Our “Farmer Feature” blog series is an effort to showcase local farms all across Missouri! Our goal is to connect consumers across the state with farms that are doing incredible things right here in our own backyards!
This month’s farmer feature is David Yoder with Five Star Family Farms! David is a Missouri Organic Association board member and invaluable addition to our decision-making team. We are so grateful for his support for MOA’s mission! Five Star Family Farms is a beautiful farm located in Garden City, Missouri.
David volunteered his time to answer a few questions about his farm here in Eastern Missouri and how we can be supporting local farmers throughout these challenging times.
How long have you been farming?
My three siblings and I are 3rd generation farmers. Growing up, it was called Yoder Livestock Farm. Apart from row crops, we had chickens and raised thousands of hogs and sheep. We have transitioned almost completely out of livestock, tripled in acreage, and committed more of our land to row cropping by converting pasture and forest into tillable fields. In 2018 the time came for our generation to officially take up the farming torch. To make this a reality we formed Five Star Family Farms, LLC.
What is your farm’s main focus?
Our specialty is in row crops, and we are working on a plan to grow and sell organic produce in the near future. All our fields are currently in the 3-year process of transitioning to USDA certified organic. As of August 1, 2020, we completed our second transition year. Ultimately, we are focused on the learning curve of USDA’s/NOP’s organic practices, producing wholesome products, protecting our natural resources for ourselves and future generations, and building relationships. We also continuously research markets and innovative technology that works with organic farming.
What are one or two important organic and sustainable practices that you use on your farm?
Research. Each farm is unique! Doing our homework and documenting the current state of our farmland is vital to do well growing organic. We know our land, field history, topography, drainage, run-off issues, and prevailing winds. We sample and test soil and irrigation water, research soil health, pests, and diseases that may show up on the farm. With all data gathered, we can make decisions on what to do and what organic practices are available for the specific issue(s) found.
Make use of available resources. We collaborate with our local NRCS office, keep a current copy of the NOP handbook, and utilize our certifying agency. We keep our organic land registered on DriftWatch and we use the USDA’s website and contact number and are always on the lookout for any other resources available that are near our location.
What advice would you give to beginner farmers?
Document everything and keep all farm records. It is crucial and will serve useful. Another thing we find helpful is talking to other farmers using organic practices. Utilizing their experiences and expertise serves as an invaluable tool.
What can people do to support farmers throughout and after this pandemic?
Buy locally produced food. Support local farmer’s markets. Volunteer at a local farm. Write to legislators to allocate funds to help organic and transitioning to organic farmers, for better, more feasible cost-share programs via NRCS, and to reimburse the initial cost it takes to become certified.
Encourage corporations to fund grants for farmers. Write grants for farmers. Promote grants and funding opportunities and raise awareness of their existence so farmers can apply.
Are you interested in being a featured farmer? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and use the subject “MOA Farm Feature.”
We are so happy to shine a light on local farms and farmers around the state!
For more ways to connect with local farmers in Missouri become a member of the Missouri Organic Association and join us for MOA’s annual Mid-America Organic Conference!
The 2021 conference will now be held from Tuesday, March 2nd through Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021. Learn more and register by visiting the 2021 Mid-America Organic Conference page!