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.
115 Episodes
What is MarketLink and how can you use it to leverage your farm’s profitability and help your community at the same time? Joining us for this special bonus episode of the Thriving Farmer Podcast is Amy Crone, Project Manager of MarketLink. MarketLink is a program of the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Program (NAFMNP). In partnership with the USDA and Novo Dia Group, MarketLink assists direct marketing farmers and farmers markets with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Retailer Application and connects them with free app-based SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) processing equipment (TotilPayGo). Marketlink also offers options for integrated credit/debit payment processing. They have a long-term vision of sustainability for farmers and markets through a broader customer base, increased sales, and profitability. Tune in for in-depth detail regarding a great way for your farm to get more local food into your communities!   You’ll hear: What MarketLink does 1:39 Who qualifies for this program 3:03 How a farmer or farmers market should go about getting set up with the program 6:12 The most commonly asked questions about MarketLink, and Amy’s answers to them 7:48 What the typical consumer asks about the SNAP program 9:34 What type of sales a typical farmers market sees through SNAP 12:04 The best practices in setting up the program to get buy in from customers 14:20 What things you should be aware of when starting up with this program 16:25   About the Guest: Amy Crone is the Project Manager for MarketLink, a national initiative developed in collaboration with USDA to increase acceptance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at farmers markets. MarketLink, a program of NAFMNP, is the only app-based means of accepting SNAP available, & since its start in 2013 has enabled sales of more than $43m in SNAP and more than $95m nationwide in overall electronic sales by farmers markets and direct marketing farmers. Formerly, she was the Executive Director of the Maryland Farmers Market Association (“MDFMA”), a nonprofit organization that she founded in 2012. Crone is a nationally recognized expert on federal nutrition assistance programs, who has experience in speaking to a variety of audiences across the country about farmers market and agricultural issues. She lives on a small farm in Maryland with her husband and two children.   Resources:MarketLink Website - Facebook - Instagram -
Have you ever considered embarking on your dream farming journey solo? On today's episode, we’re joined by Jackson Holt, the owner/operator of Phoenix Farm, located in McLeansville, NC. He grows fruits, vegetables, and plant starts without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, and offers his products to the local community in North Carolina to be picked up on-farm. Amazingly, he runs the entire operation practically by himself, while still keeping up with premium farming standards and procedures. Tune in to find out how he pulls it off!    You’ll hear: How Jackson got started in farming 1:21 What Jackson’s vision was when starting his farming operation 3:09 How Jackson stays organized on the farm 4:57 What systems Jackson has in place on the farm 6:37 Why Jackson focuses on carrots 11:35 How Jackson prepares soil for growing carrots 16:08 What Jackson does to ensure efficient germination 20:53 What his cultivation process looks like 23:47 What he uses for seeding 26:45 What time of the year he starts harvesting carrots 33:33 Why Jackson feels that it’s important to tone down operations during the wintertime 34:58 What Jackson would change at the start of his farming journey if given the opportunity 38:34 How long Jackson’s been farming 44:09 What advice Jackson would give himself as a new farmer 46:15 About the range of crops Jackson grows and how that has changed over time 47:16 What kind of farmers market Jackson runs 55:15 Jackson’s favorite farming tool 58:55 Where you can find out more about Jackson and Phoenix Farm 59:43 About the Guest:Jackson Holt is owner/operator of Phoenix Farm, a small operation just outside city limits of Greensboro, NC, where he grows a mix of vegetables (with emphasis on carrots) primarily for a local farmer's market.   Resources:Website - Facebook - Instagram -
Most of us know that farms can be very scenic, serene, and fun! Have you ever considered monetizing that atmosphere to recharge the batteries of travel-worn RVers?  This week, Lisa Manning, head of member success, joins us to talk about what she and Harvest Hosts do for the community. Harvest Hosts’ goal is to change the way RVers adventure. They offer a truly unique way for RVers to meet other travelers, stay overnight in gorgeous settings, and create memories that can’t be made in a retail parking lot. Join us today to learn all about how Lisa and Harvest Hosts have made farm serenity a revitalizing attraction!   You’ll hear: How Harvest Hosts started 1:47 How Harvest Hosts works 3:06 The primary demographic of members 5:45 What types of farms they have for host locations and what makes them a good fit 6:36 How space is managed for the RVs 8:38 How Harvest Hosts impacts the towns where they’re located 9:58 How to apply to be a host 15:25 What’s new and exciting at Harvest Hosts 18:50 Statistics and demographics involved with Harvest Hosts 24:22   About the Guest:Harvest Hosts connects thousands of RVers with farms, wineries, breweries, golf courses, & attractions to support local businesses. Always FREE for our hosts!   Resources:Website - Facebook - Instagram - YouTube -
Is your personal farming hobby outgrowing your need for crops? Ever thought of monetizing the surplus?  Our guests this week sure have, and they took it a couple steps further as they grew a full thriving farm! This week’s Thriving Farmer Podcast proudly features Lex and Beth Antoinc of Providence Hill Farm. Providence Hill Farm is a family run regenerative vegetable farm nestled in the heart of King Township between Nobleton and Schomberg, Ontario. Their unique regenerative methods focus on improving soil health by increasing organic matter using cultivation methods that do not disturb the soil structure. The aim is to increase biodiversity, water retention, crop health and, most importantly, nutrient density. Although they are not a certified organic farm, their methods far exceed the requirement of organic certification. Join us as we discuss how they organize and run their unique operation!   