DiscoverThe Thriving Farmer Podcast
The Thriving Farmer Podcast

The Thriving Farmer Podcast

Author: Michael Kilpatrick

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If you’re looking to build a profitable farm that works, The Thriving Farmer Podcast is for you. Learn the latest tricks and strategies from successful farmers, strategize with in-depth interviews with leaders in the industry, and connect with stories of farmers just like you. With over 15 years of farming background, your host Michael Kilpatrick has the experience and authority to bring you practical advice, ask the hard questions, tease out the gold nuggets, and help share what it’s really like to build a truly profitable, sustainable farm. In the interviews, we focus on building farms that last, setting up your systems, knowing your customers, building your team, and treading that ever-challenging work/family/life balance.
80 Episodes
What is The Looney Farm and what is their unique approach to the business? Carrie Chlebanowski of The Looney Farm (a Certified Naturally Grown farm), joins us today to tell us all about her and her husband Joe’s farming operation. Located in central Oklahoma near Oklahoma City, The Looney Farm started their little homestead in February of 2015 learning to raise and grow as much of their own food as possible. After closely studying market garden legends, they transitioned their homestead into a very small, but functional market garden farm. Spring of 2019 brought a 4x expansion in their farming operations, and they are now growing a wide variety of premium produce for the greater Oklahoma City metro area. As you all know, every farming operation is different, and The Looney Farm is certainly no exception. Join us today to hear all about Carrie’s unique approach to the farm biz!   You’ll hear: What’s currently going on at The Looney Farm 1:33 How much farmland The Looney Farm is working with and what kind of crops they are growing 2:24 Why Carrie decided to become a farmer 3:27 What the typical day looks like on The Looney Farm 5:41 Some strategies Carrie uses for handling the heat 7:57 How Carrie handles task management 9:21 The hardest thing Carrie has done as a farmer 12:15 How The Looney Farm communicates with their customers 14:01 About the various investments Carrie and Joe made before starting The Looney Farm 15:19 Who Carrie’s mentors in farming are 19:45 What systems Carrie would put in place sooner if she could go back in time 21:18 About Carrie’s team 23:48 What Carrie’s children’s roles are on the farm 27:10 About The Looney Farm’s key marketing tactics 29:28 The biggest mistake Carrie sees newer farmers making 35:11 How Carrie achieved the right mentality to start a farm 37:27 Carrie’s favorite farming tool 39:52 Where you can find out more about Carrie and The Looney Farm 45:03   About the Guest:Carrie is a 44 year-old reformed suburbanite who moved with her family to their 10 acre farm in February 2015. In previous lives she owned an on-location portrait business and worked in special education. Initially set up as a homestead, her family dabbled in pastured pork and poultry before diving in full gusto to market gardening in 2018. In an effort to gain the knowledge of growing vegetables and building a new ag business, she invested in intensive trainings and workshops with internationally recognized market farmers such as JM Fortier, Michael Kilpatrick, and Ray Tyler. Since then, she has made it her goal to grow the best quality, most nutrient dense vegetables possible, and in that effort The Looney Farm became the first Certified Naturally Grown farm in the OKC metro in early 2019. She hopes to learn more regenerative practices to incorporate into their model of growing in the coming seasons. Building healthy soil is one of the top priorities. Carrie and her husband Joe look forward to working together full-time soon, and find even more avenues to serve the OKC metropolitan communities through the farm. The Looney Farm currently sells at the two OKC farmers markets, a Buyers club style CSA, and through a locally sourced grocery store.   Resources:Website - Facebook - Instagram -
What is crowdfarming and how can it facilitate investments in sustainable farming? Dan Miller, founder and CEO of crowdfarming platform (TM) Steward, joins us today to talk about crowdfarming, exactly what it means, and how he implements it to best service his clients and farms. When asked about what inspired him to start Steward, Dan cites an interaction with a well-known chef in his hometown of Washington D.C. where he mentioned the difficulties facing independent farmers that supplied his restaurant. The more specialized the farms were, the harder it was to get a loan. Dan felt that instead of forcing farmers to fit within a box, it should be the other way around. So he committed himself to creating a system that empowers farmers to steward their land sustainably, with consumers—the people with the most to gain from sustainable farming—investing in their success.    You’ll hear: How the idea of Steward was conceived 1:24 What Dan was doing before Steward 2:24 How a farmer can apply for a loan with Steward 5:02 What Steward does after the farm has been funded 7:26  How Steward reaches investors 10:31 What kind of vetting a farmer should do when looking for a lender 11:57 What criteria Steward seeks when vetting farmers for loans 14:11 What systems Dan wishes farmers would put into effect sooner 18:16 How Dan chooses the right team members for Steward 21:46 The biggest mistake Dan sees newer farmers making 26:12 What farmers should avoid during their first year of farming 29:32 How Dan feels about the opportunities in starting a farm now 30:23 Where you can learn more about Dan and Steward 33:45   About the Guest:Dan Miller is the Founder and CEO of Steward, the world’s first crowdfarming platform™.  Steward enables people to invest directly in sustainable farms. Through Steward, responsible investors can earn projected returns while transforming agriculture, by equipping sustainable farmers with the capital they need to grow. Unlike traditional funding methods, Steward’s crowdfarming model creates a healthy yield for both farmers and investors: farmers purchase land and equipment, and investors earn projected returns while making a positive impact. Steward combines Dan’s background in investment crowdfunding, real estate, and technology with his passion for agriculture, stemming from his maternal family, which has been farming on the Eastern Shore of Maryland since the 1880s.   Resources:Website - - -
