Skip Navigation

#Fridaysonthefarm: Beginning, Veteran Farmer Grazes His Way to Success

#Fridaysonthefarm: Beginning, Veteran Farmer Grazes His Way to Success Header

Story by: Tivoli Gough, NRCS Wisconsin; photos by Justin Duell

Each Friday, meet farmers, producers and landowners through our #Fridaysonthefarm stories. Visit local farms, ranches, forests and resource areas where NRCS and partners help people help the land.  CLICK HERE to view all #Fridaysonthefarmstories.    


This Friday, we meet beginning, veteran farmer Justin Duell at The G Farm in Larsen, Wisconsin. Learn how this Army veteran turned hard work and good business sense into a job that he loves.

#Fridaysonthefarm: Beginning, Veteran Farmer Grazes His Way to Success Map

 

New Beginnings

Enter Justin Duell’s farmhouse at The G Farm in Larsen, Wisconsin, and you'll see shelves lined with homemade maple syrup -- a visual reminder of his roots and his passion for farming.  

This beginning, veteran farmer served in the U.S. Army after 9/11. After Justin completed his military service and education, he spent ten years in tax preparation.  He gardened and canned on the side. Raised chickens. Eventually, he leased maple hardwoods from his grandfather.  

And Justin earned his first farm dollar from those woods, making maple syrup.

“I only made $90 the first year, but I realized I loved the work,” says Duell.

 

Justin founded The G Farm in August 2014, before he'd even purchased farmland, with a clear purpose -- to deliver high quality meat and produce directly to the dinner table.

Growth on the Farm

With information from podcasts, social media and books, Justin established the farm infrastructure, gained a USDA Farm Service Agency loan and purchased a 27 acre farm in Winnebago County.  

Chickens became the first residents of and income producers for The G Farm, followed by six pregnant cows and one cow-calf pair. Now eleven cattle graze the beautiful farm pasture.

“I am trying to move to a comfortable capacity for my barn and farmland,” says Justin.

 

To grow The G Farm strategically, Justin attended a permaculture design course and heard about the NRCS.

“Justin was able to start by developing a plan for his farm, to effectively manage and plan out grazing practices,” says local NRCS District Conservationist Merrie Schamberger.

Justin recently received an NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contract for pipeline, fencing, watering tanks and re-seeding pasture. The plan will restore the old corn field and re-plant it with hay and other pasture plants that will benefit the entire grazing system.

Justin’s interest in silvopasture sparked the need to plant trees -- 750 of them. “I created a silvopasture, planting 8 rows of trees to provide a buffer along the field edge border,” says Justin. The new EQIP contract will add rows of trees in a different pasture area as part of a shelterbelt. Cattle can graze in between, and it adds a windbreak for them, plus shelter for winter.

Justin also participates in the NRCS Conservation Stewarship Program (CSP) through pasture planning and planting trees and shrubs that produce flowers and berries for wildlife in his pastures. He will host a pasture walk on the farm this year to teach others how to effectively implement managed grazing. Visitors can follow The G Farm on Instagram to view new farm photos regularly.

#Fridaysontheefarm: Beginning, Veteran Farmer Grazes His Way to Success Collage

 

Justin practices a holistic approach with principles rooted in creating a diverse and well managed system. “I also have a farm partner, Emily Heeg, I do a yearly garden with; we do vegetable stands and Community Supported Agriculture,” says Justin. The garden is free from herbicides and pesticides. He and Heeg also utilize alternative techniques to increase soil fertility, avoid pest issues and increase nutrient content.

When asked about the importance of conservation, Justin says there’s no other way to farm. 

Looking Ahead

Justin now works the farm, with tax preparation on the side, as he builds the farm business. Through the food he produces and farm visits, he knows that he’s making a difference.

“The toughest thing to do is to get started, and the beginning farmer program with NRCS helped me achieve my goals,” says Justin.

 

Justin continues to push himself forward. In the next year, he plans to work with NRCS on a successful, healthy and fully-diversified farm. 

He truly wants to be your farmer, to bring high quality meat and produce to your dinner table.

CLICK HERE to learn more about NRCS programs for veteran farmers and ranchers.


Follow the #Fridaysonthefarm and other voluntary conservation stories on @USDA_NRCS Twitter offsite link image     and @USDA Facebook offsite link image    .

View the interactive ESRI storymap of this #Fridaysonthefarm feature. offsite link image