Series: The Benevolent Side of GMOs
Calling all farmers!
Awhile back I put out an open call to farmers who might be interested in answering some questions about their farms and farming practices. I wanted to hear from big operations, little operations, those that use GMOs, those that don’t. The responses were enthusiastic, varied, and I am excited to present the finished results today. I sent out questionnaires to eight farmers and received five back. Though not every type of grain, crop or produce farm is represented below, it is, I think, a fair representation of styles of farming in America today.
I still welcome input from any other farmers who would like to participate and I very much appreciate the thoughtful answers I received. If you are interested in future involvement please leave a comment below or email email@example.com.
Before I go any further I’d like to say a few words about the scope of farmers and what they mean to our world through my eyes. I admit, I don’t know a lot about farming. I have a stepbrother, Pat, who with the help of his family, owns and operates a large wheat operation in Eastern Oregon. Their land is so vast over there that Pat has trained for a few marathons just running about his fields! With no irrigation, their farm is completely dependent on rain – in north eastern Oregon (semi-arid climate). I have heard stories of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants growing seasons and broken combine air conditioners during harvest. That is the extent of what I know about farming.
When I take a step back and ponder all that is dependent on what farmers grow, it is more than humbling. I can start with food, clothing, shelter and get much more specific from there but I feel those three italicized words can stand alone. Does it get more basic than that? Farmers, thank you for all you do. You sustain us. I’ve truly enjoyed this glimpse into your world.
To start, let’s meet the farmers – in their own words!
Showing off the new John Deere. Mike Bendzela (far left) one of four partners at Dow Farm
Mike Bendzela of Dow Farm Enterprise: I’m one of four partners at Dow Farm Enterprise, a (very) small market farm and CSA (community supported agriculture) in Standish, Maine. My soon-to-be spouse Don Essman is on the right. Our “landlords” and co-partners, Ken Faulstich and Claudia White are in the middle. Dow Farm is a tiny flea on a big planet.
We grow about a hundred different varieties of vegetable crops in Northern New England. We’re basically a home garden gone wild. All together, we cultivate just over an acre of crops, and we also have a small orchard of 85 trees, mostly “heritage” apples. The idea was to partially restore the farm that Claudia’s great-grandfather, Herbert W. Dow, ran a century ago. We’ve found most of the apple tree varieties he planted. We add a little bit more to the vegetable plots each year.
It’s monstrously difficult because the conditions here in Maine are horrendous: cold, dank, fungal, rocky, and dark, and it’s a nasty, brutish, short growing season. Visit Dow Farm Enterprise at Facebook.
Homestead Hill Farm in the Shenandoah Valley
Tom and Barbara Womack of Homestead Hill Farm: Our farm is a small, diverse operation located in Southern Augusta County, Virginia – in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Originally, it was a whole-family operation. Now that the chicks have grown and flown, it’s just us empty-nesters. We grow all sorts of vegetables and fruits as well as raise chickens and sheep. Our chickens provide delicious eggs and excellent meat. The sheep keep the grass mowed and provide lamb products so tasty that no one seems to miss the mint jelly.
Newly planted “upper garden” at Homestead Hill Farm
(Note from Sleuth4Health: I recently ran a repost of an excellent article written by Suzie about the success of her farm. Read Kiss The Boll Worm Goodbye! She also blogs about farming at Kissed A Farmer.)
Slow Money Farm’s giant chinchillas, raised for both fur and high quality, lean meat
Jan Hoadley of Slow Money Farm: I’m an Illinois native now in northwest Alabama getting ready to expand into Kentucky. We do custom options – rabbits, poultry, produce and herbs right now. We’ll be expanding into larger stock – sheep, pigs, cattle – with the purchase of land in Kentucky. We just don’t have room here! We do farm shares, food packages and CSA with flexibility to allow for food choices. There’s a special focus on heritage/heirloom production. Visit Slow Money Farm on Facebook.
Slow Money Farms Anconas and Sussex egg layers
Brian Scott: I’m a 4th generation farmer growing corn, soybeans, popcorn, and wheat in Northwest Indiana. More specifically we raise dent corn, waxy corn, commercial soybeans, and soybeans for seed as well. We grow soybean seed for two different companies. Visit Brian’s blog: The Farmer’s Life.
Tractor shopping at the John Deere Dealer with four generations! Pictured are Brian Scott (left), son Matthew in tow, Brian’s dad and grandpa
I asked each of these farmers a short set of questions. In the next post you will find each question followed by the answers in the same order as above. It was extremely interesting to get different perspectives on the same issues. Happy reading!
~Julee K @ Sleuth 4 Health