The Ice Cream Rises to the Top at Fox Meadows Farms

Bob Fox, Zach Ducheneaux, Chad Fox and Corey Fox standing in a field with a red barn in the background.

Fox Meadows Farms is a generational family farm in Pennsylvania. Pictured above (from left to right), is Bob Fox, FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux, Chad Fox and Corey Fox. Photo by Kimberly Merlau, FSA.

By Kimberly Merlau, FSA, Pennsylvania  

The Fox family of Fox Meadows Farms in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, is owned and operated by brothers Chad and Corey Fox, their wives, Krista and Andrea, and their parents, Bob and Ruthie. This generational farm demonstrates the importance of family farms, diversifying farming operations, and recognizing opportunities in urban and suburban communities.  

“We are grateful to be close to Lancaster City and other population centers like Leola,” Chad said. “Being close to the consumer gives us access to an available workforce and consumer base, affording us the opportunity to serve more people.”   Continue reading

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Urban Youth Loan Borrower Grows Lettuce and a Passion for Hydroponics

Trinity Waguespack holds a container full of leafy greens.

Trinity Waguespack, an 11-year-old urban farmer in Louisiana. Photo courtesy of the Waguespack family.

By Shantelle Turner, Management and Program Analyst, USDA Farm Service Agency

Trinity Waguespack is an 11-year-old urban farmer in Lafayette, Louisiana. When she’s not tackling her schoolwork, Trinity is busy growing lettuce in her three hydroponic garden towers. Through precision agriculture and artificial intelligence technology, the towers notify her when the lettuce needs water, even when she’s at swim practice.

“I like hydroponics because it lets me stay away from the outdoor bugs and hot weather,” said Trinity. “It’s also cool to grow things in water.” Continue reading

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An Opportunity of a Lifetime

Three children stand in front of their parents

Jesse Hegemann with his wife, Joni, and their three children, Madison, Kennedy, and Peyton. Photo by Sydney Erickson, FSA.

By Sydney Erickson, FSA, Nebraska 

Meet Jesse Hegemann, a first-generation farmer and rancher from Burchard, Nebraska. Growing up, Jesse developed a passion for agriculture while helping on his uncles’ farms and watching his dad raise hogs. He aspired to start his own operation, but without an easy claim to land, it seemed like a difficult path to pursue until he found a unique opportunity with a local farmer.  

A Valuable Connection 

“Growing up my mom and dad owned the local plumbing and heating business in Howells,” he said. “My dad always wanted to come back and farm full-time, but the ‘80s hit, and my grandpa said that wasn’t going to be able to happen. He was still active and had hogs, but the hog business eventually ended up selling out.”  Continue reading

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A Labor of Love

Michelle Eckhart picks peaches

Michelle Eckhart picks peaches in the orchard on Sweet Berry Farm. Photo courtesy of Sweet Berry Farm.

By Leila Naylor, FSA, Rhode Island

Jan and Michelle Eckhart are the owners and operators of Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, Rhode Island. What began as a small farm primarily growing strawberries has turned into a labor of love. In addition to strawberries, the Eckharts now grow cherries, cane berries, peaches, blackberries, pumpkins and more on their 100-acre farm.

Growing the Operation

Jan and Michelle started out only farming part-time, both working full-time jobs and selling their produce out of small coolers and fresh-cut flowers out of buckets at a few local farmers markets.

They reached their turning point in 1996 and decided it was time to quit their full-time jobs to follow their passion. To become full-time farmers, Jan and Michelle realized they needed to acquire more land. Continue reading

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Growing Sweet Results in Virginia

By Samantha Blair, Latoyia Elliott and Samantha Turner, FSA, Virginia 

Meet Elisha Barnes, a fourthgeneration farmer from Southampton County, Virginia. Elisha’s love of agriculture began while working in his family’s peanut fields at the age of six. He purchased his own farm in 1989 where he continues to grow peanuts, along with soybeans, corn, and a variety of produce, only stopping to rest on rainy days and Sundays. 

Latoyia Elliott stands to the left and Elisha Barnes on the right with a sign behind them that says "USDA Service Center"

Farmer Elisha Barnes with FSA County Executive Director in Training Latoyia Elliott in front of the Southampton County USDA Service Center. Photo by Samantha Turner, FSA.

Getting Started 

At 15, Elisha wanted to quit school to become a full-time farmer, but his father insisted that he finish his formal education. His father was unable to finish school and wanted his children to have the opportunities that he didn’t.  Elisha went on to finish school and later graduate with a degree from Nashville Auto Diesel College. His degree has paid off, allowing him the ability to work on and fabricate to fit the needs of his operation.   Continue reading

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Apples Don’t Fall Far from the Tree

Chris Jaswell on the left and Allison Jaswell on the right.

