Life is unpredictable. Several decades ago, Lorenz Eppinger lived in Toronto and operated his own recording company, AMOK. It was a successful small record label that produced fifteen albums annually with world-wide distribution.
Lorenz was a one-man operation, who was either on the road chasing new business or organizing music tours. On occasion, he would meet with his buddy Hugo Rampen, a farmer from Fergus, and the pair often spent their time together talking about their lives, family and the challenges of their work. Hugo was intrigued by the music industry and the opportunity Lorenz had connecting with artists. It was an exciting world that couldn’t compare to his days of sitting on a tractor making nice straight rows.
Ironically, the opposite was also true. Lorenz envied Hugo’s lifestyle and days he spent outdoors in the sun with hands in the soil. This work seemed to offer a peacefulness that was missing from Lorenz’s life.
On one afternoon during their visit, Lorenz took fate into his own hands and brazenly offered Hugo a deal that changed the course of both of their lives.
Lorenz recalls that fateful day. “I said to him, Hugo, the agency is yours! I’ll trade you my whole business for your manure spreader. You can have everything. Bring your pick-up over and I’ll empty my office onto your truck. And Hugo accepted!”
Reflecting back on the decisive transaction, Lorenz says, “The music industry is a sexy business to be in when you’re in your twenties, but I was tired of it. I needed a change and although I had never even been on a tractor until Hugo took me to a tractor dealer, I was drawn to farming. I know it’s cliché, but I think of nature and growing things as magical.”
Lorenz now has over fifteen years under his belt as a full-time farmer and he also works as an organic inspector visiting other farms. His Campbellville farm situated in Ontario’s scenic Greenbelt area, is a twenty-acre operation that grows for the wholesale organic market.
As he did not grow up on a farm, his induction into agriculture was unlike that of most farmers who have the advantage of knowledge and experience that is passed on from previous generations.
But consider this first generation farmer’s accomplishments. He mastered the art of soil management—the planting, fertilizing, growing and harvesting of crops in a sustainable manner, raising livestock, and understanding weather patterns and the use of farm machinery.
Most of us give little thought as to why farmers farm. Or why someone like Lorenz who was not born into the profession would intentionally choose it.
But he will tell you that the arts and farming have a parallel. “I feel that my fields are little pieces of art. You should see the spring greens and baby lettuce when they are lined up in rows. They are beautiful.”
We buy our food without giving much consideration to the complex system of producers, intermediaries and sellers. And it is a curious observation that very few urban parents, if any, encourage their children to pursue the profession of farming.
Farmers like Lorenz are interested in producing quality not quantity. “Here on the farm, all of our energy goes into growing good food. The way we farm offers huge advantages for the environment and a way of growing that doesn’t deplete the land.”
Anyone who has spent time on a farm among planted fields knows there is an awakening, a transformation that happens in the stillness of a peaceful rural setting where things grow. As Lorenz says, there is balance.
And if you ask him to share one little gem, one life lesson that he has learned from his journey into farming, it’s this. “Never lose your passion for life. If you are passionate about something, you are likely to succeed.” And Lorenz should know. He sold his business for a manure spreader.