Farmers David and Joy Stutzman are making certain their three
children not only learn how to farm-they hope they'll enjoy
it, too. The Stutzmans raise pastured beef, hogs, chickens,
eggs and turkeys and market directly to consumers in rural
eastern Pennsylvania. Their farm, called Pasture's Pride,
is a family operation, since each child has full responsibility
for their own piece of the puzzle. Trevor, Jenna and Andrew
Stutzman work as entrepreneurs, and make their own production,
marketing and financial decisions (with advice from mom and
It's early August, and nine-year old Trevor checks to make
sure his 34 turkey poults are kept warm until they are ready
for pasture in eight weeks. Trevor is especially proud of
several poults of the 'Bourbon Red' variety, developed by
settlers in early Pennsylvania. Since this is Trevor's first
venture, it's difficult to predict how his season, which ends
with the Thanksgiving holiday, will go.
Jenna, age twelve, manages a flock of about 30 laying hens.
Jenna remarked, "It's a lot of work to wash the eggs
and put them in the cartons, but I pretty much do it on my
own." For each dozen eggs, Jenna pockets $1.50, and 50-cents
goes back to the farm. So far, Jenna bought a bookcase with
her profits, and she is saving for a CD player. Jenna's biggest
problem is moving the hoop-style chicken house-on-runners
with its portable poultry netting. Dad David said, "It
takes the whole family to move the chickens on pasture. We
hook up the 4-wheeler and everyone grabs a corner of the house
or a piece of the fence and we go!"
Andrew, fifteen years old, oversees 500 broiler-type chickens
a year while planning for college and related expenses in
a few years. Twice each summer, Andrew buys 250 chicks, timing
the batches so that the family has room for a vacation in
the middle of the summer. The Stutzmans believe that it's
important to get away from the farm, too, so their children
won't resent the work. Andrew found that farming isn't so
bad if the workload and income are spread out. Three portable
pens, built on the design of pastured poultry entrepreneur
Joel Salatin, sit scattered on a hillside and house about
80 birds each.
While the children have individual responsibilities, each
piece must be held together as a whole farm, and that job
falls to their parents. Marketing is made easier since the
Stutzmans already have 250 customers for their frozen beef.
According to Joy, "It's not hard to add an item to your
customer base once you have the base. It's easier for people
to buy one more item-chicken, turkey or eggs-when they're
already buying a side of beef." Raising pastured beef
was an important first move. For example, David said, "We
have a water line going up to the field for beef, so it was
simple to tap that line for the pastured poultry."
David and Joy have avoided pressuring their children to be
farmers. Andrew hasn't yet decided what he'll do after college.
But, his parents feel that no matter where he is or what he
does, Andrew knows how to earn money by managing poultry,
whether he's farming or not. Adds David, "Our goal is
to have a family friendly farm."