What comes to mind when you think of a farmer?
A few years ago, I would have said, “someone sitting on a tractor…in the middle of a big green field… wearing plaid and overalls”. All I knew about farmers came from children’s story books and stereotypes.
So tell me, what comes to mind when you think of a farmer?
Truth is, most of us don’t have substantial experiences to pull descriptors from.
Well, meet Peter Larson, of Just a Few Acres. I noticed him at the Ithaca Farmers Market; on the table in front of him were photos of his farm and a stack of books, titled “A Year and One Day on Just a Few Acres”.
Peter, a 7th generation farmer, used to commute from his family farm to Syracuse every day when he worked as an architect. “I never liked going into the city, and I’d always wish that I could work from home”.
He was drawn back to farming, and his book recounts his leap from architecture to farming. “It’s scary”, he admitted truthfully. And his family farm is literally “just a few acres” – it’s about 45 acres, which is rather small. But unlike many farms, it’s just Peter and his family working on the farm. “That’s the idea. It would just be us”, no outside help.
Though Peter comes from a family of farmers, much of what he knows about farming was learned by reading books and following Joel Salatin’s practices. (If you haven’t heard of Joel Salatin, he’s the most famous farmer in America.) Some of Salatin’s sustainable practices that Peter has adopted include moving his chicken coops every single day, so the chickens have new, fresh grass.
Farming isn’t just about crops and animals, either. Farming is a business, and Peter applies his business acumen, from being a part-owner in his architecture firm, to his new farming business. “I spend an hour each night just doing books and numbers”.
To Peter, the risk he took and the work it takes are worth it.
“It’s meaningful. It didn’t feel like you were making anything when I was an architect. America is all about consumerism, and now, I get to experience the producer’s side.”
Peter, a sustainable farmer, is also an author, businessman, and former architect.
Do you want to meet more farmers? View other stories about some of Ithaca’s hardworking farmers here.