Along with growing and selling commercial hay to supplement his income, Ken Sills also spends his time raising and racing pigeons. Sills shares a photo of himself as a kid alongside his dad. NRCS photo.
Ken Sills has had difficulties getting water to his hayfields for years, impacting his ability to use his Grand Junction, Colorado land efficiently.
“I just couldn’t get irrigation to the back of my place,” Sills said. “I tried a ditch and siphon tubes, but there were areas that were not getting water, so that’s when I went to the NRCS.”
In his quest for help, he found USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and staff there helped him install an efficient irrigation system. The system included an above-ground conveyance system, gated piping and a small concrete distribution structure that now provides irrigation water to about five acres of grass hay. Read more »
The Rosmann’s have a retail store on the farm where they sell a wide variety of goods to visiting consumers. NRCS photo.
In many respects, Ron and Maria Vakulskas Rosmann’s “Farm Sweet Farm” is a typical Iowa farm. The Rosmann’s grow corn, soybeans, cattle and hogs.
But that’s where the similarities with traditional farming operations end. A certified organic producer since 1994, the 700-acre farm near Harlan, Iowa is home to a remarkable amount of diversity — above and below the ground.
“Last year, we planted 26 different species of seeds, and this is typical,” Ron said. Read more »
Priscilla Williamson, NRCS supervisory district conservationist, (left), enjoys seeing all the varieties of tomatoes ripening in the newly constructed seasonal high tunnel.
Hattie Thompson has a heart for growing healthy food for her community thanks to the help of her new seasonal high tunnel.
“My mission is to network throughout the local community with other growers who might be interested in doing the same thing, and to teach children and mothers about nutrition,” said Thompson, who farms in Leake County, Mississippi.
After 50 years of city life in Wisconsin, Thompson and her husband moved to the country near Carthage, Mississippi, when they inherited some land 10 years ago. The small six-acre farm is landscaped with fruit trees and an abundance of beautiful flowers. Chickens, guineas and turkeys also call the farm home. Read more »
Andy and Melissa Dunham, seen here with daughter Leonora, own and operate Grinnell Heritage Farm in Grinnell, Iowa. NRCS photo by Ron Nichols.
Some people are born to farm. Others grow to love it. In Melissa Dunham’s case, she fell in love with a farmer — and now she loves both the farmer and the farm.
“I was happily employed in the Twin Cities, but then I fell in love with this wonderful man who told me he was an organic vegetable farmer,” Melissa said. “I thought, ‘Sure, why not?’ We got married within seven months.”
It was an unexpected career and life change. “Everybody thought I was nuts moving down here to central Iowa to be a farmer,” she said. But now she’s growing food she believes in — and in a way that will leave the land in better condition for the generations to follow. Read more »
Jonathan and Jessica Gaskin and children operate a dairy farm in Adair County, Kentucky. Photo courtesy Kentucky Farm Bureau.
Jonathan Gaskin grew up on a beef cattle and grain farm in Adair County, Kentucky. And at 12, Gaskin was milking cows for the farm next door. The neighbor sold their farm when he was 18, and at that time, he always knew he wanted to have a dairy farm – he just didn’t realize he would buy that same farm a few years later.
He bought the farm in 2006 and started working with his soon-to-be wife, Jessica, to build a dairy operation together. They married in 2008 and started growing the 110-acre place.
“We started with 30 heifers and calved them one cow at a time,” Gaskin said. Read more »
Ann Pringle Washington enjoys growing a variety of fresh vegetables on her farm. NRCS photo by Sabrenna Bryant.
South Carolina small farmer and community leader Ann Pringle Washington wears many hats. Along with her husband Richard, they share a deep tie to the land on their 17-acre farm in Eastover and a true passion for improving the community where they live.
Ann’s desire to learn more about how to grow organic produce led her to attend outreach workshops hosted by the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District. The district partners with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to promote local and sustainable organic agriculture at workshops, including the assistance that NRCS can provide to growers. Read more »