What challenges do Florida farmers face? What rewards do they reap? What’s it like to work the land?
Florida Food & Farm writer Nicole Danna talked to the owners of six farms around the state to ask them what they want the public to know about farming. Here’s Bill Popp, one of them, speaking about his farm in Trenton. (Read what the other five farmers wish you knew about the profession in our latest issue of Florida Food & Farm, now online.)
Laughing Chicken Farm, Trenton
Farmers: Bill and Robin Popp
About the farm: A family-owned and -operated farm in Trenton offering pasture-raised chicken, turkey, and pork.
- Farming shouldn’t be cruel. I love what Joel Salatin said at our visit to his farm (Polyface Farm): “If your farm has a smell, then you’re doing something wrong.” The Industrial Revolution was great for the car industry, but not so great for farms. The best farm is a partnership. We treat the animals well, and they can offer us their best.
- Farming challenges your brain. Planning, problem-solving, and creative thinking – all are needed on a successful farm. Every day, a farmer is overcoming challenges with the animals, the weather, the predators, and even pests. Finding answers that are innovative, affordable, and sustainable is where the real challenge lies.
- You can produce a lot on a little land. It’s amazing to me how many tons, (literally, tons) of products we can produce on our little 10 acres. If more people did this, there would be so much available. It is my hope that more young people will take an interest in farming and more small farms would develop.
- Farming in Florida comes with its own challenges. Most information out there about starting up a farm is not relevant to our climate or soil. However, we can produce year-round, where others can’t. But instead of relying on information and education from other sources, you have to problem-solve for your unique location.
- Farming is full of rewards. Yes, it’s hard work, long hours, dirty, and sometimes heartbreaking. But the benefits are healthy food, healthy bodies, good people, and a great night’s sleep. Stress-free? Hardly. But rewarding.
Nicole Danna has been reporting on food, spirits, and agriculture for South Florida residents for five years. She’s been reporting on food-related topics for the past decade for publications such as Manhattan’s New York Moves and Boulder-based Colorado Daily.