This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit one of our current intern’s farms in upstate New York, Kilpatrick Family Farm. Michael Kilpatrick and his family run a sizeable CSA and do several farmers markets each week. As we walked their property, I saw rows upon rows of colorful and well-cared for vegetables gracing the landscape. A dairy cow munched happily on grass in her paddock. Laying hens, dairy goats, turkeys – they were all there. Multiple greenhouses were full of tomatoes, peppers – even ginger!
I was blown away by the talent and commitment of each of the Kilpatrick siblings – they are a fine testament to young farmers. I was in a bit of a jealous awe of all they’ve accomplished. I asked Michael how he got started – how had he gotten where he is today? He told me he started with a few ducks – and I remembered once again that the theme of most successful farmers is that they were willing to start small.
Speaking of farmers who are willing to start small, for the past few years I’ve been reading the Cold Antler Farm blog by Jenna Woginrich. Yep, insert some more of that jealous awe right here, because Jenna is doing this, this farming thing, on her own and out of the sheer love of it, and I think that is just plain incredible. She shares the successes and joys of her farm but she’s not afraid to tell you about the blood, sweat and tears that it requires. With Jenna, you know she’s going to write it like it is and yet still have you believing you can live your dream with a little blood, sweat and tears, too.
As luck would have it, Michael knows Jenna personally and she welcomed us to stop by her place on Sunday morning. I was a bit beside myself, and I probably opened the car door before Michael had even put it in park. To anyone who’s ever wanted to change their career and start farming, she’s a hero. And the best part about her? She wouldn’t want you to call her a hero. She’s just doing what she loves, what she believes in. She graciously spent time walking her property with us, introducing us to the sheep, horses, goats, and farm dogs, and sharing the stories and personalities of each. It really was magic, being there and talking with her.
Who is a farmer you look up to and why?