Andy Hayner’s Story
My name is Andrew Hayner and I am a beginning yeoman farmer. I currently live on the White Earth Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota where I manage the Land Recovery Project agriculture. My goals include growing organic food, promoting mineral cycling, increasing diversity, and helping to create an alternative food system.
I started my agricultural career bailing hay in middle and in high school I began working with a conventional hog farmer in South Dakota. I loved the sunshine and physical work, but even more so the interconnected lifestyle of farming. Unfortunately the farmers I worked with and knew warned me about getting into farming. All their children were going to college and getting off the farm.
After several years of living in the city I had a burning desire to be back on the land. Attra.org lead me to my first internship with Bluebird Gardens vegetable farm in Fergus Falls, MN. While at Bluebird gardens I found the lifestyle that I had been missing so much. We watched the mist rise and the sun set for this labor of love. I became a field manager after one year and I was responsible for integrating chickens into the system. I was able to see many challenges of farming food, and I realized the immense knowledge and skill that must be achieved to run a scale appropriate, direct market farm in a super-store world.
I decided to go to MSTATE in Fergus Falls where I got top notch education on the craftsmanship of scale appropriate organic agriculture, based on pastoral economics. Organic Agriculture is a culture of adapting naturals systems to increase fertility, diversity, and resiliency to a changing world. The Sustainable Food Production program was a huge turning point for my family and our vision. I finished the program by interning with the White Earth Land Recovery Project for the animal powered Sugar Bush this spring. As I look forward to my work with this community I am starting to stack my own enterprises within the LRP’s system. One major challenge to the food system in such a rural place is the lack of small scale meat processors. My community and I would benefit greatly from a grant of 2,500 so I could purchase the chicken processing equipment from my previous employer and mentor Mark. He has decided to focus on converting his market farm to a CSA and no longer has use for his equipment. The equipment includes a scalder, plucker, kill cones, cooling tubs, and stainless steel tables. This would enable me to buy out the enterprise that I began.