Over the winter, we interviewed farmers across the country in an effort to highlight both the challenges and triumphs of sustainable farmers across the country. Join us as we delve in to discover what it means to be a farmer in the 21st century.
Menno Beiler and his wife Rebecca are Amish farmers who raise animals and grow a variety of fruits and vegetables on their twenty-acre Fairview Fruit Farm in Ronks, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Menno does not use a computer, so he wrote the answers below by hand which were then emailed to us by the farm's web manager. Keeping with Amish custom, Menno also does not pose for photos, so we have included a photo of the farm to accompany this interview.
What do you grow/raise on your farm?
A full line of vegetables
How many acres do you farm?
What does your farm produce in a year?
Four acres of apples, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, cherries
Two acres of vegetables
Balance in grass for cows and free-range hens and ducks, and corn for chickens and pigs
Describe your local food community in four words.
"They really watch us." (The likes of our farm is not popular, yet, in this locality.)
What is your favorite aspect of farming?
Talking and sharing ideas with happy customers, family and workers (including the Fairview Animal Workforce).
How did you decide to get into growing food/raising animals? What did you do before you got into farming?
I always dreamed of a medicine that helps for every illness: "It was found long ago but rediscovered recently." It was "raw milk from 100% grass fed cows living on naturally mineralized soil." I worked on the farm since day one.
What's a typical day in the life on your farm?
A typical day on our farm is very busy with lots of animal and soil interaction. It is a vocation we would not trade for any other.
What could the government do to help establish a more sustainable food system?
In order for the government to give us a more sustainable food system, they need to get out totally! Farmers that sell to consumers do a much better job of promoting healthy food at reasonable prices if the big guys don't receive grants and other government subsidies, and if supply and demand only rules the food prices.