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My Farm Roots: Winning Respect

Amy Mayer
Harvest Public Media

Danelle Myer owns a small vegetable farm. Like many other small farmers, she’s passionate about the kind of operation she wants to grow: a small, local business.

Myer’s farm just outside Logan, Iowa, sits in the middle of true farm country. Thousands of acres of row crops make up the landscape. Her vegetable farm is almost out of place, even though Myer is a native – she grew up on her family’s conventional farm, a quarter-acre of which she has turned into One Farm.

Hers is a less common way of doing things and it took a bit for some of the local farmers to come around.

“I think it was seen as offensive, like because I want to do something differently I think you have done something wrong,” Myer said. “And that really caught me off-guard. That was not how I saw it at all, I was just following my own heart on things.”

Even after growing up on a farm, Myer didn’t have the expertise to get her vegetable business off the ground. With encouragement from her parents, she spent six months learning the basics in an apprenticeship program at the University of California Santa Cruz. “It really was my conventional farming parents who led me to this whole situation,” Myer said.

They even let her move in with them temporarily when she first returned to Iowa. “I kind of feel like if my dad accepts me and my dad’s OK with what I’m doing and he’s a conventional farmer – he doesn’t have a problem with it – then maybe that makes me OK to other people, too,” Myer said.

Over three years, she’s put in the hours and the sweat and has found a market bigger than she expected. Her business is growing, too. By next season she will be farming a bigger plot of land she’s buying from her family.

And she’s been winning her neighbors over. Farmers, of course, respect hard work. They know what it takes to start a farm.

This is the eleventh installment of the 2013 edition of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames. She covers agriculture and is part of the Harvest Public Media collaboration. Amy worked as an independent producer for many years and also previously had stints as weekend news host and reporter at WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts and as a reporter and host/producer of a weekly call-in health show at KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska. Amy’s work has earned awards from SPJ, the Alaska Press Club and the Massachusetts/Rhode Island AP. Her stories have aired on NPR news programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition and on Only A Game, Marketplace and Living on Earth. She produced the 2011 documentary Peace Corps Voices, which aired in over 160 communities across the country and has written for The New York Times, Boston Globe, Real Simple and other print outlets. Amy served on the board of directors of the Association of Independents in Radio from 2008-2015.
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