for September travelers
|At The Asparagus And Apple Farm in Cobble Hill, British Columbia they grow apples (including varieties Fuji and Jonagold), but they also produce both green and white varieties of asparagus. You can find recipes and ideas for using the latter at their web site.|
F.W. Owen raises and milks Holsteins at
Here's a man who has spent a lot of time studying and experimenting with the use of available pastureland. Even in Ohio's four-season climate, he keeps the cattle happy and healthy on pasture grazing most of the year. And he's helping other dairy farmers learn to do the same thing.
I asked him about the influences leading up to his choice to farm. He told me he had been a member of 4-H, but when asked if that had made a difference, he said,
"Somewhat, but I never really made a decision because I always 'knew' I would be a farmer."
He did grow up in a farming community, and I wondered if anyone had tried to talk him out of the life they all knew so well.
"My father said I could make more money doing anything else."
Is this the advice F.W. Owen would give young people now? Apparently not. When I asked what he would tell a young person today who was considering farming, he only said,
"Go for it".
He does see challenges for future farmers, at least in the United States, mainly because of the "unpredicatibility of government policy."
While I have not been to Washington state's eastern section, I am told it has quite different farming factors (such as climate) from that of the state's western region. This is where you'll find growers like the family you'll get to know at
Wheatina's Amber Waves Page.
If you'd love to be a farmer but you think it might be too difficult without a lot of support, find another person (or another family) to join you! That's how they seem to have done it at
Wildest Dreams Farm in Pennsylvania.
They raise and show Alpine and Nubian goats and use the milk to make cheeses. They are also learning about and growing organic vegetables. Glenny (of the "clan") and I exchanged an email or two, and she wanted to talk more about farming and young people, but I think she must have her hands full just keeping it all going. She and Eric and Debbye and the rest of the extended family are not just talking about young farmers. They are actually teaching by doing.
If I ever get to Hungry Horse, Montana, I'm going to visit
Shady Side Herb Farm where Amy Hinman-Shade and her husband Ron grow, show, and sell herbs just a few miles from Glacier National Park.
I was able to get a little more information from Amy about the influences affecting her choices in farming. Referring to childhood organizations such as Future Farmers of America and 4-H, she told me:
"I was a member of 4-H when I was around 12, but I chose to show dogs and wasn't involved with the agricultural aspect so 4-H wasn't such a big influence in my gardening choice."
Regarding specific adults who might have influenced her most in wanting to farm:
"A woman by the name of Ruth Newberry who owned "The Herb Basket" in Sharon Center, Ohio hired me to work for her when I was 10. I had gardened with my parents, but she taught me specific herbs and how to grow them as well as use them. She patiently answered hundreds of questions, and put up with me pulling herbs as well as weeds. I was paid $.75 an hour; however, the education was priceless. When I was a teenager I also worked for my Aunt Francie helping her raise numerous dried flowers, as well as the local herb matriarch, Jean Gleason, who furthered my knowledge. I found it extremely helpful to work for a number of people to learn everybody's style which helped develop my own."
But not everyone was quite as enthusiastic about growing things as a career.
"My Father discouraged me because of the number of family farms which have been sold in Northeastern Ohio. Our family has one of the few farms left in Copley."
Her advice today for young people considering farming?
"I would tell them to research the specialty crops in herbs and dried flowers because the markets are really booming. Also look at niche markets and organic produce, particulary near the urban areas. Be prepared for very hard work without much recreational time during the peak season, and for some disappointment when Mother Nature slaps you in the face. If it's truly in your blood, these things don't matter so much and next year always is going to be better."
Her thoughts on special challenges she sees for future farming:
"Actually, with the internet as a marketing tool, as well as overnight express service, the market is opening up for the future farmers to be more creative. In more traditional farming, the cost of equipment and labor is staggering which will do in many farmers. Good workers are especially difficult to find. I have an incredibly difficult time finding someone who is will to WORK. I never expect anyone to work harder than I do, yet they don't last very long. Taxes are another huge hurdle because you will be punished for working hard. I would love to see the elimination of farm subsidies, and real tax reform which will allow us to keep our own money and reinvest it in our farms."
And one final thought for future farmers: "Never stop learning about your profession, and be prepared to change your style - adapt or die (which is why so many farms in Ohio are gone)."
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