Farmer Spotlight: Karen Burwinkel’s Family Farm Started in 1918

From foodtank.com, by Maggie Roth
Farmer Spotlight: Karen Burwinkel’s Family Farm Started in 1918

My name is Karen Burwinkel and I have been farming with my family at Burwinkel Farms almost my whole life. We have been a family farm since 1918

I grow corn, tomatoes, and lots of other produce at my farm in Ross, Ohio.

My favorite thing about being a farmer is the work ethic. It's in you. You really learn how to work hard and it sticks with you

My farmer idol or superhero are my parents because I definitely look up to them and try to be like them

My favorite song to listen to on the farm is: We make up our own songs including a Gilligan’s Island song version for farming

When I’m not farming I like to eat gourmet food. I really love food and dining! But it has to be nutritious food, not fast food. 

My favorite thing to grow is corn and pumpkins

My favorite thing to eat is peaches, zucchini, and everything fresh.  I really enjoy food.

If I could change one thing about the food system it would be education, people do not know where their food comes from. There should be more education about the food system. There should be a program from elementary school on up about agriculture, how things grow, where things grow, and how marketing affects it. People have misconceptions or lack of understanding of how the food system works. I am passionate about education and I wish I had more time for it.  

Something you don’t know about me is: We are branching out and creating a Burwinkel's Banquet Hall

If I could tell the world one thing about what being a farmer is like it would be: Commitment, you have to be in this business 100 percent and work very hard

I am reducing post-harvest losses by donating products to food pantries or giving away food. We make sure food is not wasted

I conserve water on my farm by: We are a small farm and only use water when needed. We are not wasteful of the water. Fortunately we are not in drought this year

Climate change is affecting my farm through making each season unpredictable on how it affects the crops. You never know what lies ahead in a given season

I think we need more young people involved in farming because we need to educate and train a new generation to replace the current one when they retire. The young people need to learn about commitment, work ethic, and about the food system which is important to us all.

One thing I’m doing to create healthy soil on my farm is soil testing.

The most difficult thing about sustainable farming is Mother Nature, which has its own plan.

I missed farming after going away to college. I did not plan on being so involved in farming when I first went to college.  I never thought I would be running the farm. I worked as a researcher at the Children’s hospital in Cincinnati, OH after college. But over time I grew to miss farming and came back to it and now I'm a full time manager. Plus I realized you have to be fully committed to make it work

It is a family farm, many family members are involved in some capacity

The following resources, programs, or organizations are most valuable to my farm: The Ohio State University Extension Services for Agriculture are very helpful. They will spend hours with you. I highly recommend them.