It’s been a whirlwind year for Josh Piel and his wife, Sarah: They got engaged, then married—then they bought a farm and went straight to work. “We basically did all the things you aren’t supposed to do in the first year of marriage in the first 6 months,” Josh Piel says.
Piel has been farming his entire life and graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in animal science. When Josh and Sarah started talking about getting married, they also began talking with Sarah’s parents about finding their own farm operation. “It was by happenstance that we came across the farm,” he says. Willow Branch Farm, named after one of the creeks that borders the farm, is located in Brooksville, KY, and spans 189 acres.
With weekend help from their in-laws, Mike and Maryann Hegner, Josh and Sarah farm a variety of produce, from cabbage and broccoli to watermelon and cantaloupe. “Produce has been a little bit of a mess this season because of the weather—some of our crops were flooded,” Piel says. The weather wasn’t the only thing that set the farm back this season. “We lost our entire laying crop of chickens, about 60, to a stray dog,” Piel says. However, now the farm has about 75 chickens, along with cattle, horses, and donkeys.
All of these setbacks haven’t stopped Willow Branch Farm’s first-year proprietors from working hard to grow their business. Willow Branch Farm joined the Sunday lineup at Findlay Market beginning in June. Piel says, “The weather put a damper on our crop, but we are excited to be at Findlay Market, and excited for
— Laura Frey
Julie publishes Edible Ohio Valley with her family. After 15 years in the world of commercial photography, her lens is now focused on recording the sustainability movement in the Midwest. A graduate of UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, she’s a partner and co-founder of The Fairview Agency, a multidisciplinary creative firm.