Farming: The times they are a changin’…

My youngest graduated from high school a couple of nights ago. I don’t know how that sneaked up on me like it did. Seems like (insert crotchety old voice here) the years went by way too fast. But here I am now with three kids college age and older, and the time seems to go by faster each day!

My kids were unique in their school. They live on a farm. Growing up on a farm isn’t as common as it used to be. In fact, for most of us in this area it is becoming downright rare. I think when I was in high school there may have been one or two other farm kids in my class. Today I’m guessing its even less than that, if that’s possible.  Our connection to farms is fast disappearing. If you talk to your grandpa or grandma, they can almost always tell you stories about the farm when they were a kid. If they didn’t grow up on a farm, they had friends who did.  In fact, just a hundred years ago over 30 percent of the work force in this country was on a farm. Today that number is around 2 percent. And yet we produce more food than ever!

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Neil Moelker collecting the eggs

Farms were different back then. Most farmers produced almost everything they needed to eat. My grandparents had cows (milk and beef), a pig or two (pork), chickens (eggs and meat), a very large vegetable garden, fruit trees, grapes, corn and wheat. They canned hundreds of quarts of just about everything for their winter supplies. And they sold the excess for their income. Grandpa even made communion wine from his grapes for some of the local churches! They lived very much off the land and all of their hard work. The average American farm in the 1930’s fed 4 people.

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John, Neil and Gerrit Moelker working in the garden. 1922

Farms today are much more specialized. On our farm our focus is tree fruits. While we grow some vegetables to sell at our market, we haven’t had any livestock on the farm since I was a kid. And while we still have a garden, much of our family’s food comes from the grocery store. And today the average American farm feeds 155 people.

We don’t want people to forget where their food comes from. That’s why we do school class tours in the fall and teach the kids (and parents and teachers) about growing fruit. And we hope to have some family farm tour days in August(more details to come!) And if you ever have questions about what we do on our farm, feel free to ask!

Hope you have a fruitful week!

Tom Moelker

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