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

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.

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