Phillip and Elissa Miller started farming in Kansas with just a few animals. “About five years ago my daughter decided she wanted to be a large animal vet.” Elissa explained. “I said, ‘If you want to be a large animal vet, you’ve got to have animals.’ So, we got a five-acre parcel of land with a house on it.” From there, it grew. Soon, Sunset the cow, Lorena the pig, and Lamby the lamb called the farm home.
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, farmers, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Walnut Kitchen Homestead, Massachusetts, first generation farmers
For many families, agriculture is a rich tradition. In West Virginia, Morgan Higginbotham is part of the next generation helping to continue her grandfather’s business, John Crihfield Farms & Greenhouses.
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, family farming, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Morgan Higginbotham, John Crihfield Farms & Greenhouses, The Capitol Market, West Virginia, multi-generation farm
Tucked away in the mountains on the outskirts of Concord, New Hampshire sits the picturesque Apple Hill Farm.
Owners Chuck and Diane Souther started farming in high school. “We fell in love with the lifestyle of farming, worked for other farmers, and then in the late 70s were able to purchase this piece of land.” Diane explains. ”We graduated school in ’74, got married in ’76, and bought the farm in ’78. So it was boom, boom, boom. It wasn’t a farm, it was just raw land. There were no buildings, no driveways, no nothing. Everything here we created and have slowly grown through the years.”
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, farm, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, first generation farmer, Massachusetts, Apple Hill Farm, Chuck and Diane Souther
Deb Gangwish has always enjoyed being connected to the outdoors. “Like some people need to go jogging, I need to be outside where I can see the sunset, see the stars, and look for a crescent moon.” Hunting, fishing, and scuba diving are just a few of the family’s favorite past times.
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Deb Gangwish, Nebraska farmer
“I’ve farmed all my life.” recalls Martin Hayden. “I was raised on a farm, grew up on a farm, and farmed with teams. We didn’t farm with tractors. Dad raised cattle, he had horses he farmed with and a few milk cows to live off of. I loved it. Even when I was a little bitty kid I was following him through the field.”
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, farmers, farm family, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Hayden Farms, Martin Hayden, poultry, Kentucky farmers
For some, joining the family farm happens right away. For others, returning to the farm is a longer journey. In Chris Niemann’s case, it was the latter. Although he always had a love for the farm, it didn’t become his home, office and playground until five years ago.
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, family farm, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Nebraska farmer, Chris Niemann, Farm Hats
Shannon Peterson has been involved in agriculture her entire life, just like the generations of Nebraska farmers and ranchers who cared for the land before her. “My husband and I have been married almost 18 years now. We are in a partnership with his brother and his mom. His dad passed away this past September. We’re the fourth generation on his family’s farm. The kids will hopefully be the fifth.” Shannon explains. In addition to row crops, the family raises pigs and cattle. “I primarily deal with the cattle side of things. I love that part of the operation.”
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, farm, family farm, cattle, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Beef, Nebraska Farm
There are so many things Kent Blunier loves about farming, it’s hard to narrow it down. He enjoys anything to do with tractors. “They talk about farm kids playing with tractors and then they grow up and still get to play with tractors. Fixing them in the field is one of my favorite things.”
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Farm Hats, Kent Blunier, Ilinois farmer
Farming is tough. The pride that a successful harvest brings doesn’t come without heartache, stress and sacrifice. The Hardesty family knows this well.
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, family farm, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Kentucky Farm, first generation farm, Nicholas Hardesty
Danielle Grant always knew her future was going to include agriculture. She grew up on a small farm she jokingly describes as “Old McDonald’s farm” and fell in love with the lifestyle.
“I always knew I wanted to be involved in agriculture, I just didn’t know to what capacity. I became an ag teacher, so that was going to be my contribution, but then we met in college, and he already had the farm.”
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, FFA, family farm, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, West Virginia Farm, agricultural education teacher
Coley Drinkwater is a world traveler, entrepreneur and dairy farmer. Every morning her alarm goes off at 3:19 a.m. to start another day working alongside her family at Richlands Dairy Farm. This isn’t how she always pictured her life, but she loves it.
“I went to school for human nutrition, food and exercise because we weren’t encouraged to come back to the farm. I was thinking about doing occupational therapy when I graduated, but I would have to go on full-time for another two and a half years for occupational therapy. I was like, ‘I just want a break from school.’ I’d always wanted to travel the world, so I thought, ‘If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it now while I don’t have any real responsibilities to anyone.’ I worked as a waitress and saved my tips for a year and a half, and then bought a plane ticket and went around the world. It was just awesome. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I got home in early August and they were getting ready to start chopping corn. My dad needed help and I was broke. I already knew how to do what we were doing so he wasn’t going to have to train anybody. I needed the money and I could live for free at my parents’ house, so I started working for him. Then I was like, ‘I always enjoyed the farm. I don’t know if I really want to go back to school.’ I took that time to decide, ‘Is this what I want to do? Is this where my heart is? Or is this going to be the kick in the butt I need to go to grad school.’ I’ve been here ever since. I just fell in love with it.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, dairy, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Virginia Farm, Coley Drinkwater Jones
Robert Harris is a first generation farmer in Virginia, but that doesn’t mean he loves what he does any less. In fact, building his operation from scratch has given him more determination to do what he loves and a passion for helping others in his shoes.
“Farming’s all I ever really wanted to do. I can never remember a time when it’s not what I wanted to do.” Others in Robert’s family farmed, but there wasn’t a chance for him to be involved. His great-grandpa and grandpa farmed, and his dad grew up on the farm. But when his dad was in high school, his great-grandpa decided to retire the farm because he ran out of help. By the time Robert was born, they didn’t farm anymore.
