HANCOCK COUNTY — There are more than 600 farms in Hancock County, comprising nearly 166,000 acres of farmland, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Farmers and horticulturists from all over the county are lining up to share the fruits — and vegetables — of their labor at farmers markets. This feature will introduce one local producer who can be found selling goods at local farmers’ markets.

Joe Zahnd

Zahnd Farm

What do you make and/or grow?

“In addition to produce, we have jams, jellies and pies. My sister makes soaps, and I sell them.”

How did you get into farming?

“I grew up on a farm. My parents bought the farm when I was a baby, and they’ve been there since 1964.”

Who works on the farm?

“My wife and mom help out. My mom’s gonna be 90, but she’s still getting it done. If you buy a pie from us, you’re getting pie crust made by a 90-year-old.”

What do you like best about being a farmer?

“Being your own boss.”

How has your business changed over the years?

“We used to do the whole farm, but then my dad retired and passed. We keep the garden and one small orchard. It used to be a dairy farm, and that was cool — but not since I was a senior in high school.”

How has agriculture changed over the years?

“Back when I was in high school, every farmer fed about five or six people, but now one farmer has to feed 100 to 200 people. The day of a 100-acre farm is over — unless you happen to be growing a really good crop such as blackberries or raspberries. You’re either huge or you’re nonexistent. When I was in high school, 80 acres was a good patch of land.”

What are your future goals?

“Just to keep my garden going, that’s all. Not even worried about whether we sell anything, recoup our money on our seed purchases, other than that it’s just to meet people.

Mom’s got 78 acres, and she rents. A couple guys are really seriously trying to earn a living at it.

My mom wants to keep gardening, so we help her. As long as everyone is eating good, that’s all that really matters.”

Author photo
Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.