Farm Beginnings Profiles

These profiles feature the stories of graduates of the Land Stewardship Project’s Farm Beginnings and Journeyperson courses. In these stories, the graduates talk about the challenges of launching a farm business, how these courses got them started on their agrarian path, and what their future goals are.

Farm Beginnings Profile: A Raw Deal on Farmland

Using Farm Beginnings & Soil Health to Push Marginal Land Beyond Expectations

There are upsides to launching a farm on raw, open land: no broken-down outbuildings or junk piles to deal with, the ability to truly start anew from the soil up. Then…there’s the other side of the fence, so to speak. “I decided to move the sheep before they move themselves,” says Hannah Bernhardt with a…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: An Enigmatic Edge in Corn Country

This Gateway into Farming Hinges on Small Grains, Livestock & Soil Health With its pool table topography and coffee-colored soils, southern Minnesota’s Nicollet County perennially ranks as one of the top producers of corn and soybeans in the state, and land prices reflect it — in 2019 the average annual non-irrigated cropland rental rate in…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: A Land-Based Launching Pad

Four Winds Farm Serves as a Staging Ground for New Agrarians

On a warm day in early October, the owner-operators of Clover Bee Farm are preparing a delivery for the 43 shareholders that make up their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) vegetable operation. Standing in a hoop house, Andrew Hanson-Pierre cleans dozens of fat onions, while across the farmyard in a barn that’s been converted to a…  Read More

The Grass Master’s Apprentice

An Innovative Farming System Requires Innovative Training One sign that you’re a solid employee is that the boss hates the idea of you walking out the door, never to return. So let’s consider the case of Ryan Heinen, who has worked on the west-central Minnesota dairy farm of Nate and Angie Walter for the past…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: Running it Through the Mill

On an afternoon in late June, west-central Minnesota farmers Anne and Peter Schwagerl walk out of the bright sun into the deep shade of an old granary that has six separate storage areas for various kinds of harvested crops—a throwback to an era when most Midwestern farms produced more than corn and soybeans. On many…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: The Curve of Binding Energy

Okay, calculus lesson of the day, courtesy of some pasture grass, fencing and a herd of ruminants. Calculus, in case you’ve forgotten, is the mathematical study of rates of change. It can be a handy way to calculate where you’re headed and how long it will take to get there. Let’s say you are a…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: Andy Cotter & Irene Genelin

Wheeling into the Future

It’s not every day that you see the words “unicyclists” and “farming” used in the same sentence, but here we go: national and world champion unicyclists Andy Cotter and Irene Genelin launched a farming operation a half-a-dozen years ago. Now, this is the part of the story that cries out for a familiar trope like…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: A Decision-Making Community

Finding the weakest link in a farming operation is often easier said than done. But sometimes a few energetic pigs accomplish the task quite nicely. “Today, fencing suddenly moved up the list as our weakest link,” quips Paul Freid on a brisk day in early May. He and his wife Sara, along with their 11-year-old…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: Sara Morrison

No More Horsing Around

In 2005, Sara Morrison was driving home to Minnesota after spending a few long days at a Saint Louis horse show. Traveling, often with a horse trailer in tow, was nothing new to her. Since getting a degree in equine science eight years before, Morrison had spent much of her life on the road, preparing…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: Derek & Carrie Redden

A Confederacy of Consultants

It’s field day time on this western Minnesota farm, and it’s made clear from the outset that there will no main presenter, no expert from on-high telling it like it is or isn’t, no PowerPoints produced by consultants. This is a field day where farmers learn from other farmers. “You are all consultants,” Richard Ness…  Read More