Growing Our Generation

Growing our Generation: Starting from scratch
Dave and Elizabeth Petro of Ashtabula County are editors of the June 5, 2017 Growing our Generation enewsletter, featuring insights and ideas directly from Ohio’s young farmers and food and agricultural professionals.

We’ve always liked the saying, “Live simply. Simply live.” There is a lot of freedom in that. However, living simply does not equate to living easy.
We are Dave and Elizabeth Petro and neither of us grew up with a farming background. We were both raised in the suburbs in northeast Ohio on the shore of Lake Erie. Dave is a skilled carpenter running a full time home remodeling business and I work in the home. We have three children, Joslyn (8), Hannah (6) and Hunter (3), and a slew of projects on our twenty acres…trying to find the one to develop into a full-blown operation. We are passionate about sustainability, healthy and organic food, supporting local farmers and businesses, farm to table meals, and community involvement. We became members of the Ohio Farm Bureau to become educated, informed and be supportive to our local agricultural community.
We know starting a farm from scratch is going to be a long and hard journey, but one we are proud and excited to be on. We didn’t even really know how to get started, we just knew we had to take one step and keep moving forward. We bought land, built a new barn, bought a tractor and started out small with our garden, chickens and digging ponds to raise fish. We love meeting and talking to people who stop to buy our free-range eggs and we love showing interested people around our property to show how we use sustainable living practices.

READ FULL EDITORIAL HERE: https://ofbf.org/2017/06/01/growing-generation-starting-scratch/#.WTsN05-Fzo8.gmail Continue reading “Growing Our Generation”

Starting a Farm from Scratch: A Vision of Sustainable Living

Our small budget allowed us to purchase an old “fixer upper” on 20 acres in Ashtabula County. We didn’t care that the existing barn had collapsed or that the house was in shambles. We owned land! And land means the freedom to provide and sustain.

We know starting a farm from scratch is going to be a long and hard journey, but one we are proud and excited to be on. We didn’t even really know how to get started, we just knew we had to take one step and keep moving forward. We bought land, built our barn, bought a tractor and started out small with our garden and chickens. We dug multiple ponds on the property to have the foundation for our fish farm ready to go, but still had a lot of other things to get our property be set-up for sustainable living. Our garden provides vegetables, squash, potatoes and legumes all year around and we raise enough chicken, hunt and fish enough each year to provide our family with enough. When we have extra, we love to share our harvest with friends and neighbors. When we fall short, we are fortunate to be able to buy locally raised meat from various sources. We have a roadside stand for our fresh eggs and are finally at a point where we have enough of an abundance to sell some of our garden produce. 

Our vision for the future of Petro Farms is to show and teach others how you can use one to five acres of land to sustain your family. Rain barrels, gardens, fruit trees, a few livestock, repurposing materials, being conservative with your energy and making your own food. We want to be a place where people can learn how we are doing it and what they can do at their own homes. 

 

Survival!

Early this spring we assessed Ponds 1 and 2, the two ponds we put the Perch eggs in last spring. We thought Pond 1 had originally been filled with little Perch fry, but as they grew a little bigger we determined they were just Shiners. We shrugged and said, “Oh well, we have a pond full of thousands of bait fish to sell.” Pond #2 was not showing any signs of life all year.
Pond #1 also has a number of Bass in it. Not what we want because they are bigger and will eat the fish we want to keep. So, Dave has been working to fish out the Bass all year.

This past weekend he took the kids out to the pond to work on fishing out the remaining Bass. And what was the surprise catch in Pond #2?!  A 4-inch Perch! We are pleased to know that some of the perch eggs did hatch and are surviving in the pond. We will during further assessments with nets to determine how many and what sizes they are.

But overall, our first year experiment of hatching eggs in the ponds has been somewhat successful.

Summer 2015 progress

There are now four hatchery ponds on the property (plus the original property pond). Ponds 1 AND 2 have Perch in them! We thought the one pond was dead, but Dave discovered the other day that there are indeed baby perch in there. We plan to let those fish grow out so we can harvest their eggs in the future. Ponds 3 and 4 should be full of water by next summer. Also completed this summer is the in ground cistern for over flow.

Pond 4 next to Pond 1
Pond 1

Progress this summer….2 more ponds.

Finally we got warm, dry weather in late July…allowing us to dig two additional ponds. That will be it for this summer, because more land must to be cleared before more digging can occur. Remaining on the to-do list this summer is putting in a well (this weekend) and continue fishing out the bass from the pond. They are eating the baby perch! Fortunately, it turns out that Joslyn is quite the little fisher. She kills ’em out there with her little princess rod!

Oh, and additional perks to digging ponds – playing in the mud, endless dirt piles to climb, and late summer evening skinny dipping.

“Does it look deep enough?!”

Mud Zombies