Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Why I Farm: Back Acres Farm

What is the significance of your farm’s name—Back Acres Farm in Brown County/Georgetown?
We live in an original log cabin that settlers lived in at the end of a very long lane which is 2/10th of a mile long. We make wine for ourselves and we needed to have a name to print on the labels.
Back Acre Farms was selected due to this long lane but it is also playful because it represents our back aches from farming. In fact, our mailbox has a hunched over farmer with a pitchfork in his hand. We’ve been farming since 1979; my husband always wanted to farm since he came from a family of farmers.

Displaying photo 1 (3).jpgWhat do you grow on your farm?
We grow a wide range of produce including tomatoes, zucchini, squash, beans, cucumbers, asparagus, sweet corn, peppers and strawberries. We do a fair amount of canning and sell those products too. We also make pickles and relishes and goetta, yogurt, granola, cottage cheese, and sweet Italian meatballs. We have 30-35 cows of all ages and upwards of 300 chickens---although we’ve lost some to the hawks who have gotten into the pens. We pay a USDA facility to “harvest” (or slaughter) our animals. We purchase our chickens from a special supplier in Pennsylvania so they are not de-beaked which is important to deter cannibalism. Our eggs are pasteurized and chickens are not fed antibiotics.

What do you wish people knew about farming?
We wish people understood how much work was involved and also the expense. We bought our job for $200k in the 70s. Tractors are expensive--$12k used up to $75k for a new piece of equipment. We just bought a potato planter and we really questioned whether we would reap the benefit when selling potatoes but we’re getting older and we can’t do without it. The cost to pay someone to grind our feed is high. We need to make a living and it has to be profitable for us. We do Home Delivery in Anderson, Pleasant Ridge and Northern Kentucky. We go to the Farmer’s Market in Northside on Wednesday and College Hill on Thursday.

For us: Life is work. Work is life. We never get away from our work. It is always there. Yes, there are days when I hate it and would like to go to work in air conditioning and leave my work behind. Last night I got up at 3 a.m. to finish yogurt and switch laundry. Food preparation takes a lot of time.
It takes dedication and effort to grow without pesticides or chemicals. We could grow soybeans or GMO corn but we prefer grass-based farming. Grass-fed meat is healthier for you. It is higher in omega-3 which is good for you. We are not conventional farmers; we don’t use sprays. We even quit going to local farmers’ meetings because our approach is different. We take a lot of time to really nourish the soil itself. Healthy soil = healthy animal = healthy people. Feeding the soil so it has nutrients is really important for keeping fields in good shape. We actually put mineral salt from the South in the ground and drinking water for healthy animals. Our chickens and hogs are fed organic vegetables and raw milk and grass. Jim grinds the feed fresh weekly. We purchased Herd Shares so it is legal to drink milk from our own farm.
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What are your future plans?
We will keep doing what we are doing as long as we can. We will try to expand the business slightly, but we continue to offer Meat, Eggs, and Produce. Word-of-mouth is our best advertising. 

What social media do you have?
My son created Back Acres Facebookpage

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