Biz Buzz: Family farm celebrates 50 years and looks to the future

Photo by Diana Cervantes.

This year Schwebach Farm in Moriarty is celebrating 50 years in operation as a family farm, with the torch passing to Dean and Ive Schwebach 17 years ago. The Schwebachs are building on the roots of traditional family-run agriculture, while looking to the future and the realities of farming for a living.

With six children, ranging in age from 3 to 21, the farm is a family business, and provides opportunities for hard work and seeing the results of that work pay off, Ive Schwebach said. “We love the whole idea of being able to do something that people did for many, many generations, as they worked together, usually in agrarian lifestyles,” she said. “So we’re grateful we have the opportunity to do that still. For our children to work hard and see the fruit of that labor, of course is very evident on a farm. You put that seed in, you cultivate it, you nourish it—then it grows and produces something that can be shared.”

Addie Schwebach attempts to wrangle a chicken. Photo by Diana Cervantes.

Many small farms, in an effort to be competitive in the era of modern agriculture and millions of acres of monoculture, have turned to “agri-tourism” and other ways to increase productivity and to be financially viable.

In the case of Schwebach Farm, its expanded offerings in the past few years have included school tours and “you pick” days, which expose people to agriculture.

New offerings this year include a CSA, which stands for “community supported agriculture,” in which people pay in advance for a share of the farm’s yield, and then getting a weekly box which includes whatever is in season.

This is the first year the farm has offered a CSA, and the 30 spots were quickly snapped up by the community once announced. This year will be a test run for the program, and Schwebach said she hopes to expand it next year.

The cost works out to $25 a box; while this year, the entire cost had to be paid up front, in the future the farm hopes to be able to take monthly subscriptions.

Another new offering at the farm will be dinners on the farm. On Aug. 18, Schwebach Farm will host the 50th Anniversary Sweet Corn Festival & Family Dinner in the Field; and Sept. 8, guest chef Daniel Puccini of Roots Farm Cafe will be on hand for a family dinner in the field.

Freddie Bennett strings up some tomatoes early Thursday morning. Bennett has worked at Schwebach farms for 9 years. Photo by Diana Cervantes.

The beauty of the farm is something most people can relate to, Schwebach said, adding that young people may not have ever been to a farm, with a middle generation that may have grown up on a farm, and an even older generation that were farmers. All of those people enjoy visiting a farm for different reasons.

Schwebach said she has seen an increased interest among younger people about farming. “Over the years, people have said it’s just so peaceful here, and thy love being here,” she said. “We started thinking, what other ways can we create people spending more time here. … Ultimately we want to create a place for our community to engage, and we’re hoping some of these things will create that kind of atmosphere.”

Another new offering last year was a food truck, featuring locally raised beef from King Farm and other local products including their own produce, Schwebach said.

She grew up in the city, and when her husband Dean said he wanted to return to farming in Moriarty, she was a little skeptical. “I think once it gets in you, it’s hard not to want to go back to it,” she remembered with a laugh. “He shared that vision with me, and I was a little reluctant coming from the city, thinking, ‘I don’t even know, what do you do with peas? What’s rhubarb?’ And I can’t keep houseplants alive so this isn’t going to work very well for me to be involved.”

She continued, “It was a little scary, but I knew it was in his heart and I wanted to support him in that, and so now I understand how it becomes a part of you that you don’t want to leave—and you want to instill that in your children, but also give them opportunities to go do what they feel called to do.”

One of their older children has said he wants to come back to the farm someday. “The littlest still come out, they play in the dirt. When they get to about 4 or 5, they want to start helping, so it’s a wonderful opportunity for them working right alongside us.”

The Schwebachs have seen an increased interest in small-scale agriculture, and also seek to be a resource to other farmers in the area. “I do walk in the fields in the evenings a lot,” she said. “That’s something we want to share. I think this is beauty, and I want other people to enjoy it, too.”

To reach Schwebach Farm for information about farm dinners or other offerings, contact 505-832-6171 or email dean@schwebachfarm.com. The farm also has a website, schwebachfarm.com, and is active on Facebook.