At the 7 Oaks Farm in Southern Oregon, about a half hour drive south of Grants Pass, Doreen Bradshaw watches as her family farm changes. Her kids — and now her grandkids — are battling with the decision: do we farm, or do we not? This is in some ways an age-old question as children who have grown up on the farm decide whether to stay in the business or move on to other pastures. Farmers all over the country are getting older, with the average age in the mid-50’s. In Oregon, as many as half of all farmers and ranchers may retire in the next ten years.
Doreen Bradshaw has four kids. One daughter is a teacher and another owns a golf shop. Her son works for Hewlett-Packard. And her fourth daughter stayed on the farm and manages it with her husband. According to Doreen, the farm can really only support two families anyway, so everything has probably worked out just right. But why did the children who moved on decide to? And how does the daughter who decided to stay feel about her decision?
Doreen Bradshaw is kindly hosting us at her farm for the next in our special broadcast on the rural economy, but we’d like to hear from you too. What’s your experience with farming? When did you decide to take it on, or leave it behind?
Note: This show is part of our Rural Economy Project.