Tell us about your operation:
I’m third generation on a dairy, but we don’t dairy anymore. The cows left in 1987. I spent 23 years in the ministry, and I came back to the farm eight years ago. We have some beef—miniature Texas longhorns and we want to get more into beef. In addition, we grow produce, including sweet corn, watermelons and cantaloupe and also have hay. At the farm we also operate a licensed catering business. We sell our produce on roadside stands. Dealing with wildlife, from birds to bears, is a challenge. Last year we lost a lot of sweet corn and pumpkins to porcupines. They climb up and eat corn right off the stalk. We have challenges with all kinds of critters.
How did you get started in the catering business?
I spent 23 years in the ministry and my wife and I got to love cooking. At our last church, where we spent 11 years, we did a lot of cooking. After coming back to the farm, people started asking me to cook. Eventually, we put in a commercial kitchen, and my wife and I really enjoy the work. I’m in charge of cooking the meats, and she does most everything else. We do a lot of smaller events, but we’ve done events of up to 250 people. That’s a lot for the two of us. We cater most everything. We work with gas companies, we do birthday parties to wedding venues, and whatever else people want. We have a full schedule of baking and events over Christmas.
How did you get into the ministry? Are you still active?
I am not a full-time pastor, but I do work and lead small group and leadership development for some churches. That is why I was asked to speak during the Inspirational Pause at last year’s Annual Meeting. I grew up in local church and helped in everything but pastoring. I only left the farm because God had something else for me to do. I’m surprised I had the chance to come back to the farm.
You are involved in the state’s Agriculture Promotion Committee. Why is ag promotion important?
I think we need to promote what we do. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and a disconnect with consumers. We need to fix that. People eat because of the good job we do. There are a variety of ways we can make ourselves known and get people educated. It is a role we need to play. If we don’t step up and educate people someone else will.
What local agriculture promotion activities are Susquehanna County Farm Bureau members involved in?
The biggest involvement we have is a booth at the county fair where we sell apples and milk. We do a promotion at a rest area on Interstate 81. We serve different things throughout the year, and raise awareness for people who pass through. That is a unique opportunity we have because many of the people who pass through are not from the area. We also have a booth at the local fiber fest. We are also active at getting the Mobile Ag Ed Science Labs to appear at local schools.
Are you optimistic about the future of agriculture?
If we don’t have an optimistic future we are not going to eat, we are not going to survive. Our primary goal is to keep regulations under control. That is why policy development is so key and why Farm Bureau is so important. We have to keep the regulations down so we can farm in a reasonable way. Like with the EPA “waters of the U.S.” issue, we could end up so strangled that we won’t be able to farm. I think Farm Bureau does a great job of being a unified voice.
Lastly, why are you a Farm Bureau member?
I’m Farm Bureau proud. Farmers are independent folks. This gives us a place to have a strong voice. I appreciate the stand we have in Harrisburg and Washington. It is the best organization to be part of and make a difference.