Are you tuned into and tending to the vast cultures and activity taking place underneath your farm? Widely renowned agroecologist, systems thinker, educator and storyteller, Nicole Masters, joins us today to impart some valuable knowledge about the often misunderstood realm of soil science. Hailing from Auckland, New Zealand, Nicole founded Integrity Soils Ltd in 2002, a company dedicated to comprehensive regeneration of our food production systems. Integrity Soils Ltd is a treasure trove of contemporary information and educational material covering the complexities of soil health, how our approach to soil has changed over the years, and how to repair damages caused by some of those approaches. If you’ve found yourself questioning the productivity of your farm’s soil, or you’d just like to safeguard and fortify your land, this is the episode for you!    You’ll hear: How Nicole’s obsession with soil began 2:22 What problems occur when chemicals in soil find their way into our waterways 4:47 How Nicole classifies soil health 10:51  What Nicole means by “enabling factors” 18:41 Why it’s important to understand the six different livestock classes in soil 22:17 How the sugars plants absorb end up feeding soil 27:03  What the roles that fulvic and humic acid play in soil health 31:46 About the current situation with the hydroponic movement 36:16 About the steps Prospect Farm in Australia took to achieve success 38:07 The fastest way to bring crops back into production on land that has historically produced those crops for long periods of time 43:15 Why Nicole recommends dribbling humic acid into furrows during the deep ripping process 45:14 What cation exchange capacity is and why it’s important 55:12 What Nicole thinks about worm production on farms 58:15 Why Canadian Thistle might not be as bad as it’s made out ot be 1.02:35 The biggest mistake Nicole sees newer farmers making 1.04:34 How important mindset and self reflection are as a farmer 1.07:39 Nicole’s favorite farming tool 1.10:40 How Nicole evaluates the present for being a time to start farming 1.11:34 Where you can learn more about Nicole and Integrity Soils 1.18:29    About the Guest:Nicole Masters is an independent agroecologist, storyteller, systems thinker and educator. She is recognized as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker on the topic of soil health. Her team of soil coaches at Integrity Soils work alongside producers in the U.S., Canada and across Australasia. Supporting producers who work with over 1.1 million acres to take their operations to the next level in nutrient density, profitability and environmental outcomes. She is one of a growing number of people who are facilitating a rapidly expanding world of quality food production and biological economies. Her book titled “For the Love of Soil” showcases examples of the tools and principles producers are using to regenerate their soils. Describing a step-by-step triage of actions, so that you too can regenerate your land.   Resources:Website - Facebook - Instagram -
Who produces modern tools that make the lives of small vegetable farmers so much easier? Ryan Thiessen of Ontario Canada joins us today to tell us how he does exactly that, and what led him to becoming the producer of such optimal tools. Thiessen Tillage Equipment was born of a need for small scale equipment on Ryan’s own mixed vegetable farm, Creek Shore Farms in St. Catharines, Ontario. After spending years making tools for himself, Ryan began making those same tools for the wider farming community in southern Ontario and has since branched out into North America. Thiessen Tillage Equipment focuses on small scale cultivation tools, undercutters and some custom fabrication work when the need arises. Tune in today to hear all about how Ryan can boost the efficiency and productivity of your small vegetable farm!   You’ll hear: About the general operation of Thiessen Tillage Equipment 0:51 About the first tools Ryan began to develop 2:54 Why you need to clear weeds on the farm 4:13 Why farmers are steering towards mechanical cultivation 7:56 The first tool Ryan takes to the field for cultivation 10:22 Which components Ryan looks to have on a walking tractor setup 20:58 What older model cultivation tractors work well, and why people are leaving them behind for newer models 33:50 What some of the newer models are and their advantages 35:51 The biggest mistakes Ryan sees in cultivation 52:33 About Ryan’s mentors in his journey in the farming industry 55:02 How one would best get started in fabrication 1.02:01 Some common mistakes Ryan sees in those new to fabrication 1.05:33 How Ryan approaches marketing 1.12:04 The biggest mistake Ryan sees new farmers making 1.13:34 What encouragement Ryan would he give himself as a new farmer if he could go back in time 1.15:50 Ryan’s favorite farming tool 1.21:53 Where you can find out more about Ryan and Thiessen Tillage Equipment 1.22:27   About the Guest: Ryan is a farm equipment designer and fabricator specializing in mechanical weed control for vineyards, orchards, and vegetable or other horticultural operations.  With 20 years of experience working on or running farms, as well as designing equipment, he combines those skills to give farmers the tools they need to combat weeds at a variety of scales.  With experience in both working in vineyards and ten years running Creek Shore Farms, Ryan understands the struggles that most farmers face in producing a successful crop.Resources:Website - www.thiessentillage.comFacebook -
Have you ever wondered what farming is like across the pond?  If so, you’re in luck because we don’t allow 4000 miles of water and considerable cultural and geographical differences slow us down in our quest for farming knowledge worldwide! Joining us today all the way from Bastogne, Belgium is Denis Morsomme of Micro-Ferme du Ponceret. Micro-Ferme du Ponceret is a vegetable farm that operates on the basis of an economic ecosystem made up of four production units: market gardening, store, cooking, and wood pyrolysis. Each unit is both independent and intimately linked to the others. Join us today to hear fascinating first-hand details of what professional Belgian farming is all about!   