Thor wanted to be a farmer since he can remember. He started farming in his parents' suburban yard after visits to his uncle's farm in rural Pennsylvania. Thor bought the 15-acre home farm that is now Oechsner Farms in 1991 and farmed part time, running a car mechanic business and teaching diesel mechanics to BOCES students. By 2003, he had enough acres in production and enough equipment in the shop – a combine, a few tractors, and plenty of implements – to devote himself fulltime to grain farming.

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Farming Practices and Philosophy

We farm organically. This means soil is our primary crop, one we don’t ever sell. The grain crops are planted on the land based on soil conditions and needs. Where and when we grow each grain is determined by a number of factors, including the basic quality of the soil – tilth, drainage, slope, for example – and what has been planted on the soil in prior seasons.

Rotating crops is a hallmark of organic agriculture. Planting the same crop year after year depletes nutrients, invites pests and soil-borne problems. By cycling through a variety of crops, the soil gets a break from the nutrient demands of each plant, and pests and weed pressures are deterred. A typical year-to-year rotation might be: red clover - corn/underseeded with annual rye grass - buckwheat - winter wheat/underseeded with clover - clover - spring wheat/underseeded with grass/legume mix.

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