“Farming fits into the rest of the world…

Aaron Johnson at the Chicken Processing Facility, Smith Meadows

Aaron Johnson at the Chicken Processing Facility, Smith Meadows

…like food fits into the mouths of the world,” says Aaron Johnson.  Smith Meadows’ farm manager in training, he has come to our farm through West Virginia 4H.  Growing up with visits to a family farm near his home in Elkins, WV, Aaron learned the basic steps in tending to land and animals.  Although it wasn’t until he came to Smith Meadows that he realized how complex and fulfilling farming can be.

Aaron has brought a lot of positive energy to our daily operation.  His constant optimism, humor and smile make working together a true pleasure.  In an interview about his experiences on the farm this year, Aaron reveals how much he has learned already, and how he hopes to put it to good use in his life.

What drew you to farming?

My family owns land in North Central West Virginia, where we have tended a small herd of 15-20 cattle over multiple generations. We would travel 45 minutes each way to check the cattle on weekends.  Every June and July we bailed hay.  The calves would usually end up at the stock sale.  I have always had an affinity for living things of all kinds and the conservation of natural resources.  In a quest for a simpler life I have pursued out-door activities where I could use my hands.  I like the challenge of making a living by farming and the utilitarian aspects involved.

How did you find Smith Meadows?

Forrest Pritchard and Aaron discuss the new shop floor

Forrest Pritchard and Aaron discuss the new shop floor

In a chain of events that spanned 15+ years through my cousins and the West Virginia 4H system, I came to know Forrest and his farm.  Prior to Smith Meadows I worked for a turf-grass sod farm for 6+ years where I focused on estimates, bidding, commercial and residential sod installation, and personnel management.  As for how I chose to come this farm, we chose each other.

How would you describe your experiences here?

Physically and mentally stimulating, I have acquired vast amounts of skills in farming and other parts of the business. This farm and what I have learned will be an integral part of the rest of my life.  I hope to turn our own family farm into a working, profitable farm again.

What are some of the biggest surprises you have encountered in farming so far?

  • Contrary to popular thought, farming can be profitable
  • The best book or website doesn’t really prepare you for farming
  • Farming does not necessarily = TRACTOR
  • Animals make every day interesting

How does farming fit into the rest of the world?

Farming fits into the rest of the world like food fits into the mouths of the world.

Nancy Polo

Nancy is a first generation Italian-American who makes good food and thinks about it. She has lived on this farm since 1998.