You’ll hear: Why Lex and Beth decided to start selling the crops of their farming side project 1:37 How Providence Hill approach farmer’s markets 3:51 How Providence Hill has widened their production 6:52About the unique methods Beth and Lex utilize when creating salad mixes 9:56 How Lex and Beth maintain a “relaxed” schedule while keeping productive 12:49 How they go about increasing the average value of transactions for existing customers 25:11 What Beth and Lex would change about their farming operation given the opportunity to turn back time 35:25 Why Providence Hill keeps their help (primarily) in the family 40:14 The biggest mistakes Beth and Lex see newer farmers making 50:59 How they distribute compost 59:46 Their favorite farming tool 1.00:52 Where can you find out more about Lex, Beth, and Providence Hill Farm 1.08:29   About the Guests:Beth and Lex moved to their 12.5 acre property about an hour north of Toronto 16 years ago with the goal of raising their 3 kids in a rural setting and growing some food for themselves, as well as dabbling in some cut flower production and on-farm dog boarding to supplement their income while still allowing them to both work from home while raising the children.  Over time Lex became extremely interested in some of the newer small scale farming techniques and the family began building their market farm.  Now in their 5th year of farming, all 3 of the kids are fully involved in the business as well. Providence Hill Farm grows salad greens, market vegetables, microgreens, edible flowers and cut flowers using all-natural, regenerative farming techniques, focusing on low/no till methods, heavy compost amendments and the use of 13 caterpillar tunnels for season extension.  They are also in the process of adding a mushroom grow room to their operation, and a new on-site farm store for retail sales which will include an attached licensed kitchen/ workshop space.  They are expanding their sales to include a market-style point system CSA this season for the first time, in addition to their farmers market sales.  They are also continually expanding their line of value-added items as well as bringing in items such as meat, fish, grains etc from other farms in their area. They firmly believe that the key to a successful family run farm is to continue to evolve and adapt the strategies for running the operation to match the current life stages, needs and personalities of the people who are involved in the day to day running of the farm. Resources:Website - Facebook -  Instagram -
Joining us today is Kim Goodling, owner of Vermont Grand View Farm. Vermont Grand View focuses on low impact sustainable farming with attention to raising high quality Gotland sheep, which conform to Swedish standards, and producing heirloom wool products. They’re passionate about sharing their farm with others with wide-open arms to all guests to their rural community who wish to experience farm life. Tune in to find out all about farming with sheep and the surprising diversity within the field!    You’ll hear: How Kim got started working with sheep 1:07 About the history of sheep in Vermont 4:41 Why Kim chose Gotland sheep 6:45 About different types of sheep and what can you do with them 13:45 What the main sources of income are for Vermont Grand View 17:57 What kind of accommodations are set up on the farm 28:32 About the mentoring program offered by Vermont Grand View and how it got started 32:13 What the future holds for Vermont Grand View 36:21 What Kim would do differently if she started over 38:35 How Kim dealt with potential overwhelm while building the farm 43:26 Kim’s favorite farming tool 45:00 Where can you find out information about Vermont Grand View’s mentoring program and farmstays 49:39   About the Guest:Kim Goodling is shepherd and owner of Vermont Grand View Farm. She and her husband raise Gotland sheep, a unique breed whose genetics date back to the Vikings on Gotland Island, Sweden. Being a typical Vermont hillside farm, they have diversified by offering their own maple syrup and by inviting guests to experience rural farm life first hand through farmstay vacations. Kim also offers a mentoring program to other shepherds.   Resources:Website -,  Facebook -, Instagram -
What is the Value Added Producer Grant, what can it do for your farm, and what does it take to be eligible for it? Joining us today is creative agriculture strategist Ellen Rawley. Ellen works with farms doing custom product development, product launches, trafficking and certifications, and much more. She works with local & artisan food products made in-house or by real-food co-packers as well as branded products for retail stores (brick and mortar & online). As some of you know, the Value Added Producer Grant deadline is approaching fast, which is why, for this episode, we’ll be focusing on the details of this grant, how you can get it, and what it can do for your farm’s finance!    You’ll hear:  How Ellen got started in creative strategy 1:58 What Ellen considers to be value added products 3:56 About value added rewards 6:08 Some common reasons why people opt out of doing value added 10:54 What the Value Added Producer Grant can do for farmers 16:37 What you need to be eligible for the Value Added Producer Grant 20:30 What farmers can get grants for 29:26 What Ellen’s advice is for those aiming for the grant 34:36 Where you can learn more about Ellen and how she can help your farm 37:38   About the Guest:Ellen Rawley, founder of Ellen Rawley Creative & Strategy, works with farmers and other integrity-based product businesses to launch & sell profitable products. Her specialties include cGMP and organic compliance, product development, and go-to-market strategy. Her interest in values-based markets has led her to study the success of the fair trade movement in Germany and England, to launch a jam line for an olive oil ranch that was featured in the debut of Martha Stewart's American Made shop, and to found Ellen Rawley Creative & Strategy. Products she has helped launch can be found in grocery stores like Mollie Stones, specialty shops like BiRite market, magazines like Food & Wine, and high-end spas like the Mohonk Mountain Resort.  She believes that products made with passion and conviction can change our relationship to the land and to each other.    Resources: Value Added Producer Grant Information: Website - Facebook - Instagram - LinkedIn -
What’s the oldest thriving organic farm in Vermont and how have they grown throughout the years? Find out today from Howard Prussack of High Meadows Farm, located just a short drive from the center of Putney, Vermont. High Meadows Farm is a 65 Acre farm of rolling hills and fertile soils, surrounded by oak and maple woodlands. As Vermont’s oldest certified organic farm, High Meadows has been providing the community and greater New England with premium organic vegetables and potted plants since 1979. The land has been used for farming as far back as the 1700s when it was once part of the historic Ranney family farm, the first settlers in town. A farm (and a farmer!) with so much history must be rich in knowledge, so be sure to check this one out!    