Why I Farm (or Homestead)

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,