Brenda Kirsch, St. Paul, Ore.: Brenda's grandfather started this farm more than 60 years ago as a dryland farm. Her father took over in the 1970's, and Brenda is now being transitioned in to run this 1,000-acre operation. In the last 30 years, irrigation was added to three quarters of their ground. With water and great soil, the farm is very diversified. The farm includes perennial ryegrass, hazelnuts, straw, wheat, green beans, squash, and crimson clover. Products are sold worldwide through farmer-owned co-ops, and other processors and distributors.
Eric McClam, Columbia, S.C.: Eric is co-founder and owner of City Roots. This 3.5-acre farm in South Carolina includes approximately 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables, bees and chickens. The farm does extensive crop rotations, cover cropping, and composting for soil fertility and pest management. It produces microgreens year round, grows culinary mushrooms, and operates an aquaponic system which is the combination of aquaculture, the production of commercial fish (tilapia), and hydroponics.
Tim Nilsen, Wilton, Calif.: Tim is a contract turkey grower in California. Nilsen Farms was established in 1983 by Tim's father, Norm. The farm has continuously evolved to become one of the most state-of-the-art poultry facilities in the U.S. They have been named "Grower of the Year" from their major customer for seven straight years. With the implementation of modern technology, Nilsen Farms is able to continuously monitor the conditions of the birds automatically.
Katie Pratt, Dixon, Ill.: Katie and her husband Andy (a seventh generation farmer) raise corn, soybeans and seed corn for a regional family-owned company. Welcoming tour groups to their farm is a family tradition starting back in the early 1970's when Andy's grandfather hosted students from Chicago-area schools on his dairy farm. They currently farm in partnership with Andy's family and have two children.