Kevin Ford’s Story
Two years ago I quit my job as a high school theology teacher to become an organic vegetable farmer. It was my dream, and although I had little experience and even less of a plan, I believed it was what I was supposed to do with my life. Last year we ran a CSA. It was successful even though it was a drought year. We lived with in-laws to get on our feet, and they loaned us three acres to get started. This December we moved to our first farm and will run a large CSA in Southern Kansas this year. I have been actively involved in the establishment of the Catholic Land Movement, which is an organization (religion based) that promotes small-scale organic farming as a way to establish healthy families and a healthy society. I believe organic farming on a family scale is absolutely necessary for a healthy culture, society, and economy. I came home to farm to be with my family. I wanted a way to live, work, and pray with them. I desired a way to teach them the goodness of honest work on the land, and a way to pass on these things to them.
For the past two years I have struggled constantly with old machinery. With a lack of capital as a beginning farmer I have had to purchase older used machinery to do my tillage on my farm. I have wasted many a day tinkering with these old machines to keep them running. I do not have the finances available to purchase a two-wheel walking tractor with a tiller attachment and a cart. This would drastically improve my farming. The tiller would be new so breakdowns would be rare. These are made to the scale of small-scale farming so they will hold up to the use I would have for them. A cart would assist me in bringing in produce from the fields. With a grant and the sale of my older tillers I could afford a new two-wheel tractor. I could then spend more time caring for the soil, and less time fixing machinery. I also plan to host our first apprentice this summer, and the new machine would assist me in teaching him about properly scaled machinery for organic farming.
We chose to run a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) because we saw the benefits of it for the community and the farmer. This year our CSA is already nearly full with two months until the start of the drop-offs. Our membership has been almost entirely by word of mouth and thus we are truly doing community supported agriculture. We host an open house in the spring to show our members what we are doing, and so they can see what small-scale family farming is all about. Our farming is ultimately about real people, not just about producing a product. We will know our members by name. They know our story and want to support us in our endeavours. We are in an area that is almost entirely conventional wheat farming. Many of the farmers own more than a thousand acres. However, many are very interested to see if this small-scale organic farming can work. We hope to offer them an alternative to large-scale conventional farming. Many plan to purchase produce from us in our very very rural area of southern Kansas. We are a daily witness to the goodness of organic family farming. http://thefiatfarm.blogspot.com