You’ll hear: How Howard began his farming journey and what’s happened since 0:45 What kind of tunnels Howard uses on the farm 20:54 How the growing season progresses on High Meadows Farm 23:56 Whether Howard prefers larger or smaller greenhouses 25:25 What kinds of field crops High Meadows Farm grows 37:02 How Howard’s team is assembled 44:12 The story behind their farmer’s market 54:38 When, Howard believes, is the best time to start a farm 1.01:34 The biggest mistake Howard sees newer farmers making 1.02:11 Where you can find out more about Howard and High Meadows Farm 1.10:10   About the Guest: High Meadows Farm is a 65 Acre farm of rolling hills and fertile soils, surrounded by oak and maple woodlands. Situated just a short drive from the center of Putney, VT, Vermont’s oldest certified organic Farm. High Meadows has been providing the community and greater New England with premium organic vegetables and potted plant plants since 1979. High altitude, cool evenings, and mineral rich soils are key to High Meadows’ sweet nutrient rich vegetables. This land has been used for farming as far back as the 1700s when it was once part of the historic Ranney family farm, the first settlers in this town. Prior to its purchase in 1979, the farm was primarily run as a dairy farm. Four and a half miles from the center of Putney, VT, High Meadows farm is located just adjacent to the site where NOFA VT was founded. NOFA’s 40th year celebration was held in the High Meadows Farm barn! Howard is responsible for the sales end of the business, including sourcing new accounts, arranging promotions, and selling in new items. He does all of the seeding, manages the facility, including greenhouse and field production, fertilizing, pest control, repairs and maintenance, greenhouse construction, and trucks. Howard runs the retail business at the farmer’s market as well. Lisa manages the plant inventories, plans the production schedule, is in charge of rooted cuttings and plant material purchases, and instituted lot control. Lisa keeps the business financial records, forecasts, sales, and expenses, and works on strategy with Howard. In addition, Lisa readies plant pots for sale and fills orders and loads trucks.   Resources: Local Line -, Website - Facebook - Instagram -
What do you get when you combine solutions for both environmental and social issues? Organic farming, of course! Joining us today is Matthew Hayes of Zsamboki Biokert located in Zsámbok, Hungary. The mission at Zsamboki is to involve as many people as possible in the mysteries of organic farming. Matthew and the Zsamboki team pride themselves in growing quality goods with the least possible damage to the environment, keeping CO2 emissions low. They also focus on the diverse members of their environment, striving to operate a self-sustaining farm using their own nutrients. Check out this fascinating episode and learn all about organic farming in Hungary! You’ll hear: An overview of Zsamboki Biokert 2:03 About the availability of horse-drawn equipment in Hungary 5:26 What sheep are used for on Zsamboki 8:47 How Matthew set up the CSA 9:51 Matthew’s background with farming in Europe 12:55 How Matthew keeps everything organized on the farm 17:45 About the soil fertility on Zsamboki Biokert 24:30 What’s unusual about the tunnel design on the farm 31:30 The hardest thing Matthew has done on his farming journey 35:39 What systems Matthew would put in place sooner given the opportunity to go back in time 40:10 How Matthew set up his team on Zsamboki Biokert 45:09 What advice Matthew would give to new farmers 53:14 What advice Matthew would give to himself as a new farmer 56:31 Matthew's favorite farming tool 59:17 Where you can find out more about Matthew and Zsamboki Biokert 1.02:15   About the Guest:Matthew grew up in a large, wild garden and developed a deep love of the outdoors. As he started to see more of the world, Matthew was always interested in both environmental and social issues and eventually put 2+2 together to realize that a life in organic farming combined outdoor physical work with a positive contribution to the planet. That led him to become an apprentice on Tablehurst Farm, UK in 1987. After working on many farms in many countries in many positions, Matthew ended up in Hungary in 1995. With colleagues, they set up the Open Garden Foundation (Matthew is the director) which was an organic training farm for Szent István University, Gödöllő, Hungary.  The Open Garden (Nyitott Kert) became the first CSA in Hungary, starting in 1998, and continued through various transformations for many years. Matthew has worked as a grower and practical educator in Hungary for over 25 years and in 2010 together with friends set up Zsámboki Biokert. This is a small, commercial market garden running a webshop-based box scheme with a weekly stand also at the Budapest Organic Market. The bustling small farm also works to run programs which link the countryside with the city, and works in close cooperation with Cargonomia, the Budapest-based cargo-bike degrowth movement. Between 2016-2018 Matthew returned to England to work for Ruskin Mill Trust and set up a rooftop bio-intensive garden in the middle of Birmingham - providing food and education to young people with learning challenges. Social farming, composting, and soil health are enduring interests which offer endless opportunities to learn! Resources:Website - Facebook -
What does it take to thrive as an organic, stockfree, community-interest farm?  Quite a lot, but as our guest today shows, it’s a climbable mountain. Joining us today is Iain Tolhurst of Tolhurst Organic located in south Oxfordshire, UK. Tolhurst Organic, one of the longest running organic vegetable farms in England, supplies in-season organic vegetables and fruit delivered to local neighborhoods weekly, via a neighborhood rep scenario. Almost all vegetables are harvested the day of delivery to guarantee freshness. They pride themselves on being able to grow as many of the vegetables as possible and produce at least 85% of the value on their own land. They believe that food should be as local as possible, and focus on buying from other organic farms in the area. We discuss the inner workings and methods of Iain’s uniquely thriving farming operation in this episode, so it’s certainly not one to miss!    You’ll hear: How Tolhurst Organic began and what it’s all about 2:00 What a community interest company is about 4:33 What Iain was doing before embarking on his farming journey 7:09 What a typical week looks like on Iain’s farm 8:45 How and why Tolhurst Organic goes stockfree 13:53 How they go about managing nitrogen 21:42 What Iain does with ramiel wood 25:00 How Tolhurst Organic reduces their carbon footprint so effectively 39:45 How Iain developed the on-farm store for Tolhurst Organic 48:52 The biggest mistakes Iain sees newer farmers making 56:50 How they manage strawberries on the farm 1.00:01 What bit of encouragement Iain would give to himself as a new farmer 1.01:14 Iain’s favorite farming tool 1.02:16 Where you can find more about Iain and Tolhurst Organic 1.06:28   About the Guest: Iain Tolhurst has been at the forefront of the UK organic farming movement for over 40 years. His 8 ha farm has won many awards, the most recent being “Soil farmer of the year”. His most recent book “Back to the Land,” a chronological compilation of many of the articles and papers that he has written during his long career, gives a fascinating account of the way his farm and business has developed with much emphasis on soil management. His earlier work, “Growing Green” co-written with Jenny Hall, has become a text