Working the Land: Craig Haney

Craig Haney
Director, Growing Farmers Initiative

Originally from: Cooperstown, N.Y. (home of baseball)

What does your farming background bring to your new role at SBC?
A deep appreciation of the joys and challenges facing beginning farmers, an understanding of the motivation and skills needed for a farmer to succeed—and the enthusiasm to see them succeed!

As a farmer yourself, what did you learn that you want most to pass on to the next generation?
The key is to work efficiently while always paying attention. Details matter. Take the time necessary to observe with all of one’s senses. Smell the manure, feel the bedding, watch animals’ behavior, taste the grain, listen to the sounds of the animals.

How is the Growing Farmers Initiative evolving to help beginning farmers?
We’re constantly re-assessing our trainings and identifying opportunities and challenges that beginning farmers face. Our most recent efforts have focused on increasing our apprentices’ business literacy and hosting more gatherings to inspire established and beginning farmers from all walks of life.

Does your seven-year-old daughter like being around farm animals as much as you do?
She likes the animals and the work. Some of my fondest memories are of talking with her about an issue on the farm and then troubleshooting together. Even as a toddler, she was eager to jump into a paddock with the animals and be involved. And I’ve been proud of her observational skills.

Who inspired you most toward the agrarian life?
My grandfather, who showed me the work ethic needed (though he could play as hard as he worked). Homer Fassett, whose patience and quiet tenacity inspired when I worked in his maple sugar bush as a young man. Also The Little House series and Wendell Berry’s works.  His poems that celebrate “place” grabbed my heart and his essays helped me to reason through my desire to be dedicated to a place— to be dedicated to working with the land.

What’s your favorite farm-fresh meal cooked at home?
I do like the fuss, care and rituals of grilling. Grilling grass-fed, dry-rubbed lamb shoulder chops with an assortment of grilled vegetables coated in olive oil, a big leafy green salad with maple vinaigrette, some Blue Hill bread and a glass of wine.


Photo by Nicole Franzen