You’ll hear: Who Micro-Ferme du Ponceret are and what they do 0:51 How Denis got started in farming 1:36 What the setup was like at the beginning stages of Micro-Ferme du Ponceret 2:42 What the setup and production on Micro-Ferme du Ponceret currently looks like 4:03 Why Micro-Ferme du Ponceret sticks with a greenhouse, and what biochars are 7:29 How much biochar should be used in soil 10:59 What their biochar generator heats 13:59 What they use to feed the soil on their farm 16:03 What systems are in place to ensure that Micro-Ferme du Ponceret operates smoothly 19:14 About the hardest thing Denis has done as a farmer 22:26 About Denis’ mentors throughout his farming career 24:04 What systems Denis would put in place sooner if he could go back in time 26:23 How Micro-Ferme du Ponceret delegates roles for their employees 28:36 Where Micro-Ferme du Ponceret focuses their marketing 30:25 How Micro-Ferme du Ponceret goes about making and selling prepared foods 33:55 How Micro-Ferme du Ponceret approaches marketing 36:03 The biggest mistake Denis sees newer farmers making 36:41 What Denis thinks new farmers should avoid their first year 38:23 What piece of encouragement Denis would  give his past self on his first year farming 39:33 Denis’ favorite farming tool 40:01 Where you can learn more about Denis and Micro-Ferme du Ponceret 41:18   About the Guest: The Micro Ferme du Ponceet began  in 2016 in Bastogne in Belgium. They produce a wide variety of vegetables which are sold directly to their customers. Denis has a commercial background in retail business and discovered the franchise system while working in China. He thinks sharing a complete farm model, including:  production, food processing, and retail sales is an efficient way to spread regenerative agriculture practices.  Resources:Website - Facebook -
Where do you turn as a small farm when your equipment is obsolete, dilapidated, and/or difficult to replace? Joining us today is Lydell Steiner from Dalton, Ohio. He is the director of sales at Tilmor, a Marketplace for small growers, where you can develop, collaborate, source and stock tools for the small farm industry. Tilmor’s roots are of a small fourth-generation family farm with more than 50 years of experience designing and manufacturing turf and agricultural equipment. Many small growers face unique challenges and often rely on older, obsolete equipment that was developed many years ago for mechanized cultivation.Tilmor’s goal is to produce a variety of implements for planting, cultivation, harvest, post-harvest, and more. These implements are built to last and fully supported by Tilmor, making it easy to find and purchase the equipment you need to maintain your farm. If your small farm is in dire need of an upgrade, this episode will provide you with all the information you’ll need to take that step into the present and beyond! You’ll hear: What Tilmor does for their clients 0:49 How far Tilmor’s reach of operations is 2:40 Why we are seeing a shift back to mechanical cultivation 3:56 Where a farmer should start when getting into mechanical cultivation 6:45 How to build a mechanical cultivation system 9:38 How different shovels serve different functions 14:30 How Lydell approaches cultivating plastic with fingers 17:49 What Lydell sees farmers doing with some of the more challenging soil conditions 20:21 Some common mistakes Lydell sees farmers making 23:52 About Lydell’s mentors in his farming journey 27:46 How Tilmor is doing with their current team 33:38 How Tilmor communicates their vision with their employees 38:46 Where Tilmor currently focuses their marketing efforts 40:20 Where you can find out more about Tilmor’s field days 43:44 The biggest mistake Lydell sees newer farmers making 46:16 Lydell’s favorite farming tool 49:15 What kind of products Tilmor offers 50:22 What sets Tilmor apart from other cultivation companies 58:14 Where you can find out more about Lydell and Tilmor 1.02:34   About the Guest:Lydell Comes from a fourth-generation family farm (certified organic since 2006), with more than 50 years of experience designing and manufacturing turf and agricultural equipment. While operating the farm, they needed reliable, appropriately-sized, affordable tools and equipment for smaller acreage, and they couldn’t get them. Agricultural equipment manufacturers were focused on large, industrial farms, and they were left with purchasing and trying to maintain older equipment. They realized that other farmers like them must be having the same challenges...and Tilmor was born. Coming from a family of farmers, they understand the work that goes into supplying fresh vegetables, fruit, and grains to the local community. They understand the complexities of growing crops and the many decisions that need to be made each day to manage: labor, water, soil, planting, weeding, feeding, picking, cleaning, packaging, market logistics, and much more. With their decades of manufacturing experience, they’re committed to developing tools and equipment that are designed, built, and distributed for the farmers who are supplying their communities with the fresh, locally-grown goodness they’ve come to know and love. Resources: Website - Instagram - Facebook -
Who is advocating for the underserved and under-recognized women in the farming business?  Hailing from Wisconsin, Lisa Kivirist is an author, women-farmer, cottage-food activist, and highly-accomplished entrepreneur. So needless to say, she knows a thing or two about vocation diversification! Lisa is a Senior Fellow Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Minnesota, focusing on identifying opportunities to champion leadership development among female farmers and rural women.  She founded and leads the Rural Women’s Project of the Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service, an award-winning initiative championing female farmers and food-based entrepreneurs. We’ve got so very much to talk about here and not nearly enough time to do it, so don’t miss out on this info-jammed episode of the Thriving Farmer Podcast!   You’ll hear: What lured Lisa into farming? 1:44 What Lisa was aiming for when she started an organic farm 3:52 How she transitioned from farmer to farmer *and* advocate 5:24 What prompted Lisa to write ‘Soil Sisters?’ 6:26 What specific challenges women face in farming 7:32 What advantages women have in farming 11:05 What (if any) funding options women farmers have 13:14 How the Soil Sisters event began 15:47 What MOSES In Her Boots is all about 19:09 Why Lisa focuses on collaborative learning 23:39 What Lisa’s book ‘Homemade For Sale’ is all about 28:44 What steps most states require you to take in order to go through with food product development 32:31 How Lisa ensures her products stand out in the market 34:00 Some of the cottage food entrepreneurs Lisa has worked with and their projects 38:18  What happened with Lisa’s lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin about the ban of baked goods sales 41:04 About the biggest opportunities for farmers in 2020 46:10 The biggest mistake Lisa sees newer farmers making 49:08 The scoop with Lisa’s new bakery 52:02 What Lisa’s favorite farming tool is 57:16 Where you can find out more about Lisa and her work 58:23   About the Guest:Farmer, author, agriculture advocate, innkeeper, parent, passionate food preserver and zucchini enthusiast. Lisa Kivirist thrives on wearing multiple hats under the sustainable agriculture umbrella, deeply rooted and based on her family's farm in southwestern Wisconsin. Resources: Instagram -