book for many especially the newly emerging young people keen to get into Stockfree organic food production. For many decades he has been delivering inspirational speeches and presentations on the farm’s organic and sustainable methods of food production. His wide knowledge and experience has made him in much demand both nationally and increasingly internationally delivering presentations and educational seminars. The farm is a model of sustainability and produces a wide range of produce for the local community. Visitors from all over the world are able to see for themselves the various components of the Stockfree organic farm, from the green manures and diverse rotations to the woodchip composts and integration of agroforestry to the vegetable system. Iain has been able to maintain a viable and sustainable business on land which is not considered suitable for vegetable production. The integration of crops and biodiversity makes for a fascinating and durable agricultural system. He has been heard to say “The primary product of this farm is the culture of biodiversity, food production is the by-product of that.”   Resources: Local Line - Website - Facebook - Instagram -
How can farming heal communities?  Daron Babcock, Executive Director of Bonton Farms, is our guest this week and we’ll talk about how he regenerates his community with the largest urban farm in the United States! Operating out of Bonton in Dallas, Texas, Bonton Farms is driven by the mission to restore lives, create jobs, and ignite hope in a once forgotten and neglected neighborhood with some of the most marginalized people. What started out as a garden in a small lot has grown into two fully functioning farms and the Bonton Market. They grow organic food with hope for a better tomorrow.They also house free-range chickens, goats, turkeys, rabbits, and beehives that provide an abundance of fresh eggs, milk, and honey. Join us today to hear all about how Bonton operates and how the community benefits!   You’ll hear: What inspired Daron to shift from a successful corporate career into farming 1:51 What the early days of Bonton Farms were like 9:45 What Daron’s farming background was before he got started in Bonton 12:42 What a typical week looks like on Bonton Farms 13:43 What products Bonton provides 15:18 About the hardest part of Daron’s farming journey 20:24 What Daron would do differently at the beginning given the opportunity to turn back time 26:30 How Bonton takes farming further than other farms 33:21 What the Director of Discipleship does on Bonton Farms 38:16 Where Bonton started selling their products 42:40 What advice Daron has for new farmers 46:05 How big the vegetable garden part of Bonton is 48:56 Where you can find out more about Daron and Bonton Farms 50:43 About the Guest:As a young man, Daron Babcock became a successful corporate employee, living everywhere from Oklahoma to Oregon, but life events and struggles ultimately led him to Dallas, TX. After connecting with the community of Bonton through a friend, Babcock began to serve in the neighborhood. His heart broke for the marginalized and overlooked people who called Bonton home so he decided to leave his career along with his comfortable home in Frisco, Texas and moved to Bonton. Daron leads an effort for community restoration and renewal. To date, some of those efforts have manifested into social enterprises such as Bonton Honey Company, Bonton Housing, The Market at Bonton Farms, a coffee house, farmers market, and most notably, Bonton Farms, the largest urban farm in the United States. He serves as Founder and CEO. Daron’s broad professional experience coupled with his heart for serving inner-city communities brings a fresh and innovative perspective to urban transformation and renewal.Resources:Website - Facebook - Instagram -
Are you on top of the financial fitness of your farm? For today’s episode, we speak to Michelle Patten of Patten Bookkeeping and Consulting. Michelle Patten is a lover of agriculture and business. She combines her passions through Patten Bookkeeping & Consulting, which profited in the first year and has seen growth each year since. Michelle is a certified “ranch kid” with all the childhood memories of hard work and fun to go along with it. She raises farm-to-table grass fed beef at Fighting Butte Cattle Company with her husband, Matthew. Together, they are always looking for new opportunities to utilize their shared entrepreneurial spirit. Tune in today as we discuss the unsexy yet paramount role bookkeeping and numbers play in running a thriving farm!   You’ll hear: What led Michelle to a farm-related profession 1:21 How farmers should be doing their year end review 2:38  How farmers should deal with 1099 statements 5:29 Why you need to keep the books in order 9:24 How Michelle categorizes income reports 17:52 How often farmers should be tending to their books 20:16 How Michelle categorizes farm funding 21:43 What common questions Michelle gets asked regarding bookkeeping 27:16 What else farmers should be thinking about as they’re starting their farming business 37:55 How much cash reserve farmers should keep set aside for their business 39:28 What advice Michelle has for farmers who are frightened by the numbers 42:14   About the Guest:Michelle Patten is a lover of agriculture and business. She combines her passions through Patten Bookkeeping & Consulting. As a six-figure earner, Michelle knows how to grow a business in a way that ensures profitability. Michelle is a certified “ranch kid” with all the childhood memories of hard work and fun to go along with it.  She raises farm-to-table grass fed beef at Fighting Butte Cattle Company with her husband, Matthew. Together, they are always looking for new opportunities to utilize their shared entrepreneurial spirit.  Michelle has created a proven system to generate profitability and growth for agribusinesses. Together, Michelle and her clients collaborate to build a legacy for future generations. She has worked with farmers, ranchers and agribusiness owners throughout the United States and Canada. Michelle has been featured in several podcasts and newspapers, including Working Cows Podcast, Ag State of Mind Podcast, and the Tri-State Livestock News.   Michelle has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Accounting from Montana State University-Billings, where she graduated Cum Laude. She is a Certified QuickBooks Online Advanced ProAdvisor. She also proudly serves on the Montana Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Board. Serving her community is very important to Michelle and she is actively involved in the Powder River Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture. Michelle lives on the family ranch in Montana with her husband, Matthew, two daughters, Lillian (4), Abigail (2) and son, Henry (infant).   Resources:Website -, Facebook - Instagram - LinkedIn -
