Farming with nature
When you convert the farmer, the farm will follow.
Ask Scott Stoller why he transitioned from conventional to organic farming methods, and he’ll smile at his wife Charlene: “Because I married a little lady who routinely asked me why I gave antibiotics to my cows.”
If it sounds like there’s more to that story, that’s because there is. For most of his life, Scott was dismissive of organic agriculture. You cannot feed the world farming organically, he used to tell Charlene, because that’s what he learned on his father’s farm. “For me, it was ‘how dad always did it was right,’” he says. “But here a little, and there a little, she would work on me to try and undo all those things.”
For Charlene, there was never any question. “To me, organic is back to the way God made it. It’s just the instinctive way to farm with nature, and not against it—to make the best use of it and not fight it.”
Today, Scott is a fourth-generation farmer and a first-generation convert to organic. So are all eight Stoller kids. “There’s no question that farming organically gives my kids a better chance at farming in the future,” Scott says. “They’re all gung-ho for organic agriculture, because they’ve never known anything different.”
The kids couldn’t ask for a better example than their parents—since converting to organic, the Stollers’ farm has become a model for sustainability both in Ohio and beyond. In 2007, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service named the Stollers’ farm as one of the seven most-sustainable operations in the country. And locally, nearby landowners continue to ask the Stollers to take stewardship over their lands with the hope that organic agriculture can bring them back to life.
“It shows that organic and conservation go hand-in-hand,” says Scott. “The system has proven itself. It works.”