Remembering Farmer Dustin Rathgeber

      Posted On: March 7, 2019

Over the years, we here at FMC have had the great privilege of collaborating, supporting, and working shoulder to shoulder with market leaders and producers from across the country — the many inspiring individuals dedicated to improving our nation’s local food systems. One of those exceptional people was farmer Dustin Rathgeber.

While working on a series of profiles to highlight the stories of local farmers, we were lucky enough to be introduced to Dustin, a young Indiana farmer with a reputation for his growing impact on local agriculture.

During our interview, Dustin shared with us the impetus behind his passion for farming — how family and community were at the heart of the decision to return to his agrarian roots, and how turning eight acres of conventional farmland into one of Indiana’s USDA certified organic farms within only one year was one of the most monumental challenges and accomplishments of his life.

He also shared his inherent appreciation for farmers markets as the “backbone of everything,” something he worked for and believed in. His poignant quote “If I didn’t have a farmers market, I wouldn’t have a farm” has deeply resonated with so many within the market community, and has become a succinct rallying call for local food advocates to work harder and smarter to ensure markets, and the farmers they support, continue to thrive.

It was with heavy hearts that we learned the tragic news of Dustin’s untimely passing last month, after an accident on his farm. But Dustin’s powerful words, and invaluable contribution to agriculture and community, have left a lasting impact.

In a beautiful tribute written by Dustin’s friend and business partner Mallory Rickbeil, she remembers Dustin as an amazing storyteller with a generous heart, and “naturally open, inquisitive, and engaged with what was going on around him.”

We too will remember Dustin as a determined farmer, leader, and inspiration. May the glow of his memory light the way for our work.

[Obituary] |  [Mallory Rickbeil’s Tribute] | [Dustin’s 2017 Interview with FMC]