What are hydroponics and how does a hydroponic farm thrive? Joining us today is Ethan Norvell, manager of Salad Days Produce located in Flora, Mississippi. Family owned and operated, Salad Days is a hydroponic farm that specializes in growing pesticide-free produce and is able to supply a wide variety of lettuce 365 days a year. Their specially designed re-circulating hydroponic methods save land, conserve water, eliminate agricultural runoff and chemical pesticides, and offer the benefits of efficient, high-yield, local, and year-round food production. Tune in to hear from the expert about how it’s done!    You’ll hear: What kinds of crops Salad Days grows 1:04 Why they dropped tomatoes 2:20 What lettuce products they are offering 8:22 How Ethan got started in farming 14:42 Is hydroponic considered organic? 21:22 If Ethan utilize symbiotic insects 24:42 About their lettuce growth process 29:53 How their nutrient channels operate  39:21 What their weekly schedule looks like  43:44 How Salad Days goes about hiring 47:02 Some mistakes Ethan sees newer farmers making 49:44 How the owners ensure Ethan is a successful manager 50:54 Ethan’s favorite farming tool 53:28 How Ethan feels about the idea of starting a farm today 54:34 Where you can learn more about Ethan and Salad Days Produce 57:15   About the Guest:Ethan Norvell is the greenhouse manager at Salad Days Produce, an 18,000 square feet hydroponic lettuce operation located in Flora, MS. Salad Days grows a variety of lettuces year round in an NFT (nutrient film technique) recirculating system. Ethan and the Salad Days team is committed to growing healthy food for Mississippi and the surrounding region.   Resources: Local Line Home Delivery Cost Calculator - Website - Facebook - Instagram -
Have you ever considered turning your vegetable growing hobby into a full-time career? Today we are joined by Sam McLemore of Bountiful Harvest Farms in Starkville, Mississippi. Bountiful Harvest Farms was started by Sam and his wife, Isabel, in the Spring of 2011. What started as a desire to grow vegetables for their family turned into a new career for Sam and an adventure to grow vegetables for the Starkville area. After working in the landscape business for a while, Sam decided that he wanted to grow food full-time instead of just as a hobby and Bountiful Harvest Farms was born. Tune in today to hear all about the challenges, differences, and advantages of building and maintaining a thriving farm in the deep south!   You’ll hear: What Bountiful Harvest Farms grows 1:10 The challenges Sam faces running a farm in the deep south 3:13 The main types of pests in Mississippi 4:11 How Sam regulates nitrogen in pea crops to tame the vines 8:06 What types of soil Sam contends with down south 8:43 What varieties of sweet potatoes Sam grows 11:07  Why Sam switched to more mechanical methods for cultivation 13:08 Why you should invest in new machinery 18:10 How Sam keeps nutrients in the soil on his farm 20:47 What a typical week looks like on Bountiful Harvest Farms 24:09 The hardest part of running a farm for Sam 28:42 About Sam’s mentors throughout his farming journey 30:51 What Sam would’ve done sooner given the opportunity to go back in time 39:33 About the team at Bountiful Harvest Farms 42:21 How Sam goes about selling their vegetables 46:43 Keys to growing good hot peppers 49:53 The biggest mistakes Sam sees new farmers making 52:27 Sam’s favorite farming tool 55:56 How Sam feels about starting a farm now 58:58 Where you can find out more about Sam and Bountiful Harvest Farms 1.05:51   About the Guest:Bountiful Harvest Farms was started by Sam and Isabel McLemore in the Spring of 2011 in Starkville, Mississippi. What started when a desire to grow vegetables for our family turned into a new career for Sam and an adventure to grow vegetables for the Starkville area. Sam and Isabel are both Mississippi natives from Port Gibson and Oxford, respectively. Sam's grandfathers both grew food in gardens at home. Isabel grew up having a family Summer garden most years and learned to compost at an early age. They both had the makings of farming in their future but did not realize it! Sam and Isabel met, fell in love, and graduated from Mississippi State University and have called Starkville home since. When Sam graduated from college he took 6 months to hike the Appalachian Trail. After working in the landscape business for a while he decided that he wanted to grow food full-time instead of just as a hobby and Bountiful Harvest Farms was born! In the first year, BHF had two neighborhood garden locations and continued to grow. In 2013 the farm needed more space and the operation was moved to one larger piece of property in Starkville. At the end of 2015 the farm moved again to the current location on Pat Station Road where it could be at a more permanent location.   Resources:Website - YouTube - Facebook - Instagram -
Have you ever considered the thought that mushrooms may have a bit more to offer than just unsightly, unsettling, unwanted growths on your farm? On this special episode, we’re discussing our upcoming Mushroom Summit. While you might think mushrooms are just weird fungus that have no place on your farm, well, I would passionately disagree! The mycological kingdom holds an integral place in our health, on our tables, and so much more. We have some amazing experts to share with the world, who will surely convince you to consider adding mushrooms to your farming operation. This 3-day Summit is 100% free to attend. You have nothing to lose and ever so much to gain, so if you can make it, you owe it to yourself to do just that!   You’ll hear: What mushrooms do for humanity 2:37 About the Mushroom Summit is and its structure 3:40 Who’ll be speaking on day 1 at the Mushroom Summit, what they do, and what you can learn from them 6:03 Who’ll be speaking on day 2 at the Mushroom Summit, what they do, and what you can learn from them 12:06 Who’ll be speaking on day 3  at the Mushroom Summit, what they do, and what you can learn from them 25:02 Why you should attend the Growing Farmers Mushroom Summit! 34:52 About Growing Farmers and the Mushroom Summit: Growing Farmers is led by Michael Kilpatrick, a farmer, educator, and inventor who lives in Ohio. He is the host of the top rated Thriving Farmer Podcast and Thriving Farmer Summit series which has been viewed by over 50,000 farmers. He has managed large farms and businesses, consulted for industry experts around the world, and spoken at dozens of conferences. Michael believes that anyone can farm by following the simple business and management skills that he teaches in the Small Farm University, our community for thriving farmers.Join the largest virtual Mushroom Conference in the world. You will discover how fungi impact virtually every aspect of our lives, learn how to grow mushrooms of all types, and explore how to start a fungi focused business! In this FREE Online Conference you'll discover: How fungi impact virtually every aspect of our lives, and are needed now more than ever How you can grow your own nutrient-rich mushrooms on your countertop in just a few days How to start your very own mushroom business in a spare room, garage, or even your basement! Resources:Sign up for our FREE Mushroom Summit: See my daughter, Charlotte, talk about growing mushroom when she was 4 years old HERE!
