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Meet an Eco-Farmer: Mountain Meadows Farm

Mountain Meadows Farm Eco-Farmers

Mountain Meadows Eco-Farmers

Why did you begin farming?

I love the land — hiking in West Virginia where I was born and raised, a World War II victory garden, fishing in Canada, and duck and goose hunting on a wheat farm in North Dakota.

Have you always been an eco-farmer, or did you make a change?

Yes. As a career pathologist with a special interest in breast cancer, I wanted the healthiest beef I could produce.

What was the biggest hurdle you have overcome?

Paperwork requirements, organic certification, label approval, Whole Foods Market requirements, government requirements.

What do you enjoy most about farming?

Seeing herds of mother cows and calves in every direction on pasture on a beautiful summer day; improving our land.

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Meet an Eco-Farmer: Godsell Farm

Godsell Farm Eco-Farmer

Mark & Pam Godsell

Why did you begin farming?
Our goal was and is to educate those interested in learning about farm life before technology took over and to promote the humane treatment of animals, all while making it a fun and enjoyable experience for all ages. A trip to the farm provides hands-on learning. We offer a hatchery program for local schools to bring the farm to the classroom and are starting an “adopt the farm” program where they can hear about daily life on a diversified farm in the classroom.

Have you always been an eco-farmer, or did you make a change?

Yes, it is truly a mission of ours — sustainable living, non-use of large equipment to farm, bringing today’s children to the farm to learn and explore where their food comes from.

What was the biggest hurdle you have overcome?

Making a living, as Pam is still employed outside of the farm.

What do you enjoy most about farming?

The animals and how they contribute to the fields; the growing and sharing of veggies to our CSA members; having kids to the farm that have no idea where their food comes from — how crops are raised, how an egg does or doesn’t become a chick.

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Meet an Eco-Farmer: Quail Hill Farm/Peconic Land Trust

Quail Hill Farm/Peconic Land Trust Eco-Farmers

Quail Hill Farm Summer Crew

Why did you begin farming?

I lived for a decade in Love Lane Cottage and Studio, Mousehole, on the Penwith Peninsula, Cornwall, England. When I learned that the cliff meadows, located at the end of our lane, were considered part of “the earliest ground in Britain,” how could I refuse?

Have you always been an eco-farmer, or did you make a change?

Always. As a child of the 1960s, not having been raised on a farm, I asked the most obvious question: Why would I disrupt the ecology of a place with substances I had no part in producing and with no knowledge of the long-term effects?

What was the biggest hurdle you have overcome?

Facing the conservative stance of an intransigent system — relatively new, yet in the grip of a powerful industry — and adamantly resistant to change.

What do you enjoy most about farming?

Sun, wind, rain, the texture of soil, late light brilliant on the hedgerows, the sound of the air reflected through a hawk’s wings, the miracle of a tiny seed able to produce a 12-foot stalk, and a flower and food as nourishment. I also admire the shine on the steel shanks of the chisel plow.
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Meet an Eco-Farmer: Apple Ridge Farm

Apple Ridge Farm Eco-Farmers

Brian & Lisa Bruno, Apple Ridge Farm

Why did you begin farming?

I started farming while in college to make a little extra money one summer and caught the bug.

Have you always been an eco-farmer, or did you make a change?

Yes, we’ve been farming sustainably since the beginning.

What was the biggest hurdle you have overcome?

The biggest hurdle has been growing the business beyond my own capabilities by hiring employees and turning over some of the responsibilities of running the farm to them.

What do you enjoy most about farming?

I enjoy doing something real and feeding people truly good healthy food that was produced with no shortcuts.

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Meet an Eco-Farmer: Maple Hill Garden

Maple Hill Garden Eco-Farmer

Colin King, Maple Hill Garden

Have you always been an eco-farmer, or did you make a change?

We have been operating our farm using strict organic methods since our farm’s inception three decades ago. Building soil organic matter has been very important to us, as well as sustainably improving our woodlot for wildlife habitat and maple sugaring. With the introduction of livestock in 2010, we’ve been using management intensive grazing with our sheep to improve our pastures. The results, in terms of biodiversity of all forms of life in our pastures, are awe-inspiring.

What was the biggest hurdle you have overcome?

Adding the livestock enterprises to our farm posed immense challenges both in terms of knowledge and infrastructure. Our family had plenty of knowledge about raising beautiful eggplant in our northern climate, but very little in the way of animal husbandry skills. In the first two years, I dealt with significant predation loss of our chickens and a case of nearly deadly fly strike with a lamb. We also had no fencing on the farm. Today we have 5.5 acres of pasture, fenced in half-acre to 1-acre paddocks and have also dramatically reduced predation.
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Meet an Eco-Farmer: Vermont Valley Community Farm

Vermont Valley Community Farm Eco-Farmer

Vermont Valley Community Farm

Have you always been an eco-farmer, or did you make a change?

David was born and raised on a diversified Wisconsin family farm. We conventionally farmed for three years on a farm before this one. At Vermont Valley we’ve always farmed organically.

What was the biggest hurdle you have overcome?

I don’t know that there’s been a specific, big hurdle. There have been huge learning curves for 20 years, and the learning curves haven’t stopped. We were new at vegetable growing. We were new at being certified organic. We were new at CSA. We were new at all of this, and so along the way we just kept learning and growing.

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