…Come Grow With Us!

Archive for the month “May, 2013”


Welcome to Follow the Feast ! We are ready to get started on this exciting  journey of raising meat together.Lets start by reviewing some very important work that has been leading up to the arrival of our animals.

We began last February with lots of reading and research on raising meat and the different options available. We chose three meats that are common and delicious to concentrate our efforts on and to include in this project; pork, chicken and turkey.  One of our goals in sharing this research with you is to encourage you to eat what we call happy meat, that is, animals raised in a clean, healthy and loving environment. We want you to know what that looks like and encourage you to seek out relationships with local farms to support happy meat production. Happy meat production is good Earth Stewardship! Stay tuned this season to find out why.

Pigs were the most popular researched amongst my young students during our research month last February. I didn’t realize there are so many different kinds of pig breeds. Breed refers to the variety of the pig. Pig breeds can varying in shape, size, color and other characteristics including personality . Often times pig breed names represent the area of the world the breed came from originally.  Heritage Breed pigs are distinguished further as breed lines that are not compromised; they have not been crossed with other breeds, likened to pure bred dogs or heirloom seeds .   Lets take a minute and talk about the pigs that are coming to the farm this season.


Meet Tammy and Roxanne. These two pigs are thoroughly enjoying digging their snouts through beds of root vegetables and laying in the shade of apple trees. Now, I am sure you have noticed that these two, while both evenly pig-shaped, wear different-colored coats. This is because they are different breeds of pig. Tammy is a Tamworth pig because both of her parents were Tamworth pigs, and her ancestors several hundred years ago lived in Tamworth, Staffordshire, England( In the same way, Roxanne is a Hampshire( probably the oldest American breed of hogs.  Their coloring isn’t the only thing different about them. Tamworth pigs are typically red-gold in color, especially hardy and curious folk, heavy “rooters” or snout-diggers, and fill out at 600 to 800 pounds by the end of their second year. Hampshire pigs are black with a white belt around the shoulders, have thinner-than-normal skin, have a lean physique and quick growth. Spending time with our girls has supported these facts that I have lifted from  a Pigs special issue put out by the people at Popular Farming magazine.

We chose the  Tamworth and the Hampshire breeds for our project because they are hardy, good natured and pasture well. Pasturing our pigs is important to us because it gives them some freedom in nature and access to a natural green diet. Healthy and happy pigs is our goal.

More on pasturing next….


Welcome Chris


Hello, my name is Chris. I am one of the interns working at Bertrand Farm this summer. I am currently a senior at Indiana University South Bend, with a major in psychology and a minor in sustainability. My future goals are to get my master’s degree in social work at IUSB and to become a farmer at home. I also plan to work with community gardens after my internship.

While I have only been working as an intern for the farm for a short time thus far; I have found myself to be in good company with very like minded people. Some of the goals of Bertrand Farm are to grow food for our present needs, while growing farmers for our future needs. People learn through imitation and example and at Bertrand farm; we grow farmers by actually showing children and adults how to raise food in sustainable ways. The goals of Bertrand Farm are goals that I deeply believe in and value.



Intern John, reporting in. I come to the farm with a love of food and a collage of agrarian ideals picked up while studying engineering in Chicago. I spent the past two years working in restaurant kitchens and jumped on the opportunity to cultivate plants and raise animals here at Bertrand. I guess I’ll jump right in and spill some of my experiences onto the canvas for you.

I arrived on the farm with taped up glasses, a pasty complexion, chock-full of allergies. Two weeks deep and I have a healthy looking rosy-copper tan; tough, dirt-studded hands; and an acceptable tolerance to the festival of pollen and barn-dust that envelops me. My vision is still 20/500, but so far, my theory is supported that manual farming is one of the healthiest activities a person can do.

Life on the farm has been 70% satisfying, 30% frustrating. The satisfaction comes from snapping off crisp stalks of asparagus and rhubarb, placing seeds and seedlings into fertile layers of compost and soil, collecting and cleaning eggs from the hens, and constructing satisfying meals out of this abundance. It feels great to share this work and food with the community–the Niemiers, the other interns, and the neighbors that have passed through and those who will in days to come (you, hopefully!). The frustration comes mainly from the pressures of production and the distance between my ideals and reality. Scratch it, let’s rename the frustration “drive” and end on that note.

