The Frankenfield Family
Tell us about your family's farm.
My wife Tanya and I are raising the 7th generation on the farm in Elroy, Montgomery County. We have 3 children, Delaney 13, Tanner 10 and Sage 2. As I grew up on the farm I began raising and selling vegetables at a roadside stand. That picnic table expanded when we built an addition onto our pole barn creating Frankenfield Farm Market starting in 2002. Andrew’s father Dale has beef cattle at the farm and focuses on the field crops while Andrew manages the produce business, but each work in all aspects of the farm. The key crops we grow are sweet corn, tomatoes, cut flowers and pumpkins, we also raise a variety of other produce to supply the farm market. Field crops include corn, soybeans, hay and straw.
You work as an extension agent for Penn State. What are your areas of focus?
I am on the Field Crops and Forages Team with Penn State Extension. I teach Pesticide Education. Some of the areas I focus on are hay, forage and biofuels and I also participate in On-Farm Research trials..
What are some of the emerging programs through Penn State that will be of value to farmers?
The PA Soybean On-farm Network is a field-scale research program which we are testing many products on-farms to see if they consistently improve yield and justify the expense of the treatment. Biofuels continue to be an area where Penn State Extension is doing significant research on non-food crops that can be grown on marginal land to produce renewable energy.
You serve as an animal care coordinator for Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. What does that position entail?
I am a resource locally if there is a concern from the public over an animal care issue that arises on a local farm. Animal Care Coordinators can help resolve animal cruelty complaints by identifying normal farming practices to the public and regulators.
You have a farm and work in an area that is increasingly urbanized. What steps do family farms have to take to survive or compete against development?
As I noticed at a young age, there is demand for local food and there are a lot of consumers in our area. I transitioned our farm to a produce farm selling directly to local consumers at our farm market. Farmers in this area need to look for those opportunities that they have to capitalize on the growing non-farm population around them. Examples of that include: retail farm markets, agritainment, hay, straw and many other products or services.
Are you optimistic about the future of agriculture?
Yes, I am. Recently there has been significant interest by consumers about where there their food comes from. While this interest has created some confusion and backlash by the public about GMOs, overall this is beneficial for agriculture. I enjoy working with new and beginning farmers and help them get started farming. It is nice to see young people with a passion for farming or learn that farming is really hard work and maybe not for them.
Lastly, why are you a Farm Bureau member?
I feel it is necessary for farmers to have a voice in Harrisburg and Washington. Since we are only 1 or 2 percent of the population farmers would be overlooked and legislation could be created that would be limiting or detrimental for farmers. I can’t be up-to-date on all legislation but with PFB’s email news updates and Voter Voice automated email system, it’s easy to know what is going on and easy to contact my legislator.