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Friday, May 14, 2021

Reviving a family’s way of life

Freshman Micah Lund goes home on weekends to help his family on their farm.  // Photo by Jake Tull
Freshman Micah Lund goes home on weekends to help his family on their farm. // Photo by Jake Tull

Stepping onto the Lund family farm is a jump backward in time where everything is grown with the help of original tools from the 1900s. The old farmhouse stands next to a pond, surrounded by trees with no neighbors in sight and fields for corn, potatoes and wheat all around.

When Western freshman Micah Lund’s grandfather died a little over a year ago, his father inherited the 32-acre farm in Kingston, Washington, that has been in their family for the past few hundred years. The family soon moved to the property. However, it had fallen into complete disarray to the point of being nearly inoperable, Micah said.

Over the past year, with the help of uncles and other relatives, the Lund family began to repair the farm back to the way it once was.

“Recently we just harvested about 16 acres of timber, which back in the day would normally pay the entire taxes for the land,” Micah said. “That doesn’t exactly work in today’s economy.”

Making the farm profitable by exploring what works is the next step, according to Micah’s mother, Tamara Lund.

In the process of repairing parts of the farm, the Lund family is also trying to make the farm more energy efficient by using solar panels and original hand-powered tools.

“We just rebuilt the entire barn, which is where a majority of the money from the timber went, and hopefully we are going to get solar panels on top of that,” Micah said. “With the well, which has been there since the past hundred years, plus the solar panels, it should be completely self-sufficient.”

When he inherited the farm, Micah’s father, DJ Lund, made the decision to use most of the original farm equipment, including an old tractor, traditional English scythes to cut the wheat and an old trailer for hauling. Continuing to use the these tools was a practical way to ensure the farm would stay organic, Micah said.

“The tractor is a 1954 tractor,” DJ said. “The trailer has been there since before I was born and whether they are hand saws or other things, they are the same ones my dad and my grandpa used.”

As a child, Micah would spend some weekends helping out on the farm and learning how to work with his hands.

His parents describe him as someone who knows his way around the land, an Eagle Scout who had a hands-on learning technique.

“[Micah] was a curious one, always, always curious. He had to know how things worked, or why they worked,” DJ said. “It has made him more conscious that nothing comes easy.”

Curious cows approach the camera on the Lund family farm.  // Photo courtesy of Micah Lund
Curious cows approach the camera on the Lund family farm. // Photo courtesy of Micah Lund

 The Lund family farm. // Photo courtesy of Micah Lund
The Lund family farm. // Photo courtesy of Micah Lund

Now, as Micah attends Western, he makes a trip back every weekend to help his family out.

Small farms like the Lund farm do not attract as many customers as the big 1000-acre farms in the area and are difficult to maintain in a modern economy, Micah said.

“Who would buy from a 32-acre farm when a majority of farms are multiple hundreds of acres?” Micah said. “Right now we are just growing hay and we’ll probably just sell that to any local horse stable or boarding place.”

With orchards, fields and plenty of open space, the 32-acre farm is staying quiet for the time being while the family rebuilds it back to its original status.

“What’s special about this farm is its remoteness and that peacefulness,” Tamara said. “It is quite a ways away from busy roads and it can be very isolating.”

The future of the farm depends on the interest of Micah and his younger sister to determine if it is worth maintaining or should be sold for other purposes, DJ said.

“In a few years, the money from the timber might actually run out, which is what we are worried about,” Micah said. “So we are thinking about selling all of our produce to a craft brewery or becoming a craft brewery ourselves.”

Whether it stays in the family, or goes to another company, the Lund family hopes the farm will remain traditional and organic for generations to come. 

“It’s kind of just a time machine,” Micah said.  “The whole farm is just a window to the past, and I love that about it.”

DJ Lund, Micah’s father, sits on their 1954 tractor. The tractor, like other equipment the family uses, is the same one the farm has been using since its start. // Photo courtesy of Micah Lund
DJ Lund, Micah’s father, sits on their 1954 tractor. The tractor, like other equipment the family uses, is the same one the farm has been using since its start. // Photo courtesy of Micah Lund

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