Posts By Hana Lurie
From Gardener to Organic Grower, New Jersey Farmer Finds Sustainability in Embracing the Local CommunityJanuary 8, 2013 | Hana Lurie
Al Esposito of Poplar Wood Farm does it all: from growing and selling organic produce and cut flowers to garden landscaping, as well as raising free-range chickens and goats. As if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, Al is currently the President of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey, leading the non-profit organization with a goal to make healthy food an abundant possibility.
I recently spoke with Al to learn more about what inspired him to become a farmer, his involvement in NOFA and the future goals of his farm.
Before settling down to start his own organic farming operation, County Line Harvest, in Petaluma, CA, David Retsky cut his teeth farming all over the country and internationally through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). His certified organic farms focus primarily on growing lettuces and leafy greens, which the farm provides to local restaurants and sells at 10 farmers markets throughout California each week.
I recently spoke with farmer Zoe Speidel, who works at the farm to learn more about its history, the challenges that it faces, future plans and more.
For Glenn and Karen Cook of Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, MA, sustainability is more than just a catch phrase. On their 145-acre farm the family’s composting practices have significantly increased soil organic matter. By employing solar panels and wind turbines, Cider Hill Farm also provides itself with 95% of the electricity that it needs to operate.
I recently spoke with Glenn Cook to learn more about how his family farm evolved, the challenges that it faces, and his future goals for the farm.
Since 1978, Don Kretschmann has run Kretschmann Organic Farm, an 80-acre farm in Rochester, Pennsylvania that provides organically grown produce, fruits, and meats to Pittsburgh area customers. Kretschmann has embraced a number of different business models and through business savvy and opportunity recognition has achieved profitability on his farm.
I recently spoke with Kretschmann to learn more about the origin of his farm, his organic proclivities, and how his farm achieved profitability and more.
Sixteen years ago Matthew Kozazcki realized his childhood dreams of running his own farm. Located in Newbury, Massachusetts, Kozazcki’s Tendercrop Farms has grown to cover 600-acres on which he sustainably grows a diverse range of produce and livestock from peaches and spinach to Brussels sprouts and hormone and antiobiotic free chickens, black angus beef and turkeys.
I recently spoke with Kozazcki about the origin of his farm, the challenges that he faces in consistently applying sustainable practices, his goals for the future and more.
Reggie Oakley has set his sights on transforming the tobacco farm that he grew up on into an economically viable sustainable farm. With a passion for farming and a desire to utilize ‘tried and true’ sustainable practices, Oakley started farming his family’s land in Roxboro, North Carolina two seasons ago. His endeavor, New Oaks Farm, has not been without challenges, but Oakley has been honing his business model and focusing on online solutions that he hopes will shortly land his operation on solid financial footing.
Skinny Lane Farm, located 30 miles east of Austin, began as a backyard garden project designed to supply a single family with fresh produce year round. The farm’s founder, Bekki Callaway, soon outgrew the confines of her backyard and in short order she and her husband purchased 13-acres of land to start Skinny Lane Farm. Embracing sustainable practices and innovative business models, in just its first year operation, Callaway has not only found happiness, but has nearly reached a financial break-even point with Skinny Lane.
Laurie Thorpe, owner and creator of Tangleweed Farm in Tehachapi, CA, did not set out with the intention of turning her farm into a business enterprise. In fact, her agricultural endeavors began for the sole purpose of feeding her family organic, healthy food and instilling sustainable values in the lives of her children. However, her skill in and passion for growing and nurturing the land became so apparent that sharing the fruit of her harvest with others seemed only natural.
I recently spoke with Thorpe to find out about the story behind her farm, what motivated her to embrace sustainable farming practices, the challenges her farm faces, her future goals and more.
For Alexis Koefoed, a quest for purpose 15 years ago ended with the purchase of farmland in Vacaville, California. She is now co-owner along with her husband Eric of Soul Food Farm, a sustainable farm that raises pastured chickens for both meat and eggs. The Koefoeds farm full-time and live leanly off of the income they generate primarily from running their CSA. Lately, the couple has sought to diversify its product offering to lavender and other crops in order to increase the farm’s economic viability.
How does a Los Angeles-based techie completely disconnected from food and agriculture end up a passionate sustainable farmer? It’s really quite simple. The techie-turned-farmer in question, one Nathan Winters, strikes out on a 4300-mile bike ride across America’s rural landscapes to find inspiration. He works on a number of farms along the way and ends up with a passion for organic “bootstrap” agriculture that leads him to start Relly Bub Farm in southern Vermont.
I recently spoke with Winters to learn more about his embrace of agriculture, how his cross country trip shaped his philosophy on farming, his words of wisdom for new farmers, the challenges he faces and more.
In just six years, Justin Dansby and Paige Witherington have transformed Serenbe Farms in the sustainable Serenbe community 30 miles Southwest of Atlanta, Georgia into a thriving and economically viable certified organic farming enterprise. They have also launched a successful on farm apprenticeship program that has seen 85% of its graduates go on to become farmers.
I recently spoke with Justin Dansby to learn more about Serenbe Farms, why the farm values organic certification and sustainable practices so highly, the challenges that it faces and more.
7 Young Farmers Get Down & Dirty, Establish Big Muddy Urban Farm to Supply Sustainable Produce to OmahansJune 14, 2012 | Hana Lurie
In just under three months, seven young farmers have taken the germ of an idea to create a sustainable urban farm to supply a community in Omaha, Nebraska with fresh vegetables and herbs and made it into a reality in the guise of Big Muddy Urban Farm. Big Muddy Urban Farm consists of five decentralized plots situated in North Omaha. The urban farm’s founders, who collectively brought Big Muddy to life and work its urban fields, aspire to create a new source of sustainably grown produce and herbs for their city, to become a self-sustaining farm operation and inspire other area residents through educational and volunteer opportunities to grow their own food.
I recently spoke to Tyler Magnuson and Ali Clark, two of the founders of Big Muddy Urban Farm, to learn more about the story behind the farm, how it operates, the farming practices that it embraces, the challenges that it faces and more.
It was while studying engineering that Bill Razey of Razey Orchard, a family owned farm growing organic cherries and a variety of other fruits, came to the realization that he wanted to continue his family’s farming legacy in Washington State. “I left school and went back to the farm and I’ve been poor ever since!” says Bill, somewhat jokingly.
Razey Orchard sits 150 miles southeast of Seattle and is home to fourth-generation farmer Bill and his wife Mary Kay. Initially a conventional farm, Bill decided to make the conversion to sustainable and organic farming in the mid 90s.