My name is Max Becher; my wife and I grew up in Southern California, where we met, married at age 23/24, had 2 children, and farmed for 4 years on 2 leased parcels of land 5-15 minutes away from our home. My parents are not farmers, and I did not study agriculture in college. A life-long dream to farm was cemented in my heart when I first befriended my wife as a fellow homeschooled highschooler, who shared my vision for a family farm. We both have degrees in Theology. While studying, I took interest in principles of agriculture scattered throughout various Catholic social writings.
This led to my Masters thesis "Agriculture in Catholic Social Teaching." My goal was to compile a concise summary of Catholic Agriculture by boiling it down to several basic principles. I was unaware of any such clear synthesis of Catholic agricultural principles at the time. I was a devoted Church-going Catholic, and I also wanted to farm. It was intensely interesting to discover what farming looked like when based on Catholic principles.
We began farming in 2014, and my enthusiasm and zeal for the agrarian life has grown since then. In 2018, in reaction to California's real estate prices and dense urban landscape, we closed down the farms, ended the leases, sold most of our equipment, and moved to rural Maine. We were farming commercially in California, but could not live on our rented farