Eric Reuter, Ecological Farmer and Founder of Chert Hollow Farm

Name: Eric ReuterEric Reuter

Occupation:  ecological farmer, diversified homesteader, and freelance writer

Location: Boone County, Central Missouri

Website: Chert Hollow Farm

Twitter: @cherthollow

Background:  Eric and his wife, Joanna, founded their homestead farm in 2006, within a narrow Ozark-style valley with diverse landscapes and ecosystems. Raised in a rural household that valued gardening and food preservation, he’s long been interested in food and wooed Joanna with his cooking.

Eric pursued degrees in geology and education, chasing an elusive dream of a career in the National Park Service, before settling down with Joanna to pursue self-sufficiency instead. They chose full-time self-employment in 2009 and have juggled various income streams and homestead pursuits ever since.

Livestock experience: Eric managed a home dairy goat herd from 2008 to 2014, and has also worked part-time for a nearby artisanal goat dairy. His experience includes:

• Managing breeding and kidding

• Designing, implementing, and maintaining shelters, fences, and other infrastructure

• Milking; handling and selling raw milk

• Home production of cheese, yogurt, and other milk products

• Slaughtering, butchering, preparation, and preservation of meat

Eric and Joanna love goats and all their products (thought they have yet to find an ideal use for goat fat). The current lack of goats at Chert Hollow Farm is due to a complicated story which will come out in his blogging. He also has experience raising and processing pastured chickens and pigs, but considers goats very nearly the perfect domestic animal—if only goat fat tasted like pork fat.

Other interests: Birding, science, travel, hiking, canoeing, playing hammered dulcimer, model-building, history, and baseball. Eric would need many lifetimes to pursue all the world has to offer.

Homestead summary: Chert Hollow Farm seeks to integrate food and farming into the ecosystem. The homestead includes 1.5 acres of permanent, no-till growing beds, a small orchard, mixed pastures and woodlands, and more projects than anyone could achieve in a lifetime. Eric and Joanna’s goal is a working landscape that encourages biodiversity and food production while minimizing waste of natural or human resources. They’re currently discussing a transition away from annual vegetables, toward perennial permaculture.