The average age of farmers in the United States is 56 years old. That means in the next 10-20 years, most American farms are going to change hands. Some will go to sons and daughters of the current farm owners, but for those who don’t have offspring who want to take over, the problem of protecting a business and a legacy becomes a real issue.
In the photo below are, standing from left, Nash and Patty, John Eveland of Gathering Together Farm in Oregon, Tom Willey of T&D Willey Farm in CA, and Sally Brewer, John’s wife and farming partner. Seated are Michael Willey, son of Tom and Denesse, also seated.
Being close to the same age and at the same point in their farming careers, these long-time farmers are asking “How do we STOP farming?” Tom and De-nesse have actually taken steps in that direction and have sold their organic vege-table farm in Madera. But they are eager and able to continue participation in organic agriculture as a movement and are exploring ways to do that. John and Sally are still active farmers. They are not sure how to divest themselves of the business that they have spent decades building. Nash and Patty are working with their management team who have the right of first refusal when the farm is sold some time in the future.
Between them, these farmers had about 150 years farming experience, and are wishing they had another 150 years to keep doing it. On the other hand, Tom and Denesse have to admit that retirement is pretty nice!