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CRAFT Beginning Farmer Field Day: I have farmland! Now what?

By Shelbie Blank, Farmer Training Program Manager

My Mom, Caren, and I were driving along the Illinois and Wisconsin border when it started pouring. We were en route to Grassroots Farm in Monroe, WI to learn about Lindsey Morris Carpenter’s farm. This was my first CRAFT field day since I moved back from Arizona and I was really excited to get back out onto our members farms. The rain didn’t deter us and I’m glad we stuck it out; the clouds hung out but the rain stopped, and a nice breeze kept the humidity from overtaking us. 

The CRAFT field day was themed “Beginning Farmer Field Day: I have farmland! Now what?” The attendees for the field day included myself, my mother, Lindsey, an NRCS agent, a couple very interested in farming as a living but had not gotten started yet, two new single female farmers just getting things started, a single female farmer who was in the process of purchasing land and Colby-Chevre, one of farmer Lindsey’s trusty dogs.

We parked at the top of the driveway because the slope was too steep for most cars. We moseyed down the driveway listening to Lindsey give a very detailed background of how her farm came about. We learned that after two years of consistently searching for land, Lindsey and her mother Gail found a parcel of 40 acres that they jumped on. The land contained only one wooden barn and a windmill well and a lot of thistle that farmer Lindsey has since tamed.

Lindsey manages most of the farm operation while her mother secures off-farm income to pay the mortgage among other tasks around the farm. Over the last five years or so Lindsey and Gail have obtained two Frontera Foundation grants which helped them build a two story pack shed and put in a pressurized well. They have also received funding from NRCS to build a berm to divert water from washing her vegetable beds away.

Aside from this funding Lindsey makes on-farm income during the growing season by selling 45 smaller CSA vegetable shares with the option to ‘upgrade’ to a larger share for those interested in a bigger variety. Her surplus product she takes to a farmers market in the Chicago area. She also has some other accounts with restaurants and processors.

Aside from vegetable production Lindsey also raises cows, lambs, hogs, turkeys (for Thanksgiving), chicken (for meat and eggs; around 2-3 dozen per drop). In the winter she sells 20 meat shares. Although she lives closer to Madison she said she benefits more from the extra 50 mile drive to Chicago.

We almost needed 2 more hours to really get a full tour of Grassroots Farm but farmer Lindsey did a great job on informing us about her journey to becoming the farmer she is now. She sent us home with paper bags of heirloom tomatoes as our farm souvenir. Thank you Lindsey for the wonderful farm tour and thorough look into your farm journey.  


Interested in becoming a 
member of CRAFT? Check out www.learngrowconnect.org/craft.  To learn more about CRAFT Field Days visit www.learngrowconnect.org/craft-field-days.
See what else the Farmer Training Inititiatve at Angelic Organics Learning Center has to offer at www.learngrowconnect.org/farmer

The BermRouge ChickenRouge Chicken Approaches GroupWindmillThe Dreaded ThistleColby-ChevrePastureFarmer Lindsey and Her TurkeysGrassroots Farm and Field Day Group