Kern Family Farms: Cultivating Connections Between People and Land


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Aaron and Hansel Kern are owners along with Sue and Rebecca Kern, of Kern Family Farm. The multi-generational farm is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.
In this episode,you’ll hear about their passion for community and conservation; trials with no-till and cover cropping; and the transition to the next generation.
The farm is certified organic and they use regenerative farming practices. The Kerns are dedicated to re-cultivating connections between the people and the land in which their food and lives depend upon. They are focused on education, working with apprentices and WWOOFers. The Kerns also operate a grocery store to help provide healthy food to their local community.
Roles are changing on this multi-generational farm. Aaron talks about his knowing about wanting to be a farmer from a very early age, and Hansel discusses his "gently relinquishing management to Aaron."
The Kerns are big believers in cover cropping; working for 20 years toward getting their organic matter up. Hansel gives credit to the next generation for moving away from mechanical spader, going no-till, and having their organic matter grew even more.
Aaron Kern is participating in a Western SARE funded project, Effects of Occultation on Weed Pressure, Labor Costs, Product Quality, and Yield in Sustainable Vegetable Production in Northern California.
Note: this podcast was recorded prior to the impacts on agriculture due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a follow up, Aaron told us that the farm has gone through changes and stresses. However, the community is really supporting local foods with a renewed interest. Their farm store sales have greatly increased, off-setting the loss of restaurant and farmers market sales. People are reaching out to them for advise on starting gardens and even buying plants from them out of their newfound interest in growing their own food. The interns that live on farm are constantly expressing gratitude to be sheltered in place on a farm in nature. The challenge is keeping everyone, especially those in the high-risk category, safe and healthy.
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