Begin Farming Ohio

Home | Profiles | Search | News | Resources | Contact | About

Full-time Farmers | Part-time Farmers

Bergstrands started a CSA operation in 2008, selling four shares.

A New Farm in a New State for New Farmers

Bergstrand Shares his Wisdom.

It is important to network and to get to know as many different farmers as you can. Take your questions. They are eager to share what they know and this will be very helpful. You will likely be hesitant to do this as you may not feel like a real farmer and you may feel like you don’t know what you want to ask. Search out organizations like Innovative Farmers of Ohio and programs like Wisdom in the Land.

Benjamin (Benji) Bergstrand who, with his wife, operates Root Down Farm in Northwest Ohio leasing one acre of land feels good about his future as a farmer. He is confident that he will get to the point when he can decrease his full-time off-farm employment to part-time. Benji is hopeful that sometime in the future he can devote a full-time commitment to farming. For right now he sees a future that grows his Community-Supported Agriculture subscriptions and that includes participation in a farmers’ market.

To increase the sustainability of their farm, Benji made several significant changes that result from his participation in Wisdom in the Land.

Resources. Planning is a challenge for the Bergstrands so Benji got a business planning guide for sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs, entitled Building a Sustainable Business, available through The Sustainable Agriculture Network. He and has wife have started to work through the exercises that they find helpful. As time and money are limited resources and factors they want to consider as they evaluate the profitability of their part-time farm, for the first time Bergstrands are tracking the hours and money spent on the farm and intend to evaluate the return on their investment (ROI). Another book available through The Sustainable Agriculture Network, Building Soils for Better Crops has been a wonderful resource for understanding challenges related to soil on the farm. In conversation with a more experienced farmer Bergstrands understand theirs is a clay soil and compaction a serious problem. They are adding organic matter and working to break up the hard pan. To attract beneficial insects, Bergstrands have started to let sections of the farm grow naturally. In 2008 Benji participated in a program for beginning farmers sponsored by Innovative Farmers of Ohio and the annual of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA). Through these experiences he met a variety of farmers, had many helpful conversations, learned from presenters, and was introduced to many organizations likely to be helpful resources in the future.

Production. Benji uses a Super-Light Insect Barrier row cover on the cucumbers, melons, broccoli, and cabbage and to help control rabbit damage. He picks flea beetles off the cucumbers. He picks the eggs of squash bugs. For weed control Benji uses mulch.

Business. In 2008 Bergstrands decided to invest more of the limited time in their garden motivated primarily by the expected benefits to their own health. They did also start a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operation, selling four shares this first season. The decision to calculate their earned farm wage is a planning tool through which they will develop their ability to make discretionary decisions about what is financially successful and a contributor to their goal of Benji’s transition from full-time to part-time off-farm employment.

Contact Information:

Benjamin Bergstrand

Root Down Farm
216 N. Lawn Ave.
Bluffton, OH 45817

Allen County

419-358-0923
benjaminnyle@gmail.com

Benji farmed for one year at a 1.5 acre urban farm in Chicago and one year in Ohio when, in 2006 he and his wife started to grow vegetables and flowers using organic production methods. They offer many specialty varieties such as heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, purple carrots, and mache. Benji has a 9-month position as a teacher. The Bergstrands share the joy of their seasonal farming with their pre-schooler.