Andrea (Andy) Hazzard grows and mills 30 acres of ancient and heirloom grains at Hazzard Free Farm in northern Illinois, from black beans and red corn to emmer, spelt, einkorn, and oats. Returning to her family farm, she originally began growing vegetables, but gravitated back to grains – with a twist on what her family and her neighbors are doing. We get into the nitty gritty of growing and handling specialty grains, and the differences between planning and marketing a shelf-stable product and planning and marketing vegetables. Along the way, we get into the challenges of working with a distributor, the joys of working with family, and the special demands of farming as a woman.
Farmigo: The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is brought to you by Farmigo CSA Management Software, providing the tools you need to manage your CSA business. Farmigo CSA Management Software has a customizable management system to meet your farm’s specific needs.
Quotes from the Show
The game of farming to me is that something screwy is constantly happening. It’s about keeping your cool and your creativity, and being able to laugh and go, “Well, we learned one there.”
I still think vegetable farming is trickier, because there’s so many different crops with vegetables. At least with grain you’ve got three categories: your corn, your small grains, and your beans.
As we get established, it would be fun to trade five pounds of my improved Reid’s Yellow Dent with another farmer from Iowa or Kentucky so that we can keep trading our genetics. And it will end up making our corn all the better by having those inputs.
[The genetics work] keeps it interesting. It keep my mind working and keeps me engaged in farming in a way that I really enjoy because there’s always something new to mull over while you’re two-row cultivating five acres of corn.
When it comes down to it I just like a challenge…
It’s making your body… it stems from the soil. Everything we have.
In a world where there is so much strife and chaos… there’s something about nature that’s very simple, strong, stabilizing force. And I think that that can come through food as well.
It’s fun to harvest it year after year and see your efforts pay off.
The truth is, if I wasn’t using all this old equipment, I’m not sure [my dad] would be such a fan. He loves old equipment, and my operation wouldn’t exist if he didn’t have that passion.
Because it’s a year-round sale with a grocer or restaurant, it’s a different relationship. Once you step away from those seasonal crops, and get into a crop that is available year-round for them, you need to make sure you have enough of it to supply it for a year.
Everything we planted back in April is for sale in 2016 and even into 2017, so you’re trying to plan almost two years in advance when you’re working with these food-grade commodities.
It’s hard with the local foods movement… you have an expectation that if somebody says something, that their word is good until they tell you otherwise. But that’s not always the case. People are in this for the money and to capitalize on the movement, and it’s good to be aware of that. That’s where a contract comes into play.
In college sometime, I just stopped stop caring what other people thought. I just decided that I would approach everything in life with openness and with a smile. And that changed everything for me.
The article in Illinois Farmer Today about Hazzard Free Farm.
And although it wasn't mentioned on the show, below is a really wonderful documentary short by Chicago-area film director Pablo Korona that tells the story of Andy and Hazzard Free Farm.