Rebecca Graff and Tom Ruggieri, Fair Share Farm. Credit: Fair Share Farm

This year may have been an average year in the end, but what really happened was that we had a big rain event and then no rain for a month and then another big rain event, so we got 12 inches in July and then nothing in August and September. So, if you just look at the average, it looks like an average year, but we basically seem to be fluctuating from drought to flood and back again.

Rebecca Graff & Tom Ruggieri

Fair Share Farm

Midwest Region | Kearney, MO

Main Product: Vegetables

Scale: 10 acres under management

Featured Resilience Behaviors:

Carbon farming, vegetable ferments, Master Line earthworks.

Rebecca Graff and Tom Ruggieri own and operate Fair Share Farm, a diversified vegetable farm located in rural Clay County, Missouri. Together they manage about ten acres of annual and perennial vegetables and fruits, culinary herbs and a large flock of laying hens to feed people in the Kansas City metro area. They market fresh vegetables, fruits and eggs from their farm through a CSA and produce vegetable ferments for direct wholesale and farmers market sales. They also coordinate with other producers in their area to offer meat, cheese and bread options to their CSA members. This farm-based food hub/food circle model allows them to provide a more diverse group of products to their CSA while also cultivating a diverse network of local food production capacity.

Rebecca and Tom met back in 2001, just a year after each had left unsatisfying jobs to look for a better way to support healthy community by working in sustainable agriculture. Their paths crossed at Peacework Farm, an organic vegetable farm in western New York where Rebecca was working as a first-year apprentice. “Tom came out to one of the first member workdays,” Rebecca recalls. “It was mid-May and I had been there just about a month. I admired his leek-trimming skills as we were preparing vegetables for market. We went on our first date a week later. We apprenticed together the following year and we’ve been farming together ever since.”

After another year working as apprentices at the Micheala Farm in southeast Indiana, Rebecca and Tom headed back to Missouri to begin farming on land that has been in Rebecca’s family for four generations. The Graff family farm, like most farms in the area, produced corn, soybeans and cattle using conventional commodity production practices. “I grew up on a farm,” says Rebecca, “but I did not learn how to grow crops of any kind, so it was all new to me when I started my first apprenticeship.” Using holistic farm planning and biological farming practices, Rebecca and Tom worked over the years to create a farm sustained by healthy soils and healthy community.

Want to read more? You can find the full version of this story in the Second Edition of Resilient Agriculture, available for purchase here.