I just didn’t believe the help that [The Progress Fund] gave us. If they didn’t, we would probably be a year or two behind. … We just keep going back to them.
“When my dad died, I started realizing that life does end, and you might as well be doing something that you love,” says Jeff Horn. So he left the insurance industry and returned to his family’s farm. He and his wife, Mandi, won organic certification and later began selling produce through her new restaurant. They wanted to consolidate debt and improve grazing capacity, but getting a bank loan proved a hard row to hoe.
With U.S. Department of Agriculture help, the Horns divided the farm into 17 pastures with water tanks and troughs. The Progress Fund, which supports local agriculture, loaned $190,000 to address the debt and improvements.
“Organic farming,” says Jeff, “really is a new way of farming, and it takes a lot of research to do that.” Accordingly, he used local lumber to fence off the pastures, and pipe from area vendors to distribute water. Now the Horn’s Farm cattle and sheep drink from troughs rather than sullying streams, and each pasture gets time to recover between grazing periods. The farm supplies organic food to Horn O Plenty: A Farm to Table Restaurant. “It’s not uncommon for people to come here who might have a food allergy or be taking chemotherapy,” Jeff says. “We started farming for ourselves, and ended up helping other people.”