The Adventures of Twenty Years in Farming
This season will be our twentieth at Maple Wind Farm. Beth and I are taking some time to reflect on our adventure up to this point and what the future holds for the farm as we move forward.
One of the seminal moments from our early days surfaced immediately. Our friend Mark had ordered a whole pig from the farm, one of the first, and was visiting the farm to pick it up. We knew Mark from our days running our adventure travel business, “On the Loose Expeditions”, a full-service wilderness guide service offering mountaineering, back country skiing and sea kayaking trips around the world.
As I toured Mark around the farm, we talked about the health benefits of raising animals on pasture and the healthy and delicious meats and eggs they produce.
Then he hit me with a question I didn’t expect: “All I hear about is how people are getting out of farming, but you folks are just getting started. Why are you doing this?” Up till then, we’d been operating on a vaguely articulated, yet burning, desire to grow our own food, but no one had ever asked us why!
I stumbled a bit. I had never had to spell out exactly why. I focused first on the daily work of farming on pasture: “I’m outside and moving all the time.” “Every day presents a new challenge, a problem to solve, a TON of learning!” “You really have to give it your full focus and commitment.”
I stopped for a moment, realizing that this wasn’t really at the heart of why we started doing this. “The reason we got started is that we wanted to find a healthy alternative to all those mass-produced, highly processed foods you find in the supermarket. We discovered that there are many folks on the same journey. There’s nothing better than passionately hearing from one of our friends about how good our meats and eggs made them feel.”
Mark thought about this for awhile as we headed back from the pig paddock. “I see the connection now. This is really a lot like one of your wilderness expeditions. Lots of challenge, some risk and being outside and connected to nature. It’s really about adventure...seems like a great career change for an aging mountaineer!”
Beth and I have spent some time asking the question: what is adventure? The best definition we could come up with is: “outcome uncertain.” This sums up the wild ride we started in 1999… from our first animals roaming pasture to our first tastes of beef, pork, eggs, chicken and turkey raised and processed on the farm. We remember the butterflies of making investments in the farm. And all the wonderful people that have given back to us in myriad ways helping us work our way back from the major challenges of wind, flood, fire and re-building. They were there for us when we us questioning our ability to continue. All this uncertainty was clearly fuel to our fire. But most of all, it’s been the adventure of connecting with people who are looking for clean, healthy, ethically-raised products that have spurred us on.
In 2019 and the next twenty years, we will make a lot of changes, a few big, most small, but all will focus on learning more about what YOU need and how we can better serve YOU. We hope you will continue to join us on this grand adventure!