‘Til next time,


Title Optional

Hello everyone! My name is Richie Janssen and I am now interning full time here at Bertrand farm. I would first like to say that I am very excited by this opportunity and am looking forward to meeting you all very soon at workshops and markets. It is love and awe for the wonder of nature are in my blood. Some of my earliest memories are of standing in a sun bathed garden, hearing the magnificent hum of hundreds of insects, seeing our ultimate source of energy the Sun reflected back at me in a mosaic of shapes and colors. This was a memory before knowledge and understanding began to breakdown the experience into words and images, but I can still recall the feeling of ultimate connectedness to all things free from definition and bound only by imagination. Working with nature is something that I feel I was born to do. I have endless energy for the work and thinking that goes with it; how could I possibly question that?

So here I am. I have spent the last four years reading all I can about earths indigenous agricultural history and the current thinking and practicing being done by revolutionaries in the field(i.e. Sepp Holzer, Masanobu Fukuoka, and Jeff Lawton to name a few; who all have great books and youtube videos by the way). As a student in the most wonderful Department of Environmental and Plant Biology at Ohio University I have access to diverse pool of scientific knowledge of the natural world, all of which is so incredibly applicable to agriculture. Since high school I have been practicing and making mistakes in a 15 x 10 meter plot at my parents home in Barrington, Illinois. That is my playground where I am free to experiment with different mixes of plants.  My own philosophy of farming is being guided by this search for knowledge and constant experimentation, changing slightly each day as I engage with plants and animals. At the base line you could consider me a Permaculturist, and I am feeling very privileged to have access to this place in which to practice, as well as to have a like minded and successful mentor from whom to learn the things that don’t come from books. I am eager to have a positive impact on this small, diverse island adrift in the sea of corn. During my time here I will be developing an educational module for an introduction to Permaculture, specifically focusing on edge space design and planting for perennial forage crops, as well as one for proper tool use and maintenance. I will be graduating next spring and hope to reference this summer to help me get an apprenticeship or a lease on some land to start building a farm of my own.

My first week here has been excellent. Fresh eggs every morning for my favorite meal, endless greens, open minds, and mentally stimulating work, what could be better? We have a great, hardworking crew this year who are all equally passionate in their own ways. A plant geek, a food engineer, an educator… maybe its a perfect storm. Theri says it is an experimental year, and I am ready to take full advantage of that fact. So lets get to it! After breakfast, of course 😉


Follow the Feast



Welcome to a new and exciting project at Bertrand Farm this season.

Follow the Feast is our creative solution to keep our mission of connecting people to food production, alive while we experience a break in business due to a petroleum pipeline installation through our property this season. Yes, it is ironic; We strive to teach the community about transitioning to less and no fossil fuel consumption in farming yet we have a petroleum pipeline running through our property.  All efforts to stop this pipeline were squelched on January 31, this year, when the judicial courts of the land gave a private orporation eminent domain rights to our land; Another irony for sure.

We can’t invite you to the farm this season so we are coming to you through blogging and YouTube’s. We will share with you our small farm practices in meat production  that we believe give our  meat animals a better life, better nutrition,  provide good earth stewardship and  a system design small farmers can benefit from. Join us in raising chickens, turkeys and pigs this season. Be a sponsor  and culminate the experience with a feast for your community.   Our sponsors will be highlighted during this project as another means of educating the public on our local community’s offerings.

 Do you know how your meat is raised? Knowing can change everything! We hope to engage you in this production to encourage you to ask questions of your producers and to support your local small farm movement. We believe the future of food security depends on it.

Let’s start by meeting the energetic and excited  young adults who are interning at the farm this season. They will join me in bringing the farm to you; Chris, John, and Richie are ready to get started (Colleen  will arrive in June).

We invite you to grow with us this season as a creative solution to keep our mission alive and to bring people and food production together as a matter of health.  If you are interested  in sponsorship contact us.


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