People get into farming for all kinds of reasons. As for Matt Szechenyi, he’s always enjoyed helping people, and feels that as a farmer who produces natural, nutrient-dense foods, he’s doing just that. At Briars Farmstead, Matt cultivates food on land that’s been in his family for more than 70 years, though he wasn’t always a farmer. While he says that farming isn’t quite the romantic endeavor some make it out to be, he considers it a privilege to be able to do what he does. Despite the many challenges, he loves providing healthy food to people and giving back to the land — especially in a time when our food systems really need it.
Raw milk remains a very controversial topic. Kelly Hensing, however, is a major advocate for it. Her family farm, Hensing’s Hilltop Acres, was one of the first in the state of Maryland to be allowed to sell raw milk, albeit as pet milk. Her passion for raw milk extends to other natural, whole foods, and she credits her family’s shift in diet with resolving a lot of their health issues. It should be unsurprising, therefore, that she wanted to share that food with others, despite a lack of previous farming experience. We talked to Kelly about all this and more, including why raw milk is so taboo, and why natural food isn’t as expensive as you think.
Joan Bybee of Mesteño Draw Ranch is indeed a modern farmer. Though the traditional image of a farmer is someone who grew up on a farm and continued to farm their entire life, this is not true for Joan. Rather, she had a long, successful career in linguistics, and upon retiring, decided she wanted to restore the natural areas on her small ranch. Naturally, as grazing cattle can help with this, she decided to get a small herd of cows, and now — after 40 years of a totally different profession — she’s a rancher. Despite the fact that the number of farmers is decreasing in the United States, it’s farmers and ranchers like Joan who remind us that plenty of people are going back to the land — to manage it, care for it, and cultivate food on it, in ways that are both healthy for the environment, and for people.