Dirt Rich: Building Relationships and Telling Your Story

Dirt Rich PodcastConnecting with others and meeting new people has always been important to John Beaton, and it’s this flair for relationship building that is at the heart of his farm story.

John and Emily Beaton operate Fairhaven Farm just north of Duluth, Minnesota, and are members of SFA’s Lake Superior Chapter. John got his start on a local CSA vegetable farm, where his mentor, Rick, eventually gave him space to plant his own field to start his farm business–something Rick’s own mentor had also done for him when he was starting out.

A series of meet cutes and handshakes paved the way for the Beatons to buy a farm and grow their business in new directions. They were also privileged to have steady off-farm employment and financial support from family. John and Emily currently run a 50-member CSA on just shy of an acre of production, and grow plant starts for their local co-op and several other accounts in the region. These enterprises, too, grew out of personal connections and intention.

After receiving so much support from others in purchasing a farm and getting started, John wants to do the same for other emerging farmers. Utilizing his firsthand experience with the process of finding and purchasing farmland, he serves as a Farmland Access Navigator through Renewing the Countryside’s Farmland Access Hub. Through this grant-funded program, he provides detailed, free guidance for land-seekers. He also serves as a Conservation Connector, helping connect historically underserved farmers with conservation programs such as EQIP and CSP (both of which his farm has applied for and received) that can provide some financial support.

John intends to keep paying it forward. “We need more farms here, and whatever I can do to help people achieve that…that’s my goal.” This ethos is baked into Fairhaven Farm itself. He and Emily are looking to expand their gathering space centered around their pizza oven, building up a regional farm store and event space.

To build relationships with others, John encourages fellow farmers to put themselves out there and tell their story. “Every bit of good fortune in one’s life comes from other people,” he says. And in connecting with others and authentically sharing one’s story, it creates opportunities to help each other out.

You can listen to Dirt Rich anywhere you get your podcasts, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Podbean, and on the SFA website. Do you have ideas for future episodes? Comments? Drop us a line.