Spotlight on Ansel Ploog, Flywheel Farm

Ansel Ploog manages Flywheel Farm in Woodbury, VT with Justin Cote where she grows organically certified vegetables and markets the produce wholesale and at their farmstand.

Ansel Ploog, Flywheel Farm Photo credit: Suzy Hodgson

Ansel Ploog, Flywheel Farm Photo credit: Suzy Hodgson

When Ansel started the farm in 2013, she had little farm management experience but a lot of ideas.  Ansel says, “I quickly realized, with farming and dealing with living systems that you cannot get too attached to a plan.”

For many new farmers, there’s a temptation to diversify and do everything from specialty greens to on-farm animals. Keeping  purchasing and sales records can help with decision-making. As Ansel says, “We liked the idea of a diversified farm with animals, so we had chickens for two years even though after the first winter we were thinking this isn’t a great idea. When we compared the amount of money going into feed, when the hens weren’t producing eggs, it became obvious that this was not going to work.”

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Women are an emerging force for Vt forests

Women at an outdoor workshop

Women are a large and growing part of America’s landowner population.  The percentage of family forests where women were the primary decision makers doubled from 2006 to 2013.  This nationwide trend of more women owning and operating forestland is also happening in Vermont’s woods.

According to the 2013 National Woodland Owner Survey, women are now the primary owners of 20 percent of Vermont’s available woodlands, meaning there are 475,000 acres of forestland in Vermont that are solely owned by women with another 1.1 million acres that are owned by women as co-owners.

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Spotlight on Birch Rise Farm

By Suzy Hodgson

“I was surprised that I could raise animals especially pigs and not feel terrified.  I’d grown up outside of Detroit so this experience was way outside my comfort zone,” says Kate Osgood, co-owner of Birch Rise Farm in New Hampshire.   With her husband Ken’s experience growing up with pigs and the help of her in-laws who are local real estate agents, the Osgoods were able to find and purchase their family home and jump into farming in 2016.

Kate Osgood, Birch Rise Farm. Photo credit: Joy Lynn Johnson

At the end of the summer 2019, Kate and Ken had 175 meat birds going for processing. Over the year, Kate sells about 900 meat birds which are processed off the farm. She also has 250 egg layers, two Katahadin meat sheep, six Berkshire sows to breed, one boar, and four meat pigs which roam comfortably in the farm’s pasture and woodland paddocks.  Birch Rise Farm is one of the few registered breeders of Berkshire pigs in New Hampshire. Continue reading

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