Have you ever considered taking a completely different kind of farming journey? Adam Cohen and Jordan Jent join us today from Texas Fungus, hailing from Fort Worth and supplying all of Northern Texas. Jordan started Texas Fungus in the Fall of 2016 and now grows the most premium mushrooms in the area and beyond. The original farm began in a one-car garage and has since relocated to Arlington, TX in a 2,000 sq.ft. facility after Jordan partnered with Adam in January 2019. The farm has been expanding and thriving ever since. Join us to learn all about how they cultivate the best damn mushrooms in Texas!   You’ll hear: How Jordan and Adam got started working with mushrooms 1:06 What makes growing mushrooms different from other crops 10:06 What a typical day at Texas Fungus looks like 11:45 How much time Jordan and Adam spend on the farm 16:41 How they prioritize important tasks 18:00 The most difficult thing they’ve encountered after starting their business 22:04 How Jordan and Adam advise learning about mushroom production to newcomers 29:38 How roles are divided on Texas Fungus 36:29 Which of their products sell best in Fort Worth and surrounding areas 50:26 What the whole growing process looks like 56:01 The biggest mistakes Adam and Jordan see newer farmers making 1.03:25 Their favorite farming tool 1.11:20 How Jordan and Adam feel about the prospect of starting a new farm today 1.15:53 Where you can learn more about Adam, Jordan, and Texas Fungus 1.19:36 What they’re currently doing with their grow kits 1.20:53   About the Guests:Adam Cohen is a former school teacher (Math, Science, Agriculture), who spent much of the last 15 years working with hydroponics and aquaponics. Struggling to find a way to balance the time needed to be an effective teacher with the needs of running a successful farm, Adam kept looking for ways to be more efficient and to do more with less. A chance meeting in late 2018 introduced him to Jordan Jent and the two partnered up to build Texas Fungus, a small artisan mushroom farm in the heart of the DFW Metroplex. Jent, a former Chef with a self-professed "black-thumb" had been growing mushrooms for a short time and was looking to find a way to bring a new connection to the DFW food-scene that had not existed in the area prior. Since January of 2019, Adam and Jordan have overcome a number of challenges and growing pains as they work to bring the #bestdamnmushrooms to DFW. In the fall of 2017, Jordan Jent received a mushroom kit as a gift that didn't fruit out. About that same time, he was also looking for a way out of the 9 to 5 corporate rat race. As a former chef, he still found himself looking for ways to be connected to the local DFW food scene. After the failed kit, Jordan stumbled upon mushroom growing and went down the rabbit hole. One year later in 2018, Jordan decided to go all-in and leave the simplicity of a 40-hour work week and good benefits for a life of mushroom farming, providing the #bestdamnmushroomsindfw to local chefs. After partnering up with Adam Cohen in the beginning of 2019, they expanded from 5 restaurants and 50lbs per week to 30+ restaurants and 250lbs per week by the end of 2019.Resources:Website - Facebook - Instagram -
Have you had experienced, competent, professional mentors throughout your farming journey? If not, it could make all the difference in how you run your farm! Joining me today on this special 100th episode for the Thriving Farmer Podcast, are two of my long time personal mentors, Paul and Sandy Arnold. They are the owners and founders of Pleasant Valley Farm. Pleasant Valley is a small, family run farm. For over 30 years they have provided their community with the freshest, highest quality and tastiest vegetables, herbs and fruits grown with organic methods. They sell over 90% of their produce directly at local farmers markets and the rest to local outlets and renowned farm-to-table restaurants. Since 2007 they have supplied a full array of vegetables and herbs year-round using unheated, large high tunnels and carefully controlled root storage. They run everything like a business by focusing on efficiency, lean principles, customer driven marketing practices, constant improvements, crop research, and use of cutting edge technology. Tune in today for this very special episode to hear me speak with my mentors about all things farming!   You’ll hear: What got Paul and Sandy into farming 2:14 How important it is for them to farm as a team 6:52 About their roles on the farm 7:53 How they managed to run their operation with lean labor for so long 11:57 How Paul and Sandy keep their team active 15:24 About the management principles at Pleasant Valley Farm 19:01 How Sandy and Paul leveraged credit cards 21:46 How Sandy and Paul manage their market sheet 27:02 How their irrigation system is set up 32:04 What their marketing policy is 36:00 About the education side of Pleasant Valley Farm 43:21 What kind of equipment they utilize on Pleasant Valley farm 49:33 Paul and Sandy’s best piece of advice for a new farmer 1.00.42   About the Guests:After growing up in suburbia, Paul worked at a nursery/greenhouse operation in his early 20’s.  At the age of 27, he traveled across the United States, became enamored with farming as he saw the many acres of fields being plowed.  After visiting a farmer’s market in Michigan with a friend, he knew he wanted to be a farmer and sell at farmers’ markets. Paul came home, worked for a summer with a local farmer, then started farming on an acre in his parents’ back yard in South Glens Falls, NY in 1987.  Realizing that this was his real passion in life, Paul purchased 60 acres of land in Argyle in 1988. The 60 acres of land, which overlooked a scenic valley and was just cornfields at the time, became Pleasant Valley Farm. Sandy Olmsted grew up in many parts of the country, mostly in Maine and New York, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Botany. Sandy has always had a passion for traveling, and has been in every U.S. state as well as more than 20 countries around the world.  She worked in management at garden centers and development businesses prior to marrying Paul in 1991 in Argyle, NY. While Sandy and Paul established Pleasant Valley Farm, they lived in a pop-up camper for two summers before building their house on their land.  The farm buildings began as historic barns with slate roofs which they took down at a nearby farm and put back up at Pleasant Valley Farm. All infrastructure, including electricity, water, sewer, propane, and other farm buildings came over time, with the work done by Paul, Sandy and Paul’s Dad, Bion. In 1992, Robert was born in November, and three years later, on Christmas Day in 1995, Kim was born.   For many years, Sandy and Paul juggled being full-time farmers, parents, and they home-schooled their children until both children went off to college. Kim and Robert from a very early age, worked many hours each week, helping to make Pleasant Valley Farm a very successful family farm, with Paul’s parents being key partners as well since they lived 20 minutes away. Since 1992, Pleasant Valley Farm has given the Arnold’s their sole source of income through selling at local farmers’ markets and a few wholesale accounts (restaurants, caterers, and stores).  In 2006, they began winter production in high tunnels, which has had a huge impact in the northeast for marketing year-round and increasing profits for farmers.   Resources:Website - Facebook - Instagram -
