How a stove led to the unravelling of Hannah Neeleman and her billion-dollar fortune.

How did Ballerina Farm start?

It didn’t begin with farming for Hannah Neeleman and her husband Daniel. 

If anything, their story begins standing at a ranch in Brazil. They’re city kids, Hannah and Daniel, who married in 2011. She’s a Julliard-trained ballerina and he is a graduate with a masters in business.

The pair were living in South America for Daniel’s job, with their two sons, Henry and Charles, and they were fascinated – no, obsessed – with farm life. 

And on one particular weekend, they found themselves venturing inland, as they often did, so they could explore the thriving farming communities Brazil has to offer.

On that day, they were being led through impressive cattle operations by a skilled farmer while pigs rolled around at their feet. 

Daniel couldn’t tear his eyes away from the sows and barrows. Instead of being confined to stalls and cages, they were roaming openly alongside the cattle, and eating mushy pieces of guava, cashew and star fruit that fall from the trees above them. 

So when Hannah and Daniel returned to the United States, four years after moving to Brazil, they bought some farmland. They were set on making the kind of life for their family that they saw on their travels.

At this point, they had three boys (Henry, Charles and George) and a girl – Frances – on the way (they later welcomed daughters Lois, Martha and Mabel, and currently have an eighth child on the way).

Hannah and Daniel Neeleman. Image: Instagram @ballerinafarm.