Why I Farm (or Homestead)

Why I Farm — A City Version: Barbara Ayers


I hope everyone won’t mind if I contribute my story. I have often wanted to comment on this wonderful, thought provoking site, but felt too shy because I don’t have a farm. My husband works in the entertainment business, hence we live in Pasadena, part of the giant suburban sprawl of Los Angeles, California. I didn’t grow up on a farm either — suburbs, again, outside of Washington, DC.  But my maternal grandparents were farmers who emigrated from Romania to Western Canada. I believe the urge to farm must be passed down in one’s genetic code.

I’d always made flower gardens, and I’m a good cook. Somewhere back during the culinary revolution, I came upon a cookbook by Alice Waters, who can’t help but be inspiring. So I planted a pot of basil and parsley on my apartment balcony. Alice was right — picking that super fresh basil whenever I needed it, instead of spending two dollars for it, half wilted from the grocery store, was absolutely life changing. I spent the next fifteen years growing fruits and vegetables

Why I Farm: Jeff Pence

Greenfield, Ohio

To many, farming is hard work and not worth the risk. But to others, the enjoyment of caring for livestock and growing your own food makes it more than fun, it becomes a passion.

The garden alone is a game played with Mother Nature that equals anything a person can view on any of the TV sports channels. I’d say it is a combination of chess; wrestling and hide-n-go seek.

The thrills of a garden never end for those bitten by the gardening bug. Every season brings a new delight of anticipation, optimism, and rewards along with a touch of disappointment and the rare discouragement. Mother Nature doesn’t always play fair.

Why I Want To Farm: Chris Geddings


When I was in my teens, my paternal grandfather, Grandad, announced to me that tomatoes no longer had any flavor. He remembered tomatoes from when he was young, and what you could buy or grow in your garden today just didn’t compare.

My maternal grandparents had a place in the North Carolina mountains. In my teens, they lived off of part civil service pension, periodic tax work, and subsisting off of their 40 acres, where they had a few fields and some pastured livestock.

I grew up around chickens, rabbits and gardens. Nothing very extensive, but, at my Dad’s we always had fresh eggs, and never quite got the rabbits going well, but tried, and at my Mom’s we had eggs and her chickens from time to time. The gardening was never very extensive, but it put some interesting things on our table

Why I Farm: Paul Kempf


I come from a long line of Irish farmers…

It’s really my maternal grandparents fault. My grandfather was born in Ireland in 1900. He came from a wealthy family of tobacco/potato dealers. When he immigrated here in the early teens, Ireland was still an English colony. My maternal grandmother’s people came during the Great Famine of the 1850’s. They settled initially in Long Island, New York – were they grew – potatoes. It was there she met my grandfather – he drove a potato truck for the family business. Sometime during the Depression they moved to the Catskill Mountains – they found the bony, mountain land not conducive to potatoes. So, they switched to livestock – sheep and dairy cattle. I was born on their farm, in Cornwallville, NY, on Windham Mountain.

Eventually, my parents would buy their own farm, in the Town of Greenvile, about 20 miles east of my grandparents. It was a big, old farmhouse (13 rooms),

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.

Why I Don’t Farm Yet: John Depew

Lost John

The cabin is built intelligently, bermed halfway up the first floor on three sides, and wood heated. We cut our own wood in the state park, and I have no intention of ever heating any other way, just as I have no interest in living in any town or city, whatever size.

The reason why I do not yet farm is simple: Land. The price of land here has doubled in the last ten years, which I suppose is about the average across the nation. Farmland in this great Jeffersonian grid currently sells for around $2000/acre, which is great compared to almost anywhere else in the country, until you realize that essentially the smallest parcel you are likely to find for sale is 80 acres. Usually 160, a quarter section. The moment you are able to shoot or photograph a large whitetail buck on said land, count on the price going to $3000, since the rich non-resident hunters are eager to buy good wooded land and let it grow up into a huge brush heap so that they can be sure to shoot a deer the one weekend a year they’re in the county. For that matter, a pretty good chunk of the farmland in the county is owned by non-residents too,

Why I Homestead: Jenn Campus


Since I was small, I have always loved animals with horns and hooves, mainly goats and sheep, but also as I have gotten older, members of the cervidae family, like elk, reindeer and whitetails, all ruminants similar to their domesticated cousins. If there is a family of animals that I feel a kind of kinship and draw to, it would be ruminants. Yes, I love my dogs – they are pretty much kids to me, but the ruminants have always held deep fascination for me. Goats for example are the second domesticated animal after dogs, so the human race has a long history with them, as well as the cervidaes who have nourished and clothed humans for centuries. It is stored in our blood and DNA, and theirs too.

My whole life, I have loved working farms and petting zoos – where I could go and watch, get close to and touch domesticated livestock animals, always dreaming that one day I might have my own flock of sheep or mixed herd of sheep and goats

Why I Farm: John Finlayson

Peanut and I

New Zealand

At over 60 years of age I have been farming in Northern New Zealand all of my life; dairying, sheep, beef cattle, goats, organic orcharding and vegetable growing and obviously a few hens, ducks, etc; initially on a commercial basis on the family farm of 1,400 acres but then reality set in and I have now downsized to a more manageable 50 acres which suits me just fine. We live a reasonably sustainable lifestyle; not connected to the grid, grow or produce/make most of what we need and if we do require something from an external source then we will plan ahead and purchase it.

Why I Farm: Chiara Dowell

Little Flower Farm CSA

Sometimes when I’m covered in mud, smell like a mixture of whey and pig manure, can’t close my blistered fingers, and am too exhausted to fix anything but a bowl of snap peas for dinner I wonder why I’m farming.

But upon reflection, I realize I farm because it means I get covered in mud, smell like whey and pig doo, can’t close my aching hands for all the blisters and get to feast on fresh peas from the garden.

I grew up in the middle of the city in a townhouse on a street with a clump of 3 pine trees down the road… which I was afraid to go near for fear I’d get lost in the woods. The leap to farming was just that… a mad wild leap. One I never would have had the courage to make had I not given birth to my first daughter. We watched her grow, and desired a life we could live with her. And with eachother.

So now I get to be five everyday. Sometimes that means

Why I Farm: Beth Greenwood


Well, first, I don’t know if what I do is really farming. Out here in the west it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re raising crops, raising livestock or raising both; the tendency is to call it a ranch. There are almond ranches, prune ranches, cattle ranches, hay ranches… But on our place we have horses and pigs and cattle (milk and beef), chickens and sheep. We have orchards and ponds and fenced pastures; we cut out own wood and try to raise as much food as we can. So whatever you call us, our activities include a lot of things traditionally called farming, as well as some things that aren’t, such as the firewood business and the custom wood milling business and the free-lance writing and the blog.

As to the why: my husband grew up on an Idaho ranch, I grew up in town but was horse crazy by the time I was five. My parents were doctors who eventually bought a ranch to have a place for the horses and because it was a good investment. I only got to live there for about two years, as I got married and moved back to town. I hated it. I missed the space, the green, the wild animals.