The FarmPlate Young Farmers Series: David Wells & Sarah Bellos From Stoney Creek Farm
Jeff Gangemi Aug 16, 2012 Young Farmers 0 comments
NAME: David Wells and Sarah Bellos
FARM: Stoney Creek Farm
AGEs: 29 and 29
Can you provide some brief background information about your farm? In your opinion, what makes it special or unique?
Stoney Creek farm is a diversified four-acre permaculture farm with an emphasis on specialty crops like natural dye plants and mushrooms, with some small perennial fruit production. Both David and I have "in-town" jobs and so were seeking a way to slowly begin to make a living off the land. Joel Salatin says go big or go home, but we feel like there is a lot for us to learn taking it season by season and bootstrapping our operation and honing our skills in these more niche crops.
We are excited about natural dyes because, as individual crops they have the potential to play a variety of ecosystem roles: some are nitrogen-fixers, some are companion plants attracting beneficial insects, and some of the perennial dyes can live in the more marginal areas of our land. We are starting a farmer cooperative of other beginning and women farmers growing natural dyes, or farmer grown color as we call it, so we can select crops which are best for each farm environment.
Why do you believe farming is important, particularly for the younger generation, and why did you decide to become a farmer?
The reality of farming in the U.S. is most farm families make their living off of the farm. That is a sad statement considering how hard they work, but it is true. But I believe that we can and should produce the necessities of life within our own country, from food to fiber to fuel. We must work to rebuild the once rich soils of the United States and make sure those farmers taking the risk to do it right can at least take home a living wage. In my own work, I have chosen to build a supply chain within the very specific field of color extracts for industrial and dyeing use. But I believe each person’s lessons, struggles, and successes can help inform other small producers and manufacturers interested in rebuilding sustainable, bio-based value-added products again in the United States. Running an urban community farm for several years allowed me to bear witness to many people's first "farm" experience. There is a connection to the land we have lost in America that I think our new generation is seeking to recall. Farming is the ultimate mix of using your head and your hands. Add to this the urgency of loss of prime farmland to development and lack of credit and other resources for beginning farmers -- how could I not grow?
Photo courtesy of Alan Messer
Note: This post is part of FarmPlate's new series about young farmers. If you want to be included, know someone we should profile or have comments/questions about our series, please contact Jeff Gangemi at email@example.com.