Crow’s Nest: Remembering Frank Hartung

October 29, 2016

By Daniel Barringer    Photo by Pete Smyrl


It is with great sadness that we share the news that Frank Hartung—Farmer Frank at Crow’s Nest—has passed away. Frank grew up at Crow’s Nest Farm and farmed here like his father before him. Frank was always willing to chat and was very easygoing, even when faced with fixing a broken pin on a tractor or the transmission on the combine.

Frank was rarely seen without a feed cap on, and usually he was not far from a tractor. (The photo above, taken at our wedding, was an exception.) He farmed at night here while working a day job, and when he retired, he had more time to work the land he knew well and loved.

He was willing to create crop strips and sod waterways to reduce soil erosion, even as that meant farming here involved many difficult contortions with his equipment. He also embraced newer technologies of no-till farming in the name of conservation.

He pulled me out of the mud when I got the mower stuck, more than once (and I know I’m not the only one). You could rely on him for a better weather forecast than any meteorologist with an office could give.

We like to credit for our kids’ programs at the preserve shaping the next generation of conservationists. But really, long before we started our nature clubs and summer camp, Frank was shaping generations of kids with an appreciation for hard work outdoors. Many of the local kids over the years worked for Frank, putting up hay and learning responsibility, and then were treated to a meal at the Ridge. Significantly, many of our neighbors, now grown, still know how to operate Frank’s tractors. People in this neighborhood have a strong sense of looking out for one another (think, for example, of people helping each other after a heavy snowstorm), and I think Frank deserves credit for building a sense of community around the farm.

We miss Frank dearly, and his family remains in our thoughts.