The Farmers (continued)

farmers2Kyle is originally from Richland Center, Wisconsin where he was raised on a beautiful 5-acres with woods and hills all around.  Kyle decided to pursue a degree in Soil Science because of his love and respect for the environment.  After earning his diploma, Kyle was unsure of what to do with his shiny new degree (like most grads).  He knew that he loved plants, soil and growing things and he knew that he wanted to help the Earth, but beyond that, he wasn’t sure how that could pay the bills.  He applied for several jobs at the DNR and greenhouses around the state before finding a posting on Craigslist for a farm laborer.  Kyle called looking for temporary work and the job at Tipi Produce was his weeks later.

Lauren was born and raised on a farm south of Madison.  Her parents raise pork and steers along with 140 acres of hay, corn and alfalfa.  It was a beautiful place to grow up, but like most farm kids, she dreamed of a “better” future.  Lauren began college at Ohio Wesleyan University pursuing a degree in Latin American Studies and Political Science, hoping to find a career that took her far from the farm and all around the world.  After two years in Ohio, she decided to take a break from school to travel, work and figure out a more concrete plan for her future before continuing her education.  Lauren met Kyle during this year off and wound up transferring to the University of Wisconsin.  It was during her time in Madison that Lauren realized how spectacular her childhood was and how much she respected her parents’ farming lifestyle.

Together in 2012, Kyle and Lauren attended the MOSES Organic Farming Conference in La Crosse.  All of their questions about where to go in their future were answered.  Kyle and Lauren learned at this conference that you didn’t need to go to school to be a farmer (most didn’t); there were books, organizations and wonderfully wise, friendly farmers everywhere happy to share their knowledge with a couple of young enthusiastic amateurs.

Kyle and Lauren felt empowered and motivated.  They were meant to farm together.  Kyle loved science, manual labor and growing things.  Lauren loved record-keeping, people and marketing.  That summer Kyle and Lauren began making plans to begin a small 2-acre CSA and farmer’s market farm on a plot of Lauren’s parents’ land the subsequent season. We’ve grown from 8 members and 3/4 of an acre in production that first season to 65 members in this fourth season and our first part-time crew member!

A small farm, though a beautiful enterprise, certainly does not pay the bills in its first few years. For the time being, Kyle works January through May at Kopke’s Fruit of the Bloom Greenhouse in Oregon.  Lauren works part-time at Midwest Environmental Advocates, a small non-profit in Madison as the Administrative & Financial Coordinator. Lauren also loves to blog in her free time and is trying to get more freelance writing gigs!


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