Jenna Gregorich of Coshocton County is the editor of the June 2022 Growing our Generation enewsletter.Read More
Hannah DiVencenzo of Lorain County is the editor of the January 2022 Growing our Generation enewsletter, featuring insights and ideas directly from Ohio’s young farmers and food and agricultural professionals.
Lorain County Farm Bureau member Hannah DiVencenzo and her husband, Joe, own and operate Healthy Harvest Organics LLC, a pasture-raised chicken operation that provides high-quality local food in an environment that supports regenerative agriculture, local markets and consumer education on 35 acres in Grafton Township. They sell honey, meat and eggs directly to consumers as well as through an online farmers market. Most of their acreage is rented out to an organic grain farmer in their county. They are excited to see sunflowers growing and look forward to expanding their offerings in 2022.
Hannah works full time off the farm at Lorain County Community College as a program developer and adjunct instructor. Joe currently farms full time.
We were editors of Growing Our Generation in January 2019 and have some updates to share. When we last wrote for GOG, we were not farming yet, but our story is one where a lot can happen in just two short years. With our combined backgrounds, we knew we were dreaming of farming full time, and we have since made that happen. Since January of 2019 we have purchased our farm, built a house and barn and started a farm operation on the last piece of land in Joe’s family. We are farming where his great grandparents were dairy farmers. Our hard work has paid off over the past two years, and this year Joe will be working full time at the farm. We also have added another set of working hands to our operation with the birth of our third son, Oliver, in May of 2019. Currently we are looking to expand into the meat processing industry and take our homesteading skills to the next level. We do not measure our success off profitability or acreage but off happiness, and we are happy to report there is no better life such as the one we have built together. Yes, it is hard but every minute is worth it. Hatching baby chicks with our kids has been a highlight of our first year in production.
I have served on the Lorain County Farm Bureau board of trustees since 2019, but Joe has been a Farm Bureau member for many years with his family. Currently I serve on the Ohio Farm Bureau State Young Ag Professionals Committee with the goal to introduce more young ag professionals into entrepreneurial ventures related to their goals. We need more young members in our profession and as a state committee member, I look forward to meeting all of you at the Winter Leadership Conference to chat about how you can turn your dreams into reality. You do not have to inherit an operation to get started in agriculture. You can start small and turn your small business into a thriving full-time job. I started as a homesteader with a dream to raise my family on a farm and couldn’t be any happier than where we are right now.
We have worked extremely hard to build the life we want, and time is always a limiting factor especially when you have small kids. We effectively plan goals so that we can work backwards to have them done on our timeline using SMART goals (SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Based). We prioritize our time and follow the plan in order to advance our farm. We think people our age struggle with saying no, but we have learned that there are some things we have to say no to but that does not always mean it is no forever. Sometimes it is no for now. We want to build a pond on our farm but we know that this goal is not relevant right now. We are sure it will become relevant in the future, but there are other more important things we need to do first before we can move to that step in advancing our farm.
Are you taking any classes or applying for a certification?
We both enjoy learning more than we realized until we saw our schedule filling up with in person learning opportunities and not enough time to implement what we learned. We dove head first into our new farming operation in early 2020 and it took us a bit to realize when you have a blank slate it can get really overwhelming and the possibilities are endless. We had to choose one place to start and go with that to see how we liked it and how we fit into the market. We are happy to report that we picked a great place to start and are looking to expand on that opportunity. Since starting our operation we have received our farm market and small egg producer certifications with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
What inspires you when life gets hard?
When life gets hard, our kids are our inspiration. We were not sure how we would fit into the agricultural world as a new business, but we went into it with the mentality that if everyone hated our products and we didn’t get any customers at least we could still feed our family and friends and that is all that matters. The good news is that we really are blessed to have the best customers ever.
A trend we see happening in the world is the shift in our food system. Being a complex system, the pandemic exposed some of the inefficiencies and allowed for consumers to redirect their attention to local markets. As we navigate this pandemic world, we as business owners had to define where we stand within the food system. We knew we wanted to fulfill the local market and our business values aligned with selling direct to consumer. The most exciting thing about agriculture is that there is room for everyone and anyone who wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. One of our dearest friends describes agriculture as a tree and all of the branches represent all of the different aspects of agriculture. There needs to be a strong trunk to allow for all of the branches to flourish and in America we believe that trunk is stronger than ever.
Tell us a joke or funny story.
Our 7-year-old Wyatt: What do you do when your fish sounds bad? Tune-a-fish!
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