ASK Jeff: The Rodale Institute’s farm manager, Jeff Moyer, answers your hardcore farming questions

Jeff’s column on community strikes chord with New Farm readers.

Posted September 16, 2005

What Jeff brings to the table

Jeff Moyer, who’s been the farm manager here at the 333-acre Rodale Institute research farm for more than a quarter of a century, receives lots of mail from farmers just like you asking for advice. Jeff’s hands-in-the-dirt experience over the past 26 years has run the gamut from refining the farm's cover cropping and crop rotation systems (including managing 270 acres in a rotation of corn, small grains, hay, and edible soy beans for a Japanese market) to overseeing The Rodale Institue Farming Systems Trial®, the world’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional agriculture. We thought it would be fun and informative to share some of these farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and Jeff’s practical wisdom, with our NewFarm.org readers … and we’ll be doing it on a regular basis.

Got a question of your own? Send it to Jeff at:
jeff.moyer@rodaleinst.org

Dear Jeff,

I really liked your article about neighbors helping out. Here, we are having trouble with the city of Kyle, Texas expanding into rural areas regardless of the impact on farmers. I have been certified organic since 1989 and the city has always given me a hard time for farming on the outskirts of town. Their latest maneuver is now to build an “outer loop,” which will take up our front yard. Why? Because they need a major road to get to another subdivision. We went from 2,500 to 16,000 in population and are projected to go to 45,000 by 2007.

In fact it is so bad the president of the Chamber of Commerce was quoted in the local newspaper saying that is best for area farmers to sell their land and move to west Texas if they want to continue their farming lifestyle. A letter to the editor quickly followed. From that, I made a decision to stop all sales to the area farmers markets and concentrate on local CSA in Kyle so that I can get support from voting people who will not want our farm to be taken out.

Local politicians need to support local farming by securing their right to farm. To learn more about me, go to www.ssawg.org. Go to “What we do,” then to “Organic farmer network” and “farmer profiles” and look up my name.

Regards,
Tim P. Miller


Dear Jeff,

I enjoyed your recent New Farm piece about neighbors.

I live in very rural Upstate New York where farming is the leading industry. I am sad to say that we have very little contact with our neighbors. Everyone always seems so busy and then so tired after being so busy that there is little time to connect.

However, there used to be a large dairy operation next door (sad to say it has gone through several owners and now sits fallow) that had, well, very lax outlooks about fence maintenance. There were numerous times we had the farm’s Holsteins in our yard and/or in the busy highway out front. It was very easy for my wife and I to grab flashlights at night and try to herd the cows back inside the fences and to keep cars from hitting them in the night. I guess that is what neighbors do.

Writing this reminds me, that a previous owner – the original owner, a family farmer – used to hold a “neighborhood” picnic each summer for people living nearby. My wife and I never went, though I suspect we would now; older and wiser.

Keep up the good work,
David Hollis


Dear Jeff,

Thank you for the “community” article; beautifully written and right on the money. May we all support and love the earth and each other “all ways.” From a fellow “borderless” farmer in Fairfield, Iowa!

Great day to you,
Grover Stock

 

Have some questions to Ask Jeff? E-mail him directly at jeff.moyer@rodaleinst.org.