One of our greatest challenges has been attempting to define the family farm. We have visited farms ranging from 4,000 acres to under a hundred; farms which use millions of dollars of equipment and farms that use only one tractor; farms that run by a family of four to farms that are run by a family fifteen; farms that are organized like corporations and farms that are considered "hobby farms." Despite these vast differences, we found one common thread holding these farms together- the family. Regardless of technology, size, and product, all farms depend on the commitment of family members. These farms survive, in part, because of the unconditional participation of the whole family.
"Right now we have three generations living and working there together, and so a lot of our family life and the farming kind of mesh." Kathie Brown
"It's a good family time. We do things all together, as a family, as a team working together." Becky Shinaberry
Another important aspect in defining the family farm seems to be the passing on these farms to future generations. Many of these farms have survived through multiple generations:
"I live on a family farm. My dad owns the farm, we grew up on the farm, working on the farm. My brothers now work on the farm and I think they are going to continue working on the farm. Though if they continue working on the farm they will take over it... And Doug and Dwayne would be a second generation and that is kind of what I see as a family farm." Anna Grassbaugh
"I think that's [passing down the farm] everybody's goal. You like to see when you work and build something, you like to see it continue on. I'd love to think that this farm would go on... the next generation, next generation, and next generation... whatever it may be that would certainly be my goal... When you've got something that you built and worked, and that's your life, you like to think that it will carry on." Dale Grassbaugh
photo credits: Andy Legant, Gregory Spaid