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Family

Posted 1/8/2014 3:44pm by Bryn Bird.

            

            Growing-up, as brother and sister, the Lee and Bryn could not have been more different. Being one-year apart in school we often had teachers who did not realize or believe we were siblings until late in the school year. Lee’s quiet and insightful demeanor was a stark contrast to Bryn’s overtly extroverted personality. However, despite the outward differences, the foundation of our character was built upon a passion for sustainable agriculture, community, and family.  As brother and sister, we were shaped by the decision our father, Tom, made when at fifty years old he decided to follow his passion; going against the societal norms to purchase a 110-acre farm in Central Ohio. Watching our parents make this decision and move our family from the city to the country instilled in us a deep aspiration to follow one’s passion and 

to never stop striving to achieve our dreams. As city kids from Colorado we seemed to be the outcasts the first few years of school in rural Ohio. It was through our many projects and activities in local 4-H clubs and our FFA chapter that we found community and a real understanding of farm life. Our perception and appreciation of family was shaped by the early mornings completing chores and late nights lambing in the barn. We both went off to college and beyond but our passion to be on the land, in sustainable agriculture, and with our family has brought us back to the family operation. Though the farm has been in operation since 1995 under the direct guidance of our parents; now, sixteen years later, we have officially formed an L.L.C. partnership and look to transition the farm from one generation to the next. It is our turn to make what once was “just a dream” into a thriving multiple family and generation farm.

            During the early years Bird’s Haven Farms was like many central Ohio farms concentrating on corn and soybeans. However, with a limited amount of land our family knew that grain would not create a sustainable business. Our father loved gardening and began to realize the size of our farm, while not perfect for corn was perfect for produce. In 2005 we began phasing out commodity crops and by 2011 we were solely cultivating specialty crops. We began to offer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscriptions and utilize high-tunnel technology to extend our growing season. The cultivating and harvesting of produce was taught to us at a young age in our father's garden and our crops have thrived. However, the cultivation of a business and operational management continues to be a challenge. Until 2010, the family farming operation was subsidized by our father’s employment as a veterinarian. However, as we transition the farm from our parent’s generation to the brother/sister partnership of this generation it is our goal to be completely viable and sustainable without the need for a second income or off-the-farm job. The growing local food moevement has allowed the current farm operations to expand and hopefully become economically viable enough to support the next generation.

          The blessing of having land and a childhood in agriculture has never been lost on the two of us. We understand the value in the gift our parents gave us through our education and the purchase of the farm. Through our experience and challenges faced during the operations growth and the difficulties in the transition we greatly respect other young and beginning famers. Our operation, Bird’s Haven Farms, has already become a place of training and mentoring. Our farm is located five miles from Denison University and has hosted interns from their sustainable agriculture course, volunteers from various student groups, summer work-training programs, and also through Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s apprentice program.  One of our great aspirations is to be not only a highly productive farm but also a thriving business and a model to other central Ohio beginning farmers. As others have helped us grow we also want to learn how to help teach others about the business of farming and how to plan for a better business - not just a better season.

        Over the next five years our goal is to create an operation where our parents can step away from the operational management and financial obligations of the farm. Our desire is to create a business partnership that will support both Lee and Bryn’s growing families. We are hopeful this dream can be achieved by the committment of our community in our farm and by the increased desire by institutional buyers in central Ohio to purchase local produce. 

     As we enter 2014 we cannot wait to see where this season takes us and the community we will meet along the way!