Harvest Dinner Spotlight: Young Farmers Say Follow Your Farming Dream

September 3, 2019 |

Above: John Dindia and Bailey Samp, owners, Lakeview Hill Farm. Photo by Karl Goodsell.

Don’t miss the 2019 Harvest at the Commons dinner! Support Groundwork while celebrating our acclaimed local food world and the people who make it happen. Here we shine the spotlight on farmers John Dindia and Bailey Samp, of Lakeview Hill Farm, Leelanau County, one of the providers of local food for the event.

When Groundwork (Michigan Land Use Institute at the time) helped put northern Michigan’s local food movement in motion 18 years ago with its publication The New Entrepreneurial Agriculture: A Key Piece of the Farmland Protection Puzzle, and Taste the Local Difference local food marketing agency, nobody knew about the farming future of Bailey Samp and John Dindia; neither was part of a farm family, and besides, they were just 10 years old at the time.

But Bailey and John are precisely the people envisioned when Groundwork staked out the premise that a local food economy was not only possible, but also essential for our well-being, our farm family budgets and the landscape we cherish.

John grew up in Wisconsin, and both of his parents were college professors. The closest thing to a farm they had was a garden in the backyard. But as it turned out, that was enough to spur his farmer curiosity. “In high school, I developed an interest in plant science and built a little greenhouse,” John says. Upon graduation, he headed off to Michigan State University, studied sustainable and organic horticulture, and worked on the student-run organic farm. “That’s where I really got interested in farming,” he says. “I loved it.”

John met Bailey while they were both traveling in Ecuador and Peru. “We met down there and came back dating,” Bailey says. “Yes it was romantic, but it was also hard traveling—hiking the mountains, backpacking, staying in hostels,” she says. A good test of resilience that would come in handy later.