How does a chef become the founder of a restaurant, farming, and catering enterprise? Ken Myszka has shown us that while it’s not easy, it’s certainly doable! Well equipped with impressive culinary experience and a vision for a sustainable farm/restaurant, Ken founded the Epiphany Farms Enterprise in Bloomington, Illinois. His mission is to create a diversified, pasture-based food system that blends beyond organic farming with impeccable food. Ken sees Epiphany Farms as a catalyst for social change. With each experience at providing warm hospitality comes an opportunity to educate about the importance of alternatives to the conventional restaurant industry.  Epiphany Farms now stewards 75 acres of land, operates 5 restaurants and a special events business with 7 venues, and farm to table catering service. Tune in to hear all the fascinating details about what he does and how he does it!   You’ll hear: What Epiphany Farms is all about 0:53 How Ken got into this business 2:09 What a typical day for Ken looks like 15:41 What kinds of products Epiphany Farms produces 17:23 What they offer in their on-farm catering events 20:56 What kind of things Ken built into his new farm property 24:06 How Ken manages to stay focused on the vital tasks on the farm 27:57 The hardest thing Ken has done since starting Epiphany Farms 30:00 Who Ken’s mentors are 33:49 What systems Ken would implement sooner given the chance to turn back time 34:44 How Ken delegates roles to his team 36:49 How Ken went about hiring and retaining his large network of employees 39:45 Why Ken practices open book accounting 51:34 How Ken built the marketing machine for Epiphany Farms  54:23 The differences in marketing approaches between Ken’s restaurants 56:15 About the pros of the vertically integrated farm 1.00:09 The biggest mistake Ken sees newer farmers making 1.05:19  What piece of encouragement Ken would go back and give his past self 1.08:33 How the regulations in the state of Illinois have impacted business 1.13:28 About Ken’s goal for the next 10 years 1.19:04 Ken’s favorite farming tool 1.22:53 Where to find out more about Ken and Epiphany Farms Enterprise 1.28:05    About the Guest: Ken R. Myszka is a professionally trained chef, entrepreneur, sustainable farmer, restaurant owner, and CEO who hails from Downs, IL.  Ken has been trained at the Culinary Institute of New York and has a B.A from the University of Las Vegas.   While in Las Vegas, he worked in the elite kitchens of renowned hotels including Restaurant Guy Savoy and Bradley Ogden at Cesar’s Palace, and Bouchon at the Venetian. Throughout his career Ken trained with many other notable chefs and has worked in recognized restaurants from all over the U.S.   Ken’s return to the Bloomington area brought Epiphany Farms Hospitality Group with a working sustainable farm, event space, and 5 amazing farm to table restaurants.  Ken is committed to supporting, growing, and showcasing a thriving local food culture, in an effort to re-envision the current culinary landscape.   Resources:Website - Facebook - Instagram -,
What does a land designer do, and how can they rejuvenate farms and set them up to thrive? Joining us today on the Thriving Farmer Podcast is Javan Bernakevitch. Javan is a skilled landscape designer, as well as a practitioner in providing peace of mind for farmers. In his company, All Points Land Design, Javan works collaboratively with homesteaders, organizations, and families creating regenerative landscapes and livelihoods. On the principle that no project is completed in isolation, he sources the best collaborators for each project, assembling a team unique to the demands of your unique landscape and/or the vision of your life. This approach saves farmers time and money while producing a superior design and more abundant landscape. Tune in today to hear all the ins and outs of land designing, his philosophy that drives it, the importance of values-based decision making, and much more!   You’ll hear: What Javan has been focusing on most recently 0:58 How Javan got started in land design 3:09 How COVID-19 has changed the landscape of Javen’s work and how he operates 7:17 About Javan’s philosophy around land design 10:52 What differences Javan sees between the projects he works on 23:24 About some of Javan’s most memorable projects 29:18 How the changing climate has impacted the methods of land design 35:52 What Javan finds frustrating about how many farmers design their farms 40:07 What systems Javan wishes farmers would put into action sooner 44:17 How people can best figure out what they’re “designed” for 49:35 What holistic context is, according to Javan, and how he integrates it into his work 54:08 About some simple ways farmers can slow down, de-stress, and think a bit more about their work 59:21 The biggest mistake Javan sees newer farmers making 1.10:32 What common mistakes Javan sees advanced farmers making 1:14.47 About the biggest challenge farmers are facing these days 1.19:28 How the Facing Fire documentary came about 1.26:55 Why we are seeing an increase in wildfires in recent years 1.28:24 What Javan’s favorite farming tool is 1.35:44 Javan’s thought on whether or not now is a good time to start a farm 1.38:10 Where you can find out more about Javan and All Points Land Design 1.39:51   About the Guest: Javan Bernakevitch has worked across coastal and interior British Columbia, Canada, The Unites States of America (North West and North Central), Cuba, Kenya and Uganda on land based project design, management, training and installation. His career focus on regenerative retrofits of broad acre and small scale landscapes to re-establish working watersheds, ecosystems, productive landscapes and enterprises has taken him across North and Central America, Europe and Africa. Integrating Keyline Design, Holistic Management, Permaculture, the Soil Food Web, Myco-Integration with creating local profitable enterprise. He understands and emphasizes the importance of biological systems: soil, water-harvesting, landscape rehydration, composting, growing food, greywater and biological waste-water treatment. The originator of Cultivated Life Design he works with clients focusing their lives to bring regenerative enterprises and productive landscapes to life. He operates Permaculture BC ( an education and community hub for permaculture in British Columbia and All Points Land Design focusing on land design and installation. As a speaker for community events, non-profit groups and businesses Javan inspires and empowers audiences with a passion for change. He has been invited to guest lecture by the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Vancouver Island University, Simon Fraser University and recent partnerships include Cowichan Green Community, Seven Ravens Permaculture Academy and the Galliano Conversation Association. Resources:Website - - , Thriving Farmer Pop-up Swag Shop -
