Raising Livestock Sustainably and Processing Meat Locally, Part 1

| 6/19/2015 11:17:00 AM

Planting A Future: Profiles from Oregon’s New Farm Movement spotlights 18 Oregon farms and farm supporters who are committed to a return to ecologically sound agricultural practices. This group reflects the diversity of people, both young and old, who are reshaping our state’s food system and reclaiming our right to eat well. In their stories you will hear how they came to be where they are, learn something about the challenges they face, and share their happiness at the successes they’ve enjoyed thus far. The following profile has been excerpted from Planting A Future.

Mike and Patty Kloft and their one-year-old son, John, are a young family working hard to save their way of life and continue along the path of their forebears. Their home is a traditional family farm. The kind that’s disappearing at a breakneck pace. And they are traditional farm people. The kind you might have met twenty or forty or even sixty years ago.

Growing up on a family farm in the 1950s afforded me many opportunities to meet just such people, and after spending a couple of hours with Mike and Patty, I realized I could just as easily have met them back then. Their farm is their life. It defines them and influences every thought they have. And one of the most important aspects of their approach to farming reflects their approach to family… how do they make what they’ve been entrusted with even better for the next generation? That’s a question which lies at the very heart of sustainability. But it’s how you answer it that really matters.

Mike and Patty grew up less than three miles apart in the countryside near Mt. Angel, Oregon. Mike’s family started their farm in 1939. Patty’s dates back to 1890… same family, same farm all that time. There’s a lot of history packed into those years. But times change, and by the year 2000, as Mike was coming into his turn at running the farm, he was wondering if there was going to be any farm to run.

“Things had gotten to the point where we just weren’t making enough money to sustain everyone anymore,” said Mike. “My grandfather started out with a dairy, and then in 1985 they sold their dairy herd and just ran beef cattle. That worked well enough for awhile, but after about fifteen years, we knew it wasn’t going to last. I was going to college down at Oregon State studying ag around then, and I was wondering if I was going to have to get out of farming.”

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