Allison and Chris are the fourth generation of the Jaswell family to own and operate Jaswell’s Farm in Smithfield. Photo by Paul Marcello, Jaswell’s Farm.

By Leila Naylor, FSA, Rhode Island 

Meet siblings Allison Jaswell Molis and Chris Jaswell, fourthgeneration owners and operators of Jaswell’s Farm located in Smithfield, Rhode Island, the state’s Apple Valley. The farm consists of 80 acres, 20 of which are apple orchards producing 12 different varieties. In addition to apples, they grow an assortment of specialty flowers and vegetables, including asparagus, cucumbers, summer and winter squashes, pumpkins, sweet corn, and tomatoes. Even though most of Smithfield’s orchards have faded away, Jaswell’s Farm continues to thrive.  Continue reading

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Roots in Agriculture Run Deep

JC Chandler stands on the left, Chris Chandler stands in the center, Amy Chandler stands on the right of one of their cows.

JC Chandler with his parents, Amy and Chris Chandler. Photo by Sabrenna Bryant, FSA.

By Sabrenna Bryant, FSA, South Carolina

Meet John “JC” Chandler of Belton, South Carolina, where his herd of Charolais cattle is his pride and joy. While he’s only 17, JC has already become an agriculture leader in his school and community. Currently, JC has a total of 17 cows in his herd, including eight commercial cows, seven Charolais, a steer and a limousine cow.

The Ninth Generation

JC’s parents, Amy and Chris, run a small operation in Belton where they raise commercial cattle, particularly Black Angus and Baldy. While their operation has nurtured his passion for agriculture, his family’s long running history with the Charolais breed inspired him to start his own herd with Charolais cattle.

“Growing up, I loved listening to all the stories about the Charolais cows from my grandfather,” said JC.  “He grew up with Charolais and he loves them. I felt it was my duty to bring them back.”

Continue reading

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FSA Farm Loans Help Colorado Hop Farmers Get Started

Audrey Gehlhausen stands on the left and Chris Dellabianca stands on the right in between two rows of hops. Two dogs are seated in front of them.

Billy Goat Hop Farm located in Montrose, Colorado, is a dream come true for beginning farmers Audrey Gehlhausen and Chris Dellabianca. Photo courtesy of Billy Goat Hop Farm LLC.

By Elizabeth Thomas, FSA, Colorado

Billy Goat Hop Farm LLC located in Montrose, Colorado, is a dream come true for beginning farmers Audrey Gehlhausen and Chris Dellabianca. This hop farm operation was made possible with hard work, determination, and a beginning farmer loan from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Getting Started

Chris and Audrey’s passion for the industry started while working in different microbreweries in Idaho, and they eventually decided to start the process of owning an operation to grow hops.

Chris found an internship with an 800-acre Idaho hop farm where he experienced all the aspects of the job throughout a full hop season. After the season, Chris and Audrey packed up their life to go on a road trip across five states to learn more and find the right land to start their own operation, eventually planting roots in Montrose in 2017.

Continue reading

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Be the Link: The Neighborhood Farmer

Photo of Josh Volk

Josh Volk runs Cully Neighborhood Farm and serves on the FSA urban county committee in Portland. Photo courtesy of Josh Volk.

By Susan Riffel, FSA, Oregon

The nomination period for the USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) annual county committee elections began June 15 and continues through Aug. 1, 2023. Throughout the nomination period, we’ll be introducing county committee members from across the nation. In our final installment of the series, we’ll meet Josh Volk of Portland, Oregon.

Community-Supported

Josh currently runs Cully Neighborhood Farm where he produces vegetables with his Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members and sells extras on-site for the wider community.  He came to work with Cully Neighborhood Farm in 2016 after working on a handful of other farms just outside of Portland starting in 2001, including his own farm, Slow Hand Farm, which he ran from 2009 to 2012.  Continue reading

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Be the Link: Bridging Gaps in the Virgin Islands

Royce Creque takes a selfie in front of a pen of cattle.

Royce Creque is a farmer and FSA county committee member on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Photo courtesy of Royce Creque.

By Savanna Turner, FSA, Florida & U.S. Virgin Islands   

The nomination period for the USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) annual county committee elections began June 15 and continues through Aug. 1, 2023. Throughout the nomination period, we’ll be introducing county committee members from across the nation. This week, meet Royce Creque of Greenridge Guavaberry Farm, LLC, on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  

Finding His Passion 

Royce’s uncle, Myron Henneman, started the farming operation in 1984 in Bordeaux, St. Thomas. Before Royce became a full-time farmer, he originally started working on the farm during the weekends while he started his career in film production.  

“I have a college degree in film production and had a professional job,” said Royce. “I decided to go into farming full-time in 2012 because I was driven to push the farm to its potential. The only way we could get the farm to where it is now is if I put more time into the operation.”  Continue reading

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