Who can you turn to for comprehensive information and assistance if your farm has produced one too many lackluster harvests? We are honored to have John Kempf, the founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture, with us today on the Thriving Farmer Podcast! AEA is a leading plant nutrition and biostimulants consulting company. John is a top expert in the field of biological and regenerative farming. In 2006, he founded AEA to help fellow farmers by providing the education, tools, and strategies that will have a global effect on the food supply and those who are growing that supply. In today’s episode, we’ll dive deep into the fine scientific details on what makes the most healthy, fertile, and productive soil so that you may truly reap what you sow! We’ll discuss managing PH and magnesium levels, proper compost application and so much more. Whether you are a small, mid-sized or large farming operation, tuning into this episode is certain to level up your farming game!   You’ll hear: What Advancing Eco Agriculture is all about 1:20 How John got started in farming 2:25 About the overarching principles of Advancing Eco Agriculture 5:18 About sap analysis and if it will become more mainstream in the coming years 8:51 How John manages soil testing 14:32 How to approach soil analysis for your unique farm situations 18:44 What (if any) types of crops act as indicators which warrant testing more than others 23:47 About the beginning steps to ensuring healthy soil in croplands 31:32 About the differences in procedure for smaller scale farms 37:00 John’s take on salt accumulation in protected cultures 42:32 How John manages short-term/long-term soil feeding 46:43 How often John recommends farmers do soil tests 49:43 How John goes about tackling high PH levels 51:38 How John goes about tackling high magnesium levels 53:58 About John’s preferences in terms of compost application 56:24 Why John opts to use compost tea in lieu of traditional compost 1.00:30 What questions farmers aren’t asking that they probably should be 1.02:49 Who John’s mentors were in his farming journey 1.06:19 What practices John would have liked to see the farmers he works with set into motion sooner 1.10:40 What John thinks about the concept of “too much” organic matter 1.13:58 John’s take on risk management in farming 1.16:07 What strategies AEA implements to hire the right help  1.21:39 The biggest mistake John sees new farmers making 1.26:58 What simple things advanced farmers practice to be more profitable 1.30:20 What new farmers should avoid 1.33:57 John’s favorite farming tool 1.34:35 John’s thoughts on the best time to start a farm 1.36:24 Where to find more about John and AEA 1.44:02   About the Guest: John Kempf is a leading crop health consultant and designer of innovative soil and plant management systems. John is the founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture.   John, a member of the Amish community, grew up on a fruit and vegetable farm in Northeast Ohio and experienced first hand the challenges faced by many crop producers. Growing fresh market vegetables since 1994, John witnessed intensifying disease and insect pressure on crops which gradually failed to respond to the usual pesticide treatments.​ John’s mission is to provide support to the world’s farmers and globally impact our food supply. He founded Advancing Eco Agriculture in 2006, which has quickly become a leader in the area of soil and plant nutrition. To learn more about John, visit his LinkedIn profile.   Resources:Websites -, Facebook - LinkedIn - YouTube -
What course of action can a farm take if they’re being strong-armed by a local privatized bureaucracy?  Mark Baker of Baker’s Green Acres in Marion, Michigan joins us today to share his story. Baker’s Green Acres provides high quality meat products raised in the most natural way possible. Pasture feeding is a main component of their methods to produce the best tasting, "cleanest" meat they can.  Using these methods, they raise GMO free and pasture raised pork, chicken, and beef. However, Mark’s farming journey wasn’t all green pastures, daisies, and prancing animals under a smiling sun. Tune into this episode to hear a chilling reality of the Department of Agriculture and what you can do if you’re ever faced with a similar situation!   You’ll hear: How Mark got into farming 1:32 What Baker’s Green Acres offers 3:51 The story behind Baker’s Green Acres’ special pork breed 5:45 The end result of a confrontation with local bureaucrats 25:24 About the grounds for the warrant brought to Mark in December, 2017 41:59 Where to go to read more about a how you can safeguard your constitutional rights 58:52 The biggest mistakes Mark sees newer farmers making 1.11:47 About Mark’s favorite farming tool 1.32:00 Where you can find out more about Mark and Baker’s Green Acres 1.32:57   About the Guest:Mark Baker started his Anyone Can Farm dream when he was a boy and rode to a farm with his mother to pick up vegetables. When he and Jill married nearly 25 years ago, they started Baker’s Green Acres with a backyard garden that quickly grew to include hens, a goat, and pigs.  He’s always considered home grown food to be a birthright and a means of better health. When these things were challenged by a government agency order, Mark discovered the value of the Bill of Rights to safeguard our freedom to farm and live a healthy lifestyle.   Resources: Website - Facebook - Instagram -
