June 26, 2015
Farmer – Killarney Farm
What inspired you to become a farmer?
I’ve always loved to play outside, where I can be witness to the miracles of the natural world. I love being able to participate in the lives of plants and animals. What I eat and how it is grown is very important to me. Striving to live for my health and the health of Mother Earth is greatly motivating. Growing food for myself and others is fulfills my passion.
What changes have you seen over the years vis a vis the local food scene?
In the 28 years that we have been involved in growing food for market in North Idaho, we have experienced a remarkable increase in interest in eating fresh, healthy and organically grown food, in supporting local growers and in the popularity of the farmers’ markets. We’ve also seen an increase in availability of organic food from distant sources in stores with the concurrent rise of large-scale organic “industry” and relative decrease in cost of products.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a farmer?
For me personally, the biggest challenge is lack of time and energy to carry through with all the ideas and activities that beckon. It is difficult to get enough sleep during the growing and marketing season. Having enough reliable, good help on farm is often one of our biggest challenges.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
It is immensely rewarding to witness the joy, enthusiasm and support that our produce and our efforts elicit from people in our community. Working at home, outside and co-creating food is very satisfying. I am honored when I feel I have inspired others to do the same.
When you aren’t busy farming, what kinds of things do you like to do?
There is not very much time in the year when I’m not occupied with some aspect of farming. When we’re not actively in the fields we are spending time cleaning, organizing, ordering, planning and starting seeds indoors, attending conferences. And recovering! Given the opportunity like to hike, bike, paddle, travel, nature watch, practice yoga, spin, knit, weave, prepare good food, play and listen to music and audio books, spend time with two- and four- legged friends.
What do you envision for the future of our local food system?
I envision a broad network of local, mostly small producers and markets, including online and other alternative programs to connect growers and consumers. I know that it is possible to produce vastly more food in our area and to extend the growing season.
What do you feel is the biggest priority to grow our local food system?
I believe the weakest link, at this point, is the lack of farms and farmers. We need to work on making affordable land accessible and we need to do everything to encourage and reward the efforts of beginning [and continuing] growers of every ilk. As consumers, we need to continue to think and learn about how what we eat [and consume, in general] affects our health and the health of our community and environment.
Any other comments/thoughts?
I would like to express my gratitude for the many people who believe in the value of our local food system. To those whose show of appreciation for our produce is our biggest reward. To those in many capacities, who have worked hard to connect growers with eaters. And to those who dream of a better local system.
Ellen and her partner Paul Smith own and operate Killarney Farm, a certified organic farm since 1991, located in Rose Lake, ID. Their produce is available at the Kootenai Farmers Markets and at a farm stand in Rose Lake.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]