Tags: Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, Why I Farm Roadtrip, first generation farmer, Robert Harris, Virginia farmer, Farm Bureau, Young farmers
For some, farming is a lifelong dream. For others, it’s an unexpected blessing. That’s the case for Marie Mayor, co-owner of Lavender Fields at Warrington Manor. She never imagined that a simple trip to tell a moving friend goodbye would open the door for her to begin farming.
“I became a farmer when I was about 56. I retired from the federal government. I had been in education for 42 years, I think. Now I’m here. My partner, Sharon, and I have been doing this for 14 years. We came out here to buy a lavender plant and the farmer was moving. She was getting married and moving to Australia to grow lavender there. We came to tell her goodbye. She said, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do. My farm deal fell through yesterday.’ Sharon and I said, ‘Who’s your realtor?’ Just on the spur of the moment we bought a farm. It’s absolutely the truth and I tell the story because I still can’t believe I did it.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Delaware Farm, Marie Mayor, Lavender Fields at Warrington Manor, lavender farm
You don’t have to grow up on a farm to fall in love with agriculture. Brian Hearn, farm manager at the University of Delaware, is living proof.
“I never really grew up on a farm, but I always worked on farms. My grandfather had a very small farm. He had a few chicken houses and five acres to till. It was like a five-acre garden. When I was little, I’d play in the garden.” From there, Brian went on to work for farmers in his area.
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Delaware Farm, Brian hearn, University of Delaware
Jennifer Debnam has never pictured herself as anything other than a farmer. When she’s not in the breeding barn, she’s likely helping the next generation of farmers through Farm Bureau, 4-H, or on her own family’s farm.
“I grew up on a farm. We didn’t live in this area of Maryland. We lived in Howard County. That’s between Baltimore and Washington D.C., very close to Columbia, Maryland.” Jennifer recalls. As development in the area increased, and rented crop land was sold, the family had to make some difficult decisions. “I was in high school, my sister was in middle school, and my brother was somewhere between us. My parents sat us down at the kitchen table and said ‘We have enough to farm here for the rest of our lives. But if you guys want to farm we probably need to move.’ What did we know? We were like, ‘Sure we want to farm!’ It took us about two seconds to get that answer. Dad had always hunted in this area and said, ‘I know where I’d like to go.’ So we ended up here in Kennedyville.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Jennifer Debnam, Langenfelder Pork, Maryland Farm
Growing up on a farm is a unique privilege. For Maryland cucumber farmer, Hannah Cawley the farm is where her first lessons in hard work, patience, and teamwork were learned. Following in her father’s footsteps and working alongside her family taught Hannah commitment.
Hannah was raised on a diversified farm in Caroline County, Maryland. The area offers sandy soil and a favorable climate for produce. “We till about 1,000 acres of corn, wheat, barley, soybeans, peas, and sweet corn but our big thing is cucumbers. This year we’re going to plant somewhere around 1,300 or 1,400 acres of cucumbers.” Hannah’s farm can raise two crops of cucumbers per year, thanks to their seasons. Most other cucumber producing states only have the right weather conditions for one harvest a year.
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Hannah Cawley, cucumbers, Maryland Farm
“You do it because you like it, not because you want to get rich. It’s not for the short hours.” Tad Kuntz says growing fruit is in his blood. “I’m a 4th generation fruit grower. I grew up on a farm north of Gettysburg, about a 600 acre orchard. My dad, my two uncles and my grandfather were fruit growers. My great-grandfather was too, but I never met him. My grandfather and father taught me pretty much everything I needed to know to be in the business. I went to college and majored in horticulture just to learn why you do it the way they told me to do it. Most of my education came from them.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Pumpkins, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Tad Kuntz, Masonic Villages Farm Market, apples, fruit trees, Pennsylvania Farm
“Experience is the best teacher.” M.L. Everett counts himself lucky to have the experiences of generations before him on top of his own to guide his decisions for the family’s diversified farm in Virginia. M.L. says, “A lot of farmers this day in time will tell you, ‘I’m not self-made. I have a good start from previous generations.’ A farmer has to know a lot about a lot of different things. He’s got to be a scientist, electrician, a plumber, a mechanic, a carpenter. Those trades have been passed on from generation to generation. Each builds on what the previous generation had learned through experiences.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, M.L. Everett, peanuts, Virginia Farm
Sarah Leonard's family has been on the same farm for 100 years. “The farm was given to my great grandmother as a wedding present, and then they kept buying land,” beamed Sarah. Over the last century, a lot has changed for the Virginia farmers, including their neighbors. Busy roads and big cities surround the farm now. They couldn’t pick up their milk cows, beef cattle or row crops to move, so the family’s only choice was to adapt to their changing surroundings. “We’ve chosen to embrace our neighbors, and we enjoy it.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Sarah Leonard, Cows-N-Corn, agritourism, Virginia Farm
After moving all around the country for their jobs with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) agency in 2013, Adam and Diana Dellinger were ready for something different. So, they decided to start their own hops farm in Carlisle, Pennsylvania called Sunny Brae Hops. “We don’t fit into any of the normal farming boxes.” Diana laughs.
“We started thinking about homesteading and definitely knew we wanted to do that whenever we finally got a piece of property. Adam was starting to get antsy to do something different with his time than being at the office. He was getting tired of that kind of life, but we weren’t ready at that point to do anything about it so he stuck it out until we moved back to Pennsylvania. Even then we didn’t make the jump right away, because it takes quite a leap of faith to say, ‘I’m going to leave my salary job to go farm.’ Everyone looks at you like you’re crazy because it’s hard to make money farming. It took us a long time to get where we are today, and even now we’re just in the beginning stages of the farm.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Pennsylvania Farm, Adam Dellinger, Diana Dellinger, Sunny Brae Hops, hops, first generation farmer