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Shared Legacy Farms: Our Story

Shared Legacy Farms is a small, 20 acre vegetable farm located in Elmore, Ohio. Owners Kurt and Corinna Bench started the farm in 2008 with the premise that “every vegetable tells a story.” With the advent of Big Agriculture and the growing dependence on processed food, many Americans have lost touch with the local farmer. Shared Legacy Farm’s vision is to help people rediscover this lost story and reconnect people to a real working family farm.  Kurt and Corinna are passionate about tending the soil, educating consumers about the world of agriculture, and reviving a spirit of community through their farm. They have two young sons, Jed (age 8) and Josiah (age 5), who love to farm and play tractors, and are an integral part of the farm operation.

Hey there. My name’s Farmer Kurt, and I’m an Ohio-bred (Go Buckeyes!), tractor-fooling, vegetable-loving country boy. I’m married to a gorgeous wife Corinna (who runs the administrative side of the farm), and I’ve got two red-headed boys who love to build Legos, dig up their garden, and now have more toy tractors than I do.

A few fun facts about me.

  • I live to work. (Must be the farmer work ethic I got from my parents).
  • I can remember anything if I sing it to myself.
  • I love WWII history.
  • I'm a God--fearing man.
  • Sometimes I stutter when my mind is racing.
  • I'm a horrible speller.
  • I can’t control myself if there’s ice cream in the house.
  • I love watching Dukes of Hazzard re-runs. I even call my youngest boy “Beau.”

My Journey: From Hobby to Full-Time Farmer

I started our 20-acre CSA farm in 2008 after returning home to Ohio from Chicago – newly married with a baby on the way.

Yeah, that was pretty gutsy, looking back.

But I couldn’t help it. I’ve got farming in my blood -- going back 3 generations in fact.

In the early days, I supported my family and paid the bills by working a full-time job for the local grain elevator in Toledo. But because I just had to get my hands in the soil, I also decided to start a little CSA farm as a hobby on the side. We began with 12 customers.

It was back-breaking work. And looking back, I’m not sure how I did it.

There were many nights I’d come back home at 7 pm, grab a quick bite to eat, kiss my wife, tuck my boy into bed, and head out to the fields to farm in the dark, with nothing to light my way but a Petzl headlamp.

Slowly over the course of 4 seasons, we continued to hone our craft. I made some mistakes, but I learned from them. We doubled in size every year, funneling our farm income right back into the business, slowly building up the infrastructure that has made us strong today.

The Moment of Truth (Every Business Has One)

One day I came home and told my beautiful bride, Corinna, “I can’t do both jobs anymore. It’s time to make the jump.”

“But that means we have to sell 200 more shares!” replied my wife. “How will we ever do that?”

The rest is history. In an extraordinary leap of faith, I left my job at the grain elevator in 2011, and became a full-time CSA farmer. (We found our extra 200 customers 4 days before the season began).

A Calling

That is the backstory powering this farm. It is built on a legacy of discipline, perseverance, and sheer hard work. It is built on the idea that anything is possible. And I lean into this story every day.

I see farming as more than just a job. It’s my calling.

And because I worked so hard to get here, the work I do is that much more sweet.

I love the CSA way. I love being able to grow all kinds of vegetables. I love partnering with Mother Nature, caring for the soil, diagnosing and solving problems, and bringing things to life.

I love knowing my customers – each and every one. Being able to picture the people who will taste the fruit of my labor – people like Merissa Rojas, Dave Hockin, Linda Fotoples – it’s incredibly motivating and makes this work extremely personal.

I love caring for the soil, and stewarding this most precious resource has become one of my greatest responsibilities. There is so much I could say on this, but let’s just leave it at “There’s a reason we became USDA certified organic in 2016.”

And I’ll admit I love eating my own food. There’s something about a carrot grown in nutrient-rich soil that makes it taste out of this world. It’s a simple pleasure in life that no one should miss.

Where We’re Heading Now

In 2016, my wife initiated an enormous research project, interviewing customers to find out the habits of successful CSA members. Out of this data, we’ve identified the roadblocks and the shortcuts to CSA progress, and have developed a roadmap for our future members to follow to help them successfully eat more vegetables.

We’ll be rolling out this incredible content to our CSA members this season.

This increased focus on educating our customers in how to eat is already proving to be a game-changer for those who follow our farm. You can find these resources on our YouTube channel and our Facebook page.

Shared Legacy Farms is now so much more than a farm that grows vegetables.

It’s a place where like-minded food-lovers are connecting to learn from each other and support each other in their quest to love food.

It’s a network that’s coaching its tribe to confidence in the kitchen.

It’s an experience that’s empowering families to learn how to cook and eat better.

We’re changing the way people eat.

I hope you’ll invite us to your table and let us influence your world.

Farmer Kurt