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: Micro Goals-Big Plans

Walking down a sloping lane on a spring afternoon, Luke and Liana Tessum surprise an Angus beef cow wandering up from a bottomland paddock. The lone bovine, and 18 cow-calf pairs grazing on the pasture below, represent the reaching of what the 30-something couple calls yet one more “micro-goal.” In December, the Tessums paid off…  Read More

A Dairy Farm Rises From the Ashes

Not long ago, Rich and Carol Radtke were on a bit of a roll. They had graduated from the Land Stewardship Project’s Farm Beginnings course and felt the program had provided them a solid basis for developing a profitable farming operation on land they and their three children moved to in 2008. Before taking the…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: The Return of the Middleman

Farm Beginnings Grads Join Forces on the Marketing Front

Even a brief conversation with Tom Cogger makes it clear what he enjoys doing: producing food. And that’s what he’s done on his Maple Hill Farm near Washburn in northwestern Wisconsin for almost two decades. In the early years, Cogger concentrated mostly on produce, but since his son Matthew joined the operation in 2009, pork…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: The Incubator Acre

A to Z's Mini-Plot is a Vital Link in the Beginning Farmer Chain

When Lauren Barry pulls a weed or harvests a tomato this summer, she’s doing so on a one-acre plot of land steeped in history. Not the ancient, dusty kind that may or may not have relevance to the current situation, but history rooted in recent growing seasons, when other beginning farmers faced the same meteorological,…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: Mike & Linda Reil

Rolling with the Prairie Punches

Every budding farm enterprise goes through that certain stage at least once—the one where setbacks outnumber successes, careful planning gets bushwhacked by forces beyond one’s control and the learning curve can resemble a roller coaster headed in one direction: up. It’s at that period in an enterprise’s life that minimal risk is a farm’s best…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: Amy Haben & Tom Moore

Making a Farm a Working Asset

Amy Haben and Tom Moore ride a golf cart over a rickety wooden bridge spanning Otter Creek and follow a path to a lush pasture where a couple dozen head of Scottish Highland cattle graze, their shaggy coats luminescent in the late afternoon sun of a June day. “Before they grazed the edge of the…  Read More

Lake Superior Farm Beginnings: Helping Keep ‘A Lion on a Leash’

Five years into her farming career, Janna Goerdt has learned a lot about how to use sweat equity to coax the most production out of the soils of Fat Chicken Farm near Embarrass. But the 40-year-old former journalist has also gotten savvy about how to set some sustainable limits on both her farm and herself.…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: Jason & Juli Montgomery-Riess

Pacing the Path to Success

Sometimes, there’s nothing like a speed bump to send you on your way toward that ultimate goal. In the case of Jason and Juli Montgomery-Riess, that slight detour was in the form of the Land Stewardship Project’s Farm Beginnings course. Before taking the class, both had worked on some of the top produce operations in…  Read More

Farm Beginnings: Stacking Up the Advantages

The temperature hovers a few degrees above zero and fresh snow swirls around their feet as Bryan Crigler and Katelyn Foerster bend into a fierce wind and head into a stand of walnut trees on a recent January day. In contrast to the wild woods, neat rows of ironwood logs are leaning on wires amidst…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: John & Heidi Wise

Dairy Farming's Pit Bulls

When you’re wallowing in the pit of despair, it helps to know that others have preceded you and survived. And for John and Heidi Wise, they have another pit-beater: they didn’t exactly jump in without giving it some careful forethought. After more than a decade of classes, working with mentors, business planning and searching, the…  Read More