In November, 2013, we bought a farm that we’re calling “Wally’s Farm,” named after the man who farmed and raised his family at this place. Wally lived here from around 1941 until he passed away in spring 2013. He took great pride in this farm, and it shows.
We weren’t exactly looking to purchase a farm this past fall. That is to say, we knew we wanted to buy a farm someday, but we didn’t think that day would be this soon, thought we had our eyes peeled and ears to the ground for the right place. Discouraged with high land prices in our area and less-than-ideal farms in our price range, we thought land ownership was in our distant future.
But, as luck may have it, we met Wally’s family, who were looking to sell the farm to the right buyers. After a few meetings with them, and some long conversations at home, we sealed the deal just before Thanksgiving. It was a process that was meant to be.
Wally’s Farm is a ten-acre parcel carved out of a larger 120-acre piece that his family still owns. There is a big, old farmhouse (built in 1910) with yellow siding that sits on the edge of a three-acre woodlot of mature hardwoods and a few evergreens. We plan to start planting saplings this spring to add some new life to the woods. It’s rare in this area to find a farm that still has a woodlot, and we feel fortunate for the windbreak, especially during this cold and blustery winter.
The house is a large, five-bedroom structure in great shape. We went right to work after closing on the home, tearing up carpet, re-doing floors, painting, and removing wallpaper. We are quickly making it a home again, and we have a lot of plans for future projects.
Besides the house, there are two big, nice sheds on the north side of the road, both built in the 1970s, which is pretty new for most farms around here. They are in good shape, too.
A gravel township road divides our farm in half, with five acres on either side of the road. It is a low-traffic road, and it doesn’t seem like it will be much of an inconvenience.
The south side of the road will be home to our vegetable fields and packing and washing facilities. We have four-plus tillable acres of a clay-loam mix soil. It sits on high ground and gently slopes southward. It’s good, productive, Woodland Township soil – some of the most fertile land in the area. Our plan is to plant a mixture of grasses and legumes this spring to feed the soil for a year before beginning vegetable production in 2015. In the meantime, we will continue to grow at Nick’s parents’ farm four miles east of Wally’s place.
The south side of the road also has a wide lean-to, which faces south, into the field. We plan on using this as a packing shed, where we wash and package the vegetables. We may also move our walk-in cooler in this building. Next to that, there stands a large white barn, to which we still haven’t assigned a purpose. The barn has about 20 dairy stations, with a metal roof, and has been taken care of over its life. Maybe we’ll get dairy cows – who knows!
More than anything, this farm gives us a sense of permanence. While we have been farming in the area for five years, we were growing on rented land. We have been moving our life around in boxes every other year or so so we could make our farming goals work. Owning land allows us a greater sense responsibility, of meaning, and of stewardship for that land and the surrounding community. We feel incredibly fortunate and we are so excited to carry on the farming tradition at Wally’s place. Thank you to all of you who were part of the process and believed that this farm was meant to become the next chapter for families adventures in growing food for our community.