Matt Russell, one of Coyote Run Farm’s owners, grew up on a farm in Iowa. And before Russell went to college, he swore he would never do two things: Become a farmer, and live in a small community. Well, a few years out of college was all it took to change Russell’s mind. He moved back to Iowa with Patrick Standley, the Farm’s other owner, and founded the 110-acre Coyote Run Farm in Lacona, IA, in January of 2005. “I wanted to set roots in Iowa,” Russell said. “When we felt like we had enough money to buy a farm, we started looking in the fall of 2004.” The farmers found land through a real estate agent within six weeks of starting their search.
When Russell finally did decide to go into farming, he wanted to make certain his farm business model would mitigate risk. “I wanted to figure out a way to increase the net as a percentage growth. Instead of growing bigger, I wanted to have lower growth and lower input.”
Amy Love is an educated and well-seasoned fifth-generation farmer, as well as a mother of two. She and her husband run Love Farm Organics, a CSA operation located in the Willamette Valley just outside of Portland, Oregon. This land has been farmed by the Love family for over 100 years. Love is passionate about genetic diversity, the well-being of the land and delivering quality food to her community on a modest scale.
I recently spoke with Amy about how her interest in farming developed, the sustainable methods she employs, and the future goals for Love Farm Organics.
“Over 80% of farmland in the U.S. is managed by farmers whose operations fall between small-scale direct markets and large, consolidated firms. These farmers are increasingly left out of our food system. If present trends continue, these farms, together with the social and environmental benefits they provide, will likely disappear in the next decade or two.” Fred Kirschenmann
Often we hear about small farmers and Big Agriculture but what about the growers and producers in the middle? Their operations are usually too large to sell directly to customers, but too small to have much bearing on the stock market. The ‘Ag of the Middle’ is a term used to define the farmers caught in the middle of the agricultural debate both physically and politically.
“We worked in California, Arizona and Vermont for a while so you know there was a thriving local food movement there. So when we came to North Dakota we saw that there wasn’t really. There really wasn’t any professional level CSA and there’s a 100,000 people in this community so we thought ‘well geez there’s got to be room for us to create a business like this.’” –Brian McGinness, Riverbound Farm
Bounded by the historic Missouri River, the North Dakota based Riverbound Farm is home to Brian and Angie McGinness and their children. A farm located in the river bottom comprised of 10-acres of grow space, cottonwood forest, pasture land and wetlands, is a less than typical location for growing certified organic vegetables and creating a community supported agriculture system (CSA). Turns out it’s also a lesson for farmers across the nation. If you grow it, they will come.
It’s quiet right now at the Greenhorn Ranch, but come Friday, after the first batch of chicks is delivered, Terry Gentry and Joan Hurst will be busy for the next eight months nurturing and processing chickens. As owners of G & H Pastured Poultry LLC, their mission is to raise healthy poultry.
When the women purchased 20 acres outside of McCleary, Wash., in 1997, their vision of the property didn’t include a poultry business. They thought of themselves as “gentleman ranchers,” Joan says, and the vision for the property evolved over time.
It’s 10:30 AM at the Saturday Santa Monica farmer’s market and the 600 plus baskets of Pudwill Farms blackberries and raspberries are already sold out. A few flats of plump, crisp looking blueberries are left but they’re going fast, too. One customer asks when those “incredible alpine strawberries” will be back. “Soon,” promises Roy Soto, the vender, with a knowing wink. It’s the middle of winter and this is why the public and the finest California restaurants revere Pudwill – for producing a varied selection of flavor-boisterous berries year round.
“We’ve got at least 12 varieties of blueberries, 10 or more of red raspberries, six of blackberries, three of golden berries, three of black raspberries, five or six different varieties of currents, and black and white mulberries” says Randy Pudwill, who runs the farm now, his voice brimming with pride.
Two Childhood Friends Launch Hydroponic Farm to Meet Year-round Demand for Local Food in New EnglandDecember 17, 2012 | Missy Smith
In 1996, longtime friends from junior high school, Phil Todaro and Jeff Barton, took a road trip that altered the course of their careers. After Todaro read a Wall Street Journal article about a man who left a corporate job to start a hydroponic tomato farm in Vermont, the two friends went to visit him and became inspired. They believed there was a place in their local community for a farm that would provide pesticide-free produce year-round, so they set out to launch their own hydroponic farm. So, after studying under modern hydroponics pioneer Merle Jensen at the University of Arizona in 1996, the two friends and their families established Water Fresh Farm in 1997.
Today, Water Fresh Farm runs a hydroponic farm operation and marketplace in Hopkinton, Maine. Over the years, the two friends left the corporate world in pursuit of their farming dreams, with Jeff coming on full-time when the Water Fresh Farm Marketplace opened in 2011.
“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food” – Hippocrates
To that nugget of wisdom, Paul Greive of Primal Pastures likes to add: “If food is your medicine, then farmers are your doctors.” Greive and his extended family own and operate a small farm in Temecula, California that raises organically-fed chickens that are so “free-range,” the young farmers haul their chickens to greener pastures regularly, allowing their jumbo-sized broilers to roam, peck and scratch over generous plots of constantly renewed grassland on their five-acre farm.
It’s part of their goal to provide the healthiest meat poultry available in Southern California – food that they feel good about providing their children and (eventual) grandchildren.