Why we farm

Fat Toaster Farm is located just north of the quaint little town of Rockford, Michigan.

Zach and Lindsay on the farm

Highland Cattle lived at Fat Toaster farm during the first two years that we were here. While we no longer raise them, we remember them fondly.

Zach and Lindsay Oaster were not always farmers; in fact, neither of them grew up on a farm. In the autumn of 2009 they fulfilled a long-time dream, and bought a small six-acre property just 20 minutes north on US-131 of Michigan’s second largest city, Grand Rapids. Animals were soon to follow.

The journey toward a farm started at an early age for Zach, as his paternal grandfather was a lifelong small farmer. As a child, he made trips to Grandpa and Grandma’s house to enjoy spring lambs, Belgian draft horses, and (what are now antique) John Deere tractors.

When Zach was in his early 20s he spent three summers helping his aging grandfather take care of the Oaster farm in Nashville, Michigan. Many hours were spent cutting wood or mowing brush, and all the while listening to Grandpa extol the virtues of the “old ways” from when farming was a family activity. It was a lifestyle that both supported the family from the land, and required little in the lines of money and consumerism to survive.

Small farming was a system that had been developed from centuries of struggle, knowledge of land management, and animal husbandry. Zach’s grandfather was a true expert – a “last of his kind” – and Zach caught a passion for those old ways during those summers on the farm.

Lindsay and Zach spent several years dreaming plans for a future farm project. They were particularly interested in how to meld the “old ways” that Grandpa had taught with new emerging ideas about local “slow” food and ecologically friendly sustainable farming.

Jacob Sheep during their very first winter at the farm. Pictured (L to R) is Nixon, Roberta (back), and Cecilia.

Fat Toaster Farm

Summer is beautiful at Fat Toaster Farm!

The dream is now realized, and Fat Toaster Farm is the result. Ancient, unimproved, “primitive” breeds of livestock are the primary focus of the farm’s animal husbandry efforts. Jacob sheep, chickens, Silver Fox rabbits, and a few barn cats can be seen dotting the green pasture behind the big red barn.

Zach is currently a full-time graduate student at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan studying Sociology. Zach also works as a tech/music consultant and performance artist to churches. His focus is social justice and community building. Lindsay is a professor of physics at Grand Valley State University. Both of them are passionate about farming in their spare time. The goal of the farm right now is raising as much of their own meat and fruit/vegetables as possible, expanding their knowledge of fiber arts (sheep produce wool!), and study (all of which should not be confused with the idea of a “hobby farm”). Lindsay has become somewhat of an expert at crocheting, while Zach has become quite proficient at the art of spinning wool fiber into yarn. Other adventures such as tanning hides, learning how to do basic veterinary work,  and various culinary, fermenting, and homebrewing exploits have ensued.

Tractors at Fat Toaster Farm

Zach sits atop his Grandfather Robert Oaster’s John Deere A. Both tractors are now part of the collection at Fat Toaster Farm.

The old family farm in Nashville is now gone, as are Grandpa and Grandma Oaster. But, Grandpa’s old John Deere tractors (an A and a 60) are now nestled into the barn at Fat Toaster Farm. The Oaster farming legacy continues as Zach and Lindsay engage their community in a conversation about food justice, access to healthy and high quality food for all people, neighborliness, and sharing of the commons.

The goal is to learn as much as possible and pass the knowledge along via books, blogs, and conversations. Zach and Lindsay welcome your questions, mentoring, and other contributions that can help us along the way in our journey of learning. Please contact us and visit anytime!

%d bloggers like this: