Beck's Blog

From Our Family Farm to Yours

5

Jul

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Pennsylvania Farmer, Haldeman Farms

Just like other businesses, many farms work best when each person is in charge of something different. At Haldeman Farms in Pennsylvania each member of the team has a specific set of responsibilities matched with their talents. Brothers Gern and Tim Haldeman, and Martha Graybill each have very different roles on the farm, but together, their efforts are what make the large family farm work.

For Gern, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was never even a question. He always knew he was going to farm.

“I don’t remember what grade it was, but when I was in elementary school the teacher had us imagine what we were going to be or what we were going to do when we grew up. I remember saying, ‘I don’t need to do this because I know what I’m going to do.’ And the teacher said, ‘You don’t know what you’re going to do.’ I said, ‘No. I know what I’m going to do.’ She said, ‘What is that?’ I said, ‘I’m going to be a farmer.’ That still didn’t get me out of the exercise. I had no idea how, when or where it was going to happen, but I knew somehow I was going to be a farmer because that’s who I was, that’s all I enjoyed, that’s what I did.”

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2

Jul

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: LEAF Project Founder, Heidi Witmer

As farmers do their job, they aren’t just raising crops. They’re growing communities and building up the next generation. Heidi Witmer had that in mind when she started LEAF in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

“LEAF stands for Leadership, Education and Farming. At the core of it, it’s about cultivating young leaders through the meaningful work of raising food. On a deeper level, as a farmer there’s this idea that you’re in partnership with potential. Any seed that you’re touching already knows what it’s going to be, but the fullness and the depth of its abundance is the farmers’ job. I’ve been an educator most of my life, and I felt really strongly that our most important crop, our young people, weren’t getting that level of cultivation. They already have their potential, they already have their strength, they’re on their path, but we sometimes weren’t exposing them to appropriate adversity at the right times or really fertilizing their soil in the way we should be.”

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30

Jun

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Delaware Farmer, Walter Hopkins

Growing up, coming back to the family dairy farm in Delaware is the last thing Walter Hopkins imagined for himself. Life worked out a little differently than he pictured, but that’s what makes it enjoyable.

“As a kid I worked my butt off and was hell bent I was going to get off this farm. I went off to university and majored in ag engineering. After having a summer job in that, I decided that home wasn’t all that bad after all. I graduated from college and went into the service. When I came back from Vietnam, I came directly to the farm and never looked back. That was in 1971, better than 40 years ago.”

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28

Jun

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Ohio Farmers, Keith and Beverly Schmidt

Farming is all Keith Schmidt ever wanted to do. Today he farms with his son in southeast Ohio, but his dream didn’t happen overnight. It wouldn’t have been possible without a community.

Growing up, Keith was active in FFA and worked for older farmers in his area, which nurtured his desire to be in agriculture. “I pull out all my goal setting things from FFA and they all say the same thing. Farm.”

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24

Jun

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Maryland Farmer, Robert Black

Tucked between the mountains, in a little town of Thermont, Maryland lies a colorful orchard. Throughout the season, locals come to enjoy berries, apples and apricots. Busloads of school children come each year to learn about Catoctin Mountain Orchard. Robert Black and his sister, Pat, take pride in growing fresh fruits and vegetables as the second generation on the family farm.

“My dad got the farm in 1961. In the beginning, my father had worked for the gentleman that was here, Mr. Kelbaugh. Mr. Kelbaugh had no children and my father just got more interested in it, so Kelbaugh and my father worked out a deal if my father did a really good job of managing it, he would help share in the profits and that’s how my father got this farm. It’s kind of unique.”

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23

Jun

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Ohio Farmer, Joe Osterholt

Just like snowflakes, no two farms are alike. Ohio farmer, Joe Osterholt knows that from experience.

“I’m fortunate to be part of two family farms. I worked at a feed mill and helped my dad and brother on our family farm in western Ohio. But after my wife Jennifer and I got married, I ended up moving to central Ohio because she had just built a house there. I interviewed for a few jobs, but wanted something with a lot of flexibility so I could still go back and help my family. Last year, I helped her dad in the spring and then he offered to let me just keep working with him. I've been helping him on the farm for about a year now.“

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22

Jun

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Indiana Farmer, Lauren Schwab

Sometimes following your passion means coming home, right where it all started. Lauren Schwab has traveled internationally, interned in Indiana, and recently graduated from college. But at the end of the day, those experiences pointed her right back to the home farm in southeast Ohio.

Lauren was raised on her family’s hog operation along with her older brother. As a girl, she enjoyed showing pigs. “When you’re younger, you don’t realize what a special opportunity it is to be able to go out and work with your family each day. I have a lot of great memories with my brother growing up learning about the animals. I guess that really taught us responsibility when we were younger.”

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20

Jun

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Ohio Farmer, Rachael Vonderhaar

It’s no secret that farming is hard work. On the hottest summer days, there’s hay to bale. Even in below zero temperatures, livestock need to be fed. Not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle. Farming takes a special kind of toughness.

“My husband and I are the third marriage between two very large German farm families from the Cincinnati area.” Right before her wedding, Rachael Vonderhaar’s grandma pulled her aside. Because there were so many grandkids, Grandma didn’t talk to anyone one on one very often so Rachael knew this was important. For the first time, Grandma shared her trials of being a woman on the farm. “That’s when I realized just how tough her life was. But Grandma reassured me I could handle it. I grew up around agriculture, but it was that day after talking with Grandma that I decided I really wanted to be a farmer.”

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16

Jun

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Michigan Farmers, Kris and Carla Wardin

They say home is where the heart is. That’s especially true for Kris and Carla Wardin. The couple had marketing jobs in Connecticut until nine years ago when they decided to move back to Michigan. Home was calling. 

The door opened to take over Carla’s parents’ dairy farm. “We really wanted to come back because we always wanted to own our own business.” Carla reflected. “We explored a lot of different avenues, but we decided this would be a good one because we both really liked the way that we grew up next to our grandparents. We also really liked the idea of our kids knowing what we did every day. We both traveled for work and we knew they wouldn’t know what we did, and we wouldn’t be around, and it would just be in this far off office building doing something they didn’t understand. So we liked the idea of them being able to be with us all the time.”

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14

Jun

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Ohio Farmers, Kurk and Nick Zeigler

Many farms span several generations. For more than a hundred years, parents, children, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents have farmed the same treasured piece of land. Cousins Kurk and Nick Ziegler are the next generation to carry on their family’s farming tradition.

“Our farm is five generations on literally the same homestead. My great, great, great grandpa got off a train up here in Brighton, walked down the road, saw the place, went home and got his family, said ‘We’re moving’ and bought the place. And the rest is history.”

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7

Jun

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Michigan Farmer, Barbara Sieman

Science tells us all about forces that make our world go round. Gravity and friction are explained in textbooks, but there’s something more powerful that makes Barbara and Darrin Siemen’s farm work – love.

Barbara Siemen didn’t grow up in a farming family. She never imagined she’d live on a farm. It wasn’t until she met her husband, Darrin, at Michigan State that she was introduced to life in agriculture. “Through college, we’d come back home on the weekends here to the farm. I’d go out there and milk in the parlor right next to him, I’d ride on the tractor fender, I’d sit on the uncomfortable armrest of the tractor for hours. That’s really where it started to blossom as I asked him questions. He was my first teacher. He had a way of explaining things to me that I understood.”

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1

Jun

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Michigan Farmers, Bowerman Blueberries

Across the country, family farms of all shapes and sizes work hard raising and harvesting the food, fiber and fuel that keeps America going. The Bowermans are one of Michigan’s exemplary farm families.

From its start in 1954, Bowerman Blueberries Farm Market has grown with the family. Now, six family members are on the farm full time. Randy and Carol Bowerman are proud to have their children, Kelly and Kassie and son-in-laws Tom and Andrew continuing the business and raising their own children as the fourth generation.

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27

May

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Illinois Farmer, Jim Rus

“A lot of farming is timing.”

Farmers work hard to time out preparing the soil, planting their crops, and training the next generation. But sometimes God has different plans for the farm. That’s all part of this way of life.

Jim Rus always knew he wanted to come back as the third generation working on his family’s corn and soybean farm in western Illinois.

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24

May

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Iowa Farmer, Erin Brenneman

College is a time of exploration. It’s a time to try new things, experience different lifestyles, and make connections that will shape your life forever. Erin Brenneman had no idea her Iowa State adventure would transform her from a Chicago city girl to a sow momma in southeast Iowa.

After working with horses and talking to her high school counselor about her love for animals, Erin decided to major in Animal Science at Iowa State University. That’s where she met Tim. He lived a floor above her in the dorms. At the beginning of the school year, Erin couldn’t understand why Tim went home every weekend. After all, weekends are when college gets fun!

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