What career path should you consider if you’re passionate about bringing high quality nutritious meals to your community’s tables and creating a quality-rich environment for animal livelihood? Joining us today on the Thriving Farmer Podcast is Luke Groce of Groce Family Farm. Luke started Groce Family Farm near Louisville, KY soon after he got married to Katherine in 2009. In their first four years of farming, they focussed on chemical free vegetables. They soon came to believe that their farm should mimic nature's rhythms more and more. In 2014, they started raising pastured pork, and in 2015, bought their new farm in Crawford County, IN.  Today they offer forest raised pork, open-pasture chicken duck and turkey, and 100% grass-fed lamb and beef through their meat CSA and at farmers markets in the Louisville and Southern Indiana areas. They work with restaurants and grocers and sell vegetables sometimes as well.  Tune in today to hear all about Luke’s unique operation and how he keeps it thriving!   You’ll hear: How Luke got his start in farming 1:06 How the animals are raised on Groce Family Farm 2:32 How and when their turkeys are processed 8:11 What a typical week looks like on Groce Family Farm 9:45 What systems are in place to keep them organized 11:15 The hardest part about being a farmer for Luke 16:22 Who Luke’s mentors were throughout his farming journey 19:46 What systems Luke would go back and change on his farm if he could 22:22 How luke manages his team on the farm 28:02 How Luke managed to take time off after having his child 30:20 How Luke finds the right people to hire 34:37 How Luke goes about getting new customers 36:42 What mistakes Luke sees beginning farmers making 38:10 Luke’s favorite farming tool 41:42 Where you can find out more about Luke and Groce Family Farm 43:23   About the Guest:Luke Groce and his wife, Katherine Groce, operate Groce Family Farm in Riddle, Indiana. They farm full-time, producing six species of animals for meat on pasture: chickens, pigs, ducks, turkeys, lamb, and cattle. Their products are offered locally through a meat CSA, wholesale accounts, and farmers markets. Beyond thinking, speaking, and sharing about ecology, business, marketing, and efficient farm management, Luke and Katherine spend their time raising five children. Luke is also the host of The Pasture Raised Podcast.Resources:Website -  Facebook - Instagram -
How do experienced farmers go about building the most healthy, fertile soil possible to yield the highest quality and quantity produce?  Joining us on today’s podcast is Casey Ostwinch of Honey Tree Farm, a Certified Naturally Grown, four-season bio-intensive market garden located in Conover, North Carolina. Casey and his wife Tori use human scale techniques that allow them to focus on building healthy soil that will yield fresh, local, quality produce. Casey first started in landscaping while in high school, decided to stay in the field upon graduating, and went to a horticulture/landscape design program in college. He spent 10 years working in the field...and in tree nurseries where he found his passion. He has since honed this passion into a fine art. Tune in today to hear all about his farm and his secrets to keeping it thriving!   You’ll hear: An overview of Honey Tree Farm 1:25 What prompted Casey to become a full time farmer 5:03 What a typical week on Honey Tree Farm looks like 6:49 How Casey’s schedule accommodates completing all important farming tasks 9:28 What specific systems are in place to ensure these tasks get done 10:44 The hardest part about being a farmer for Casey 13:37 Who Casey’s mentors were throughout his farming journey 17:17 What techniques Casey employs with his deep mulch nursery 18:12 What systems Casey would have put into place sooner given the opportunity to do so 23:18 What the content/goal of Casey’s Youtube channel is 25:45 How roles are divided on Honey Tree Farm 32:51 How Honey Tree Farm sets and achieves their marketing goals 35:07 How Casey reaches out to and onboards new clients 38:05  How Casey sets up the volunteers that he works with 41:09 How Casey goes approaches marketing for the farm 46:10 How Honey Tree arranges their farmers market stand in order to maximize sales 47:14 Casey’s advice for beginning farmers 50:44 Casey’s favorite farming tool 53:10 Where you can find out more about Casey and Honey Tree Farm 59:04   About the Guest: Honey Tree Farm, owned and operated by Casey and Tori Ostwinch, is a Certified Naturally Grown, four-season bio-intensive market garden located in Conover, North Carolina. They use human scale techniques that allow them to focus on building healthy soil that will yield fresh, local, quality produce. Casey studied horticulture in college, landscaped for 10 years, was an arborist climber and PHC technician for 3 years, has done market gardening for 3 years, and in between all that, participated in 6 years of Air National Guard service as a heavy equipment operator. Tori Ostwinch has her Masters degree in accounting, is a CrossFit coach, and has extensive work experience with corporate data/analytics. She has been doing market gardening for 2 years and has worked diligently to get Honey Tree Farm up and running on the business side.   Resources:Website -  Facebook - Instagram - YouTube -
Can you run an animal-based farm and simultaneously be passionate about animal welfare? Our guest today proves that those two things aren’t a direct conflict of interests. Marissa Paykos of Hardeeville, South Carolina joins us today to tell us all about her farming operation, Whippoorwill Farms. Whippoorwill is a small farm with plans on making a BIG impact! It’s a 40 acre raw plot of land turned into a family farm offering premium fresh butchered chicken, rabbit, and pork as well as fresh eggs and seasonal veggies. Marissa and her husband, James, take great pride in providing a humane environment for the animals on their farm. They are given the opportunity to live their best life and the living conditions there are far above the standard of what most animals experience. Tune in to find out how she built her farm and how she maintains her humane animal farm operation!   