Why I Farm: Dennis Hitzeman


I farm because one day I realized not enough people grow actual food, and if I didn’t start doing it, I was part of the problem.

I should probably start at the beginning of the story: I worked for 20 years in information technology, 15 years of that with the military. Along the way, I went a lot of places and learned a lot of things, and one of the things I learned was how precarious this whole arrangement we call modern life really is.

This process of learning was gradual until I experienced three events. First, I spent 30 days in southwestern Mississippi in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Then, I happened to be in St. Louis in 2007 when the city was hit by severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, and in Dayton, Ohio a year later when a windstorm spawned by Hurricane Ike knocked out power to a large part of Ohio.

The experiences I had as a result of those three events drove home the idea that something was wrong—very wrong—with the way we live.Far too many people are incapable of surviving without gasoline, grocery stores, and electricity, and I was one of them. I realized there had to be a better way.

As it happens, my wife grew up on a family farm in rural west-central Ohio, and I realized that is where we had to go back to and start the transformation—perhaps revolution is a better word—I envisioned.

In August of 2009, we returned to the homestead like our own philosophical tornado, marketing her parents’ grass-fed beef, starting a pastured chicken operation, roasting our own coffee that we sell at farmer’s markets in the area, planting a test garden full of all kinds of vegetables and grains, and becoming vocal—even strident—advocates for people to wake up and start doing things like growing their own food and making their own stuff in their own communities while they still can afford to make the change.

So, in short, I farm because I want to be part of whatever happens after gas is too expensive to drive to the grocery 20 miles away where people pay far too much of their hard-invested effort and time for nutrient substances manufactured from agricultural industrial components, and I think raising real food that someone can take from one of our pastures and fields to his dinner table is the way to do it. And I think you can do it too, even if it’s just a small yard-garden, or if you want to take the plunge and farm yourself.

That’s why I farm.


I think it’s interesting that you have experienced some of the things that we just talk about philosophically. Yes, we want to be self-sufficient too, but you really know why that is so important. Keep up the good and needed work.

We also have followed a similar path. Our entire infrastructure relies on a constant supply of oil at all levels; production, processing, transport, and the consumer driving to the retail location. It also impacts us in a myriad of other ways and greater than 50% of this vital resource is imported and not secure due to geopolitical, and weather possibilities. Local agriculture is our past and our future.

I totally agree! Many of the same reasons we started homesteading ourselves!

I agree with everything you have said, Dennis– particularly about people being unable to cope without gasoline, grocery stores, and electricity. Yet most people aren’t even aware of that fact though.

Well, good on you. Keep it up.

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