One windy April morning, I pulled into the drive of Easy Yoke Farms and was told today, I would be planting potatoes. Okay, I wouldn’t be planting, I would be riding on the tractor while Daniel and Hannah Miller planted potatoes.
Over the past six years, the Millers have turned a previously conventional farmed piece of land into a prosperous organic farm.
Daniel had a new implement he was excited to try, an Italian piece of machinery used to dig, plant and cover potatoes two rows at a time. Useful tools like this potato planter often come from overseas, he says, as most American machinery is made for larger commercial farms. Overseas, especially in Italy, small farms are still the norm.
Neither Hannah nor Daniel come from farm families, though they both worked on farms in college. They are part of a growing movement of younger people returning to the land.
When asked why they farm organically, Hannah says, “It’s the food I want to eat, the food I feel comfortable selling people. It’s not just about the absence of chemicals, it’s the presence of living soil.”
The soil is incredibly important to Hannah and Daniel. Their first year on the farm, there was hardly any life in the soil, no bugs or earthworms to speak of. But after just one year without spraying or applying pesticides or fertilizers, the soil became alive, bugs and earthworms returned. Now, six years later, life both visible and microscopic thrive in their soil.
“It really is amazing to see how quickly things bounce back,” says Hannah.
Daniel also shares in this awe of the land and what it is capable of. As he maneuvered the tractor through the potato field, son in his lap, he talked about the miracle of farming, the importance of organic, and how thankful he is that people believe in buying local and supporting farmers like he and his wife, keeping the connection open between food and farmer.