I'm proud to come from a farming heritage and to have been an organic farmer myself for much of my life. My grandparents were Norwegian immigrant farmers who came Minnesota to work the land. When I first moved to Maine as a teenager, like many other back-to-landers, I had a copy of Helen and Scott Nearing's "Living the Good Life" in hand. It was 1971 and big business (and big subsidies) was just starting to define American agriculture. I had chosen a different path however, and, with a degree in human ecology and the small and sustainable model the Nearings described in mind, I started an organic farm on the island of North Haven, Maine (population 381.)
That early effort was a success—not only was I able to sell produce locally but the sheep I raised supported a knitting and yarn business that created jobs in our tiny community and a product that was sold nationally.
I've been happy to pick up farming again in recent years and a few years ago opened Nebo Lodge and Restaurant on North Haven. Much of the food we serve at the restaurant comes from Turner Farm on the island, which we have been working to bring back to the production levels it had in the 1800s and 1900s. We grow all kinds of produce, and have goats, pigs, chickens, cows, and more.
It's been a real thrill to see this small saltwater farm come back to life, fueled by the local-food movement that has been so good for family farms across Maine. But like life on any farm, it's not without its challenges. It's given me a lot of perspective on the policies we need to change to continue that growth. As I work in Washington to support local farms and help more people access healthy local food, I would love to hear your stories and ideas about our agriculture policies. Click here to share your story.