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

Joseph Persinger


Joseph joined the RFG team officially in January of 2024 as Farm Manager. Joseph’s primary roles is general farm, building, and equipment maintenance, and working to enhance habitat for wildlife.

From a young age Joseph has had a passion for the outdoors. Whether it be hunting, fishing, cooking, or gardening, he has always been at home outside. He received a BS in Agricultural Communication from Auburn University, and this is where his passion for gardening, farming and land stewardship really blossomed. While in school Joseph worked under horticulturist and plant guru, Tia Gonzales, at the University’s Plant Science Research Center, where he gained many valuable skills that will help him in his role as farm manager. Joseph has a unique perspective as a team member because he has seen the evolution of RFG from raw land purchased in 2007, to the operation that it has become today. He has a deep understanding of the vision that Karen and Steve have for the land and plans to continue that vision as the next generation steward of this great natural resource.

Amanda Verkest

Delilah Miske


Delilah grew up in a small coal region of Pennsylvania, she began her herbal studies in 2019 at HerbPharm in Oregon and has been hooked ever since. Throughout the years following she learned organic veggie production at Rodale Institute, explored tropical flower farming at Hana Tropicals, and then finally landed herself back in her home county as a PASA apprentice at Katydid Hill herb farm. While moving back home she learned the value and challenges of herbal production at scale, the role tractors and machinery play in sustainable agriculture, and the importance of caring for the land that raised her. After finishing her 2 year apprenticeship she found herself wanting to explore southern Appalachia, which brought her to Chattanooga, TN. In her free time, you can find her nose in a book, painting, or reading tarot cards.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

Amanda Verkest

Sarah Wiatrek


Sarah joined the Rising Fawn Gardens team in December 2023 coordinating the Yoga House and assisting in the medicinal gardens. Her joy for plants formed when she was young, gardening alongside her father in Texas, and continued during her college studies. She received a bachelor’s in Environmental and Resource Management and a master’s in Public Health. In 2022, her learning continued as she received a Permaculture Design Certificate and Community Herbalism Certificate. Sarah’s passion is restoring land for the more-than-human community through the cultivation of native plants. Beyond RFG work, she grows medicine in her garden, learns about her local ecology, snuggles her dog and two cats, and bakes sourdough treats. 

“The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.” – Ester Perel

Alyce Kenney


Alyce is a nature-loving flower girl! Her love of being outdoors began as a child, hiking with her family and exploring nature in all the seasons. Alyce joined the RFG team in 2022 as a volunteer assisting with the Yoga House and medicinal gardens and was quickly brought on as a staff member to continue her expert work. Before joining RFG, Alyce also worked and volunteered in CSAs, and at various farms and home gardens. Outside of work, Alyce enjoys growing flowers in her garden, wildcrafting to create herbal tinctures, and resting with her cat, Martha. 

For Alyce, working alongside others who demonstrate care, respect, and responsibility for our natural earth and all of its life forms is a gift that she has been given. 


“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”  – Laozi


Amanda Verkest

Dorrit Zeigler


Dorrit’s affinity for nature began as a child growing up in the backwoods of Pennsylvania, spending her days getting to know the plants growing in their woods and playing in creeks with her older brother. These experiences fostered a deep care in her for bringing people into deeper relationship with earth. She has work experience in somatic and behavioral therapy, mentorship, and career development, all of which have heavily influenced her plant practice. She is most curious about how healing our relationship with our bodies heals our relationship with earth. For the past 2 years she has worked as a permaculture designer in the Chattanooga area, learning the plants and ecology of the Southeast. Outside of work she loves gardening, crocheting, and drawing.

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” – Mary Oliver