How would you go about running and maintaining a USDA certified vegetable farm using tunnels to grow your crops? Jason Hirtz of Box Turtle Farm in Mount Vernon, Missouri joins us today to discuss what he does and why he does it the way he does it! Box Turtle Farm passionately believes that consumers deserve the choice to feed their families the best food possible. Jason shares with us the ins and outs of his modern tunnel systems, the specifics of the biosolarization methods, seeding techniques (and much more), in order to reap only the richest, freshest, and healthiest organic crops in town!    You’ll hear: What Box Turtle Farm is all about 0:45 What Jason did before farming 2:44 What working at Box Turtle Farm was like in the beginning 5:59  Why Box Turtle started using tunnels 7:10 Why they began using smaller tunnels 9:59  How crop rotation works with the tunnels 11:13 What  they seed with 14:43 How Jason keeps the soil saturated 19:39 How Jason is looking to expand his operation and further modernize it 23:18 What tip Jason gives for someone putting up their first growing tunnel 28:57 Where Jason sources his tunnels from 31:06 How many crop turns they typically get in each tunnel per year 33:18 How Box Turtle does their harvesting and potential future plans for the harvesting process 39:25 How Jason washes and packs the crops 44:06 What a typical day looks like on Box Turtle Farm 48:54 Who Jason’s mentors were on his farming journey 58:04 What systems Jason would put in place earlier given the opportunity to start again 59:48 Why Box Turtle doesn’t deal in clam shells 1.02:31 How Jason is handling promotions for Box Turtle Farm 1.05:03 The biggest mistake Jason sees new farmers making 1.06:38 Jason’s favorite farming tool 1.09:01 Where you can find out about Jason and Box Turtle Farm 1.10:47   About the Guest: Box Turtle Farm started on a suburban lot outside of St. Louis in 2009, growing vegetables for farmers’ markets and a small CSA. In 2011, they moved to our current location in Mount Vernon, MO, in order to expand our operation. In 2013, they were able to certify their products USDA organic and are inspected annually to maintain this certification. They strive to produce the best possible vegetables, usually harvesting within two days of delivery.  In addition to growing salad mixes year-round, they also grow bunched greens and other field crops seasonally.  Their bagged greens include Spring Mix, Avant Gardener, MaMa Jean’s Greens (a signature mix only available at MaMa Jean’s), Arugula, Baby Kale, and Spinach.   Resources: Website - Facebook - Instagram -
How do you carve out a solid market for pasture raised chicken in a crowded marketplace? Jeremiah Vernon of Vernon Family Farm in Newfields, New Hampshire joins us today to share how he is proving the value of good old fashioned unmodified food to his community. Vernon Family Farm has gone from moving 1200 chickens to 20000 in just six years, while maintaining optimal operations.  Jeremiah shares about his background, how they have scaled their on-farm store and now event space, and how they have diversified with the chicken to grow their sales and customer base. Join us for this episode to hear all about what Jeremiah does, how he does it, and the heart he does it with!   You’ll hear: How Vernon Family Farm ended up focusing on chickens 1:15 If Jeremiah recommends working as a farmhand before starting your own farm 2:49 What Jeremiah was looking for when buying land 4:12 What Jeremiah focused on first when building his farm 5:33 What a typical day on Vernon Family Farm looks like 8:00 About the logistics of hauling the birds 10:40 What systems Jeremiah put into place to ensure optimal operation 12:07 How climate impacts the farm 14:58 About the hardest thing Jeremiah has done as a farmer  17:21 How Jeremiah improves work/life balance 18:19 Who Jeremiah’s mentors were during his farming journey 20:06 What became of Vernon Family Farm’s mushroom and pork operations 25:33 What systems he’d implement sooner if Jeremiah were to start over 28:21 How Jeremiah delegates roles on the farm 30:56 How Jeremiah establishes positive relationships with workers 32:38 How Jeremiah found his employees 35:32 What Vernon Family Farm does for marketing 38:06 What percentage of the business is wholesale to distributor 39:49 What specific product varieties Vernon Family Farm focuses on 42:29 How Jeremiah got started with rotisserie chicken 44:26 How Jeremiah charges for having other farmers use his facilities 50:08 When Jeremiah realized that his business model was working 51:07 How Jeremiah started with value added products 53:54 The biggest mistake Jeremiah sees newer farmers making 56:20 About Jeremiah’s favorite farming tool 57:58 Jeremiah’s thoughts on whether or not now is a good time to start a farm 1.00.35 Where you can find more about Jeremiah and Vernon Family Farm 1.03:15   About the Guest:Jeremiah Vernon is a 10th generation New Hampshire native. He grew up in New London, NH on his family farm on Pingree Rd. and has always had a love for animals and the outdoors. He graduated from Proctor Academy and received his Bachelor of Science from Bates College, earning a degree in Biology. Post-college, Jeremiah worked on Nezinscot Farm in Turner ME, where he fell in love with farming and his wife, Nicole Vernon. He has farmed land on the Seacoast of NH for over 10 years. He is passionate about the land his family owns now on the Seacoast, which happens to be in the same school district where his wife teaches and children are schooled. Resources: Website - Facebook - Instagram -
Who can you turn to when you need assistance in the business side of farming?  Our guest today, Mark Cannella, of Vermont, is here to share exactly how he fills that role and helps farmers through precarious financial times and situations. Mark has been working in the field of agriculture for over ten years. He has managed farm operations in vegetable production, maple sugaring, and agricultural education. His current focus is the management and delivery of farm business planning programs, business management training, and farm economic research. Listening to what Mark has to say has never been more important than it is in these economically turbulent times, so keep a sharp ear on this one!   You’ll hear: What Mark is working on these days 1:49 Some basic steps farms can take to stay stable during unstable times 3:04 What the CARES act does to boost farms and other businesses 9:08 How farm credit can mesh with PPP loans 13:40 What can realistically be claimed under CARES 18:07 What other details should people be aware of? 21:34  Where you can get the latest information in these rapidly changing economic times 25:02  What you need to know about the Economic Injury Disaster Loan 26:34   About the Guest: Mark Cannella is an Associate Professor and Farm Business Management Specialist with the University of Vermont Extension.  He currently directs UVM Extension Agricultural Business programs with a focus on the management and delivery of farm and forest business planning programs, financial analysis and applied business research to a broad audience. Mark works directly on maple economics projects throughout the Northeastern United States. Resources:Website: CARES Act info: Fact Sheet: Details on Sole Proprietor Owner Benefits:
