project paved the way for the building of the Yoga House in 2016. During this time of building basic infrastructure, we learned so much about ourselves and the land. It was a time of complementary learning and mutual caretaking. We now host public programming including retreats, workshops, and open farm days.
In recent years and through all of the projects, we found our niche in growing medicinal plants, beginning with turmeric and ginger. After several years of practice in growing these tropical plants in a subtropical climate, a successful process was developed. As our interest in plants as medicine grew, so did the desire to learn and share more. A plan for a Medicinal Garden was begun. A design on paper evolved over time followed by a careful selection of plants offering healing and support to each system in the body. In 2019, the Medicinal Garden came to life as each plant started from seed or purchased from a local source, or transplanted from our own wooded areas, was gently put in the cultivated soil. Within these borders is a rich ecosystem of plants to nourish not only the human body, but each native pollinator as well. This latest garden addition rounds out our fields of grains, orchards of apples and blueberries, turmeric, ginger, and seasonal vegetables.

Meet the Rising Fawn Gardens Team

Karen LaRussa Persinger


Karen serves the land as owner and oversees the daily business operations of the farm as well as the Yoga House rentals and events. She is also spearheading the creation of turmeric-infused product collections set to launch in 2020.

Karen completed the Essentials of Herbalism Study with the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine in 2016. She’s also taken several Mindful School courses including Mindfulness Fundamentals and Mindful Educator Essentials. She is a certified yoga instructor and former school teacher. Her passion and talent for teaching makes sharing plant knowledge and nature-based wellness come naturally. To her, Rising Fawn Gardens is an invaluable gift to her family and the community. She spends her days making sure it is taken care of so it can be enjoyed by generations to come.

“Smile, breathe and go slowly” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Steve Persinger


Steve serves as owner and as chief yardman. He oversees planting and preserving the Medicinal Garden and fields, clearing and maintaining the trail system on the property and managing the game and wildlife habitats.

Steve’s lifelong experience being in and appreciating the great outdoors has shaped his desire to be a steward of the land and the abundant resources associated with it. He’s spent a vast amount of time learning from Mother Nature firsthand. His gardening experience comes from decades of trial and error in the dirt. Rising Fawn Gardens represents his passion for life. He is forever grateful for the daily opportunity to explore the property, commune with nature and reflect on life.

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir

Beth Grilley


In 2019, Beth became our first Gardens Manager. She brought her experience and love of working with and learning from the herbs as they grow from tiny seeds to the fruition of sipping a cup of garden fresh, nourishing herbal tisane.  Along with this and her willingness to jump in headlong with us, the Medicinal Garden was created. 

She first carefully honed the garden plan on paper, then grew or gathered the plants, and finally planted them in the soil she intentionally prepared for them.  Along with growing, tending and harvesting the plants in the Medicinal Garden, production beds, and the ginger and turmeric plants in the hoop house, she also leads educational garden tours and seasonal herbal workshops. 

After spending a season reconnecting with family and the wilderness she grew up loving, Beth has moved back to our area and has joyously resumed her role as our gardens manager.  We are oh so happy to have her “can do” attitude and bright spirit back at Rising Fawn Gardens and look forward to many more seasons together.

From Beth,  “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” – Rumi

Ali Banks


Ali Banks is our Apothecary Manager. Her role as an RFG team member is vital in bringing our customers the vibrant products we have come to enjoy. Her days are filled with plant medicine from the harvesting of tender herbs to the careful monitoring of their drying and proper storage. She has a knack and a nose for developing and preparing fragrant and healthy herbal tea blends and is the queen of pristine recordkeeping.

When she is not with us at Rising Fawn Gardens, you will find Ali busy as co-founder of Forest Folk Fungi, a medicinal mushroom apothecary. She has studied plant medicine since 2014, including a year-long course with the Gaia School of Healing and Earth Education, and offers private herbal consultations. She enjoys helping others explore how plants and fungi can support our wholeness.

From Ali: “I feel deeply grateful to have the privilege of spending time with the land and people at Rising Fawn Gardens. The spirit of this place is palpable—ancient, gentle, and present. It is a gift to interact with the wise green beings who live here and the good folks who tend them, know their names, know their seasons, and know their medicine.”

Amanda Verkest

Amanda G. Verkest


Amanda began working at RFG in early 2021 as a seasonal garden assistant. She brought a love for plants and learning to the fold, as well as a knowledge base on food science, quality control, and sustainability. She began helping with administrative tasks and retreat operations and before long, we knew we needed her as a permanent member of our team! Amanda’s thoughtful insights into managing operations and her communication skills are very appreciated as an important piece of the work at RFG.


Amanda holds a B.Sc. in nutrition and food science with a minor in chemistry and an M.Sc. in global studies and international relations. She previously worked in food and beverage microbiology and currently offers consulting services for international food regulation, sustainability, and international education. Amanda is a student of holistic herbalism at the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine to continue her pursuit of becoming a clinical herbalist and plant medicine worker. 


From Amanda: RFG is an ethereal space that continually fills my spirit with joy, curiosity, and serenity. “Medicine is a way of life, an object, or ceremony having power or control over influences that may affect a person, and a path toward restoring health.”  -Cherokee Elder

Jade McCarthy


Jade obtained a B.S. in Environmental Science with a focus on geospatial sciences from UTC. After becoming a certified Master Gardener she is now continuing her education focusing on herbalism, while furthering her experience with garden cultivation and land management. Jade enjoys kayaking with her husband, hiking with her pups, and growing and preserving veggies and herbs.


From Jade: “To be connected with this land that is so vibrant and full of life is incredibly fulfilling. It is truly an amazing space to learn and grow.”


“That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.”

Aldo Leopold