You’ll hear: An overview of Whippoorwill Farms 1:01 How Marissa found a processor for the rabbit side of the farm 2:36 The layout of Whippoorwill Farms 3:42 About Marissa’s professional background prior to farming and what the transition was like 7:41 How Marissa handled the financial aspect of the farm’s growth 11:18 How Whippoorwill incorporates biochar into their operation 14:26 How Whippoorwill prioritizes important tasks 19:09 What is the hardest part of running the farm is for Marissa 21:40 Who Marissa’s mentors were throughout her farming journey 24:41 How Marissa approaches farm tours 34:17 What Marissa would change in the early stages of her farm 36:22 Who Johnny is and what his role is on the farm 38:25 How Marissa divides roles on the farm 42:49 Where Whippoorwill Farms focuses their marketing efforts 50:11 About farm stays at Whippoorwill 56:19 The story behind their pay-what-you-can produce stand 1.07:01 The biggest mistakes Marissa sees newer farmers making 1.17:12 What kinds of goats are being bred on the farm 1.20:18 Marissa’s favorite farm tool 1.21:35 Where you can find out more about Marissa and Whippoorwill Farms 1.23:46   About the Guest:Marissa Paykos is a first generation farmer in the lowcountry of South Carolina who focuses on land management and regeneration through the use of heritage breed livestock and permaculture on her 40 acre biodiverse farm.  With a focus on her community and the environment, Marissa has been changing the game and inspiring many since her start. Marissa farms full time, with her 5 year old sidekick daughter Ellie, who has been by her side or on her back since the farm's inception just 5 short years ago. Marissa also freelances as a website developer and social media manager, as well as helps manage a local weekly farmers market. Marissa’s husband works an off-farm conventional job and has let Marissa take the reins and fully grow her dreams as he cheers from the side. Inspired by the desire to provide a better life for her soon to be born baby, husband, and herself, Marissa and her husband purchased their first piece of raw land of just 2 acres in 2015 that they farmed sustainably. After 2 years of working to build up infrastructure and homestead for themselves they moved to publicly selling in Fall of 2018. After 1 year of selling publicly, in late 2019, they took a leap to grow the business and purchased their new piece of fully overgrown, forests to regenerate. Resources:Website - Facebook - Instagram -
Ever wondered what it’s like to run a farm in extreme climates?  Hailing from Alaska, Allie Barker of Chugach Farm joins us for today’s episode. Chugach Farm’s mission is to support biological and soil health by nurturing plants and animals to provide an abundance of nutrient-dense food, empower the community to re-connect to local food systems, enable personal health and wellness through herbal medicine, food as medicine and energy-efficiency, adopt food storage methods that maintain years of food without consuming fossil fuel, and to develop energy-efficient farming methods and tool hacks as a model for others to live luxuriously with less. As lofty a mission as this is, Allie tackles them head on with gusto! Growing up as part of a passionate outdoorsy family, responsibility and discipline came early in life and has continuously developed ever since...and it certainly shows on the farm! Tune in to find out all about Chugach Farm’s complex operations and how they stay thriving in their atypical climate!   You’ll hear: An overview of Chugach Farm’s operations 2:13 About the impact of having 20 hours of daylight in the Summer and cold dark Winters on the farm 3:40 How Allie handles the heavy summer workload 7:41 Which vegetables work best in the short/cold season 9:07 How their crops and ferments are sold 11:45 What the ferment development process looks like 12:42 About the state of local food in Alaska 15:52 What the scope of the animal side of the Chugach operation looks like 21:02 How Allie manages the numerous tasks on the farm 27:54 About the hardest thing Allie had to do while building Chugach Farm 29:57 Who Allie’s mentors were throughout her farming journey 35:51 How Allie runs the fan systems for her greenhouses 35:45 What Allie would go back and change at the beginning of her farming operation 36:11 How Allie manages labor on the farm 38:15 Where Chugach Farm sells their products 40:42 About the transplants side of Chugach Farm 44:52 How Allie maintained her customer base when moving to online sales 46:36 The biggest mistakes Allie sees newer farmers making 48:12 What newer farmers should avoid during their first year of farming 49:00 Allie’s favorite farming tool 51:10 How Allie feels about starting a farm today 53:29 Where you can find out more about Allie and Chugach Farm 54:26 What Allie uses as a food preservation system 55:03   About the Guest: Allie spent her early years in Ohio on her parent’s farm shoveling manure, playing in the dirt, and observing her mother put-up more tomatoes than anyone could eat in a lifetime.  These formative years were not easy to wash off and helped to nurture her intuitive passion for self-sufficiency. Growing up as part of a passionate outdoorsy family, responsibility and discipline came at an early age.  Her commitment to athletic pursuits, combined with an incredibly positive father as a role model, gave her the determination and courage to follow her dreams. At 18 years of age, Allie migrated to Alaska to attempt a winter ascent of Mt. Marcus Baker. She found more than mountains to climb.  In addition to endless epic mountains she saw the potential to build a homestead, grow food, and live off-grid. Knowing she would soon return to Alaska permanently, Allie finished up her Bachelor of Arts Degree majored in sustainable agriculture, herbal medicine, alternative energy and sustainable architecture at Evergreen State College. Most of Allie’s adult life has been spent in the outdoors as a mountain guide, avalanche forecaster, and homesteader.  She naturally settled in the quiet town of Chickaloon nested between the beautiful Talkeetna and Chugach Mountains, nurtured by the rapids of the Matanuska and Chickaloon Rivers, located at the end of a beaten path deep in the heart of the Matanuska Valley, Alaska. After meeting her husband on a 40-day mountaineering trip on the Nelchina and Matanuska Glaciers, she convinced him to stay and be part of the adventure. Since purchasing land in Alaska in 2002, Allie and Jed have put their hearts, souls, blood and a few tears into creating a small scale, off-grid homestead and farm. In 2010, with Jed’s encouragement, Allie began to lead the charge in farming after deciding to produce on a different scale and committing to farming, nutrition, making ferments, and putting up food “full time.” Having been diagnosed with celiac disease in her mid-20’s, Allie was motivated to commit to a 100% local and nutrient dense diet of wild game, farm raised meat, good local fat, ferments, root veggies, raw goat milk, and eggs. She is proud of not having to rely on the grocery store for over 14 years and feels better than ever, never looking back. Allie melds her education, strong work ethic, love for the soil, and passion for herbal medicine and a nutrient-dense diet, into a full-time farm-life obsession. Chugach Farm has been in full operation since 2010, selling their goods at farmer’s markets, restaurants, on and off CSAs, CSF, local customers, and now direct marketing through the NEW Chugach Farm online store.   Resources: Website - Facebook - Instagram -
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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