What goes into owning and operating a farm that grows over 250 varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers year-round?  Veteran four-season farmer Andre Cantelmo of South Hampton, New Hampshire joins us today to deliver an in-depth answer to that question plus much more! Heron Pond Farm began the year-round farming business in 1998, allowing them to grow and maintain an incredibly skilled and experienced staff whose passion brings higher yields, quality, and flavor to their food all year long. Tune in to this episode to hear invaluable tips and insights from rock solid experience on how to thrive 365!   You’ll hear: How Andre got into farming 1:34 How Andre went about scaling up his business 4:49 What method Andre uses for growing tomatoes 13:14 What specialized equipment Heron Pond has used to scale 16:44 What kind of yield Andre is getting with carrot crops 23:35 What periods of the carrot’s life cycle require specific attention 25:14 How Andre’s approach to farming has evolved over time 41:26 How baby greens affect farm soil 49:50 What Andre typically follows root crops with 52:39 How Andre gets high yields on his potato crops 53:56 What Andre’s current favorite potato varieties are 59:27 What environmental challenges Heron Pond faces on coastal New Hampshire 1.06:29 About the Guest: In 1998 Heron Pond Farm began on a small two-acre rented plot of land at David Bachelder’s farm. The Farm has been growing and changing ever since, with the goal of becoming a permanent part of the landscape in southern Rockingham County. Through the very generous help of James and Jocelyn VanBokkelen a more permanent home was found in South Hampton the following year. Then in 2000 the Farm came into its current form when Walter and Blanche Syvinki retired from Valley Acres Farm and turned operations over to Greg Balog and Andre Cantelmo. The VanBokkelen's commitment to open space has kept the land available, while the Syvinskis have been valued mentors in New England small farm practices. It takes a village to raise a child so it should come as no surprise that it has taken a mix of all these folks to make Heron Pond Farm what it is today. Heron Pond Farm is owned and operated by Greg Balog and Andre Cantelmo. Friends from college where they studied soil science, they have been a team for twenty years. Heron Pond is a four season farm that grows over 250 varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. Farming year-round has allowed us to grow and maintain an incredibly skilled and experienced staff whose passion brings higher yields, quality, and flavor to our food all year long.   Resources:Website - Instagram - Facebook -
How do you thrive and stay thriving as a small family-run, fully-diversified, year-round organic fruit and vegetable farm?  Robert Arnold, son of Pleasant Valley Farm founders Paul and Sandy Arnold, joins us today to speak about the farm and the role he plays in keeping it thriving! Pleasant Valley Farm runs everything like a business by focusing on efficiency, lean principles, customer-driven marketing practices, constant improvements, crop research, and use of cutting edge technology. Robert is largely responsible for the cutting edge technology part. Join us today to hear all about how Robert infuses traditional farming operations with modern tech to great effect! You’ll hear: What it’s like on Pleasant Valley Farm 0:34 What the COVID-19 shutdown is like for Pleasant Valley Farm 3:06 What Airtable is and why Robert uses it to boost farm efficiency 5:31 How Pleasant View Farm is handling pre-orders and home deliveries 10:11 Why Robert chose Local Line over other distribution softwares 12:05 How Robert goes about ensuring customers know how to properly use the farm’s systems? 14:08 How the implementation of new systems has changed harvest/pack procedures 16:51 How these procedures have impacted sales? 18:28 Some of the drawbacks of Local Line? 28:53 Robert’s advice for farmers thinking about making the pivot to ecommerce? 37:40 How Robert implements farm tech installation into his business 41:03 About the Guest:Born and raised on one of the most well known, profitable, small organic vegetable farms in the country, Pleasant Valley Farm (Paul & Sandy Arnold, Argyle, NY), Robert spent most of his childhood and early adult life being immersed in what it takes to farm successfully. Handling everything from weeding, tractor operation, finances, to sales, Robert took his unique scope of detail-oriented small-scale farming and extensive technical training and founded Smart Farm Innovations while still at college in 2016. Resources: Pleasant Valley Farm Website - Smart Farm Innovations Website - Pleasant Valley Farm Instagram - Smart Farm Innovations Instagram -  Pleasant Valley Farm Facebook - Smart Farm Innovations Facebook - Local Line -
How can you establish yourself as an elderberry expert and run a reputable farm and business using that expertise?  Missouri’s Terry Durham, of River Hills Harvest joins us today to detail exactly why elderberries are such a hot topic in farming. River Hills ensures top quality elderberry products by growing in small batches, giving only the utmost care and attention into each and every harvest. Their growers have committed to the health and wellbeing of their produce, their farms, and their communities. If you’re looking to take part in the booming opportunity presented by US elderberry farming, or maybe you’re just interested in the process, this episode will not disappoint!    You’ll hear: What got Terry into the elderberry business 1:28 What’s so special about elderberries 2:57 What soil types elderberries grow best in 5:02 How to approach the elderberry business 8:34 What elderberry harvest care looks like 10:04 What tools River Hills Harvest uses to manage their elderberry harvests 13:46 How people use and sell elderberry flowers 23:11 What you need to get set up with elderberry farming 26:03 What systems Terry has in place to ensure optimal operation on the farm 32:00 How Terry divides roles on his team and how he finds the right people 36:33 Where Terry focuses his marketing 40:09 The biggest mistake Terry sees newer elderberry farmers make 44:02 Where you can learn more about Terry’s work and River Hills Harvest 48:42   About the Guest: Terry is the Elderberry Man -- he raises elderberries, and turns berries into a line of products made from the 100% Pure Premium Elderberry Juice. But more importantly, Terry raises growers! Elderberry is easy to get started, is a long-lived perennial that bears a crop within 2 to 3 years of initial planting and is easily integrated into other farming activities. And it's healthy -- noted for immunity boosting and reducing duration of colds and flu. Therefore a rising star in the super-fruit world of high anthocyanin fruits. Terry is an educator and often speaks at Mother Earth News Fairs and other venues of similar popularity. Terry is appearing at several winter farm shows, including the Mid-America Organic Association Conference & Trade Show in January in Independence, MO.   Resources:Website - Facebook - Instagram - YouTube -
