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Pennsylvania farmer finds diversification key to growth

Young Farmer Podcast: Bryan Harnish discusses his first year growing hemp and wrestling's impact on his farming.

Chris Torres, Editor, American Agriculturist

April 3, 2020

1 Min Read
Bryan Harnish points toward hemp on his diversified farm operation in Pequea, Pa.
DIVERSIFYING WITH HEMP: Last season, Bryan Harnish added hemp to his already diversified farm operation in Pequea, Pa. Results were mixed, and Harnish has more questions than answers over whether hemp will be a viable crop. Photos by Chris Torres

Bryan Harnish didn’t know what he wanted to do when he graduated from Penn State in 2009. Having grown up on a farm he knew he wanted to do something in agriculture, he just didn’t know what.

When his father bought a 160-acre farm, he found his way back into the business by leasing the land from his father and growing crops.

Since then, he’s grown his operation to over 600 acres of field crops, watermelons, tobacco and, starting last year, CBD hemp.

It’s a lot of work running a diversified farm, but it’s given Harnish the chance to build some equity and start the formal farm transition process.

Last year I followed Harnish in his quest to grow a successful CBD crop. Throughout the year, Harnish provided updates on what he planned to do this season as well as the challenges of including hemp in an already diverse farm.

Bryan Harnish and his brother, Chris, operate a diversified farm operation in Pequea, Pa.
BROTHERS AND PARTNERS: Harnish partners with his brother, Chris, on running the operation. Harnish prefers to be his own boss, though, and is now including his own children in helping out on the farm.

And if you like wrestling — the kind practiced in school, not the stuff broadcast Friday nights on Fox — then you’ll be happy to know that Harnish wrestled in high school and credits that competition to making him a better farmer.

Related:A chat with Southern Maryland’s strongest 'agvocate'

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About the Author(s)

Chris Torres

Editor, American Agriculturist

Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.

Torres says he wants American Agriculturist to be farmers' "go-to product, continuing the legacy and high standard (former American Agriculturist editor) John Vogel has set." Torres succeeds Vogel, who retired after 47 years with Farm Progress and its related publications.

"The news business is a challenging job," Torres says. "It makes you think outside your small box, and you have to formulate what the reader wants to see from the overall product. It's rewarding to see a nice product in the end."

Torres' family is based in Lebanon County, Pa. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, Pa., where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.

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