What is it like to be the owner and operator of a fruit farm that has grown and continues to grow only top-grade, environmentally sustainable fruit for three generations strong? Mount Hood, Oregon’s own Katrina McAlexander joins us today to passionately convey the true value and impact a committed family farm is capable of having on a community. Community over competition is their motto. Hospitality and generosity are inseparable from the values at Mt. View Orchards, and it shows! Taking the business beyond just fruit, Mt View Orchards also offers ciders and premium alcoholic libations. Katrina will walk us through the challenging yet boundlessly rewarding life of a community fruit farmer today on the Thriving Farmer Podcast!  You’ll hear: What Mt. View Orchards is all about 1:07  How Katrina got started in farming 1:56 How Mt. View’s focus has evolved in its 100+ years of operation 3:29 How the weather in Mount Hood works in conjunction with Mt. View’s operations 5:26 What a typical day in Katrina’s life looks like 6:47 When Katrina got started in fermentation 11:03 How Mt.View inspires agro tourism 16:47 What goes on at Mt. View’s pavilion 21:13 How Mt. View got started doing weddings 24:05 Tips on holding on-farm events 26:13 The price of farmland per acre in Mount Hood 29:46  About Mt. View’s mascot? 31:59  How Katrina utilizes flowers in her business 33:18  How Katrina prioritizes tasks on her farm 35:23 About the apple growing environment at Mt. View 37:45 Who mentored Katrina on her path to fruit farming mastery 42:37 How Katrina adapted to coming back to the farm 45:17 How Katrina delegates tasks on the farm 54:39 Where Katrina looks to hire help 57:15 What Katrina would change if she could turn back time 58:46 How Katrina goes about marketing 1.05:35 Katrina’s favorite farming tool 1.14:56  Where you can find out more about Katrina and Mt. View Orchards 1.16:13 About the guest:Katrina and her family operate Mt. View Orchards, a 50-acre apple and pear farm nestled just north of Mt. Hood in the quaint town of Parkdale, Oregon. For over fifty years, Katrina’s family has raised delicious, top-grade, environmentally sustainable fruit, establishing Mt. View as an important fruit grower in the Hood River Valley and Columbia Gorge region. They are 3 generations strong, caring deeply about growing fresh fruit for their community. Mt. View Orchards also distributes to local and regional businesses and eateries, and participates in a wide range of community partnerships. They believe passionately in the value and benefit of the family farm in a community and do all they can to sustain their contribution in the Hood River Valley and beyond! Resources:
The most infectious, catastrophic, and potentially, most deadly pandemic of recent history is upon us. Quarantines and strict precautionary practices are quickly blindsiding people and businesses around the world…far from least of which are farmers. With cascading closings of restaurants, farmers markets, bars/breweries, etc, the source of a farmers’ struggle is no mystery. However, between the myriad of challenges, there is opportunity not only to prosper, but to substantially alleviate real burdens and boost your community during these hard times with healthy, immune system-supporting food. The time is now. You CAN make a lasting difference in people’s lives!  In this special episode, I’ll discuss what to do, what not to do, and how you can continue to thrive during this pandemic. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay prosperous! We’re rooting for you! Also, be sure to check out for rigorously updated tips, pointers, and examples of how farmers are continuing to thrive amidst the chaos.    You’ll hear: What’s going on out there?! 3:08 How to leverage the situation in your farming business 5:49 How you can move forward and thrive in the short term 7:23
Where does one begin to crack the mystery of producing the most enriching, potent, and fertile compost around?  Vermont’s own Karl Hammer joins us today to shed some light on this multi-millennium-spanning mystery. Karl began experimenting with composting and field soil management on his Vershire, Vermont hill farm in the 1970s. Well over 40 years later, the operations of Vermont Compost Company have been refined to an art and a science, filling the needs of farmers and alleviating some of the biggest challenges organic growers face. Tune in to today’s episode and soak up some of the most impactful knowledge in modern composting and soil production!    You’ll hear: What Vermont Compost Company is all about 1:55 How they approach logistics for materials 12:21 How long the composting process takes from start to finish 18:20 What sets Fort Vee, Karl’s flagship product, apart from typical compost 21:17 About the benefits of compost vs. a soilless mix 26:06 How to deal with pests in your compost piles 31:02 Why Vermont Compost Company’s composting operation isn’t often replicated 40:11 Who Karl’s mentors were in his business 51:52 What Karl would do differently if he could start over 1.00:02 What Karl sees as the biggest mistakes new farmers are making 1.13:13 If Karl will be offering education/training on composting in the future 1.23:50 Where you can learn more about Karl and Vermont Compost Company 1.26:55   About the Guest:Karl’s fascination with farming, commitment to composting, and sensitivity to soil health began over forty years ago. He first started experimenting with composting and field soil management on his Vershire, Vermont hill farm in the 1970s. In the process of transitioning from dairy farming and commercial vegetable production, Karl started his first commercial composting business in the 1980s. The evolution of Vermont Compost Company brought operations to its current Montpelier location in 1993. Karl is a farmer, a compost specialist, and a humus connoisseur. A comprehensive understanding of soil and plant science, combined with practical farming experience, allow Karl to understand the needs and challenges organic growers face. Recognized as a pioneer in the field, Karl is committed to crafting consistent, living, compost-based soil mixes to ensure grower success and the revitalization of soil health.   Resources:
Comments (2)

Ryan Slyzuk

Great content Michael! Thanks for stepping up and filling the giant void left after Chris' passing and the end of the Farmer to Farmer pod. Keep the torch lit!

Jul 9th

Jake Caron

Great to have this podcast from In the Field Consultants! Looking forward to learning from the guests that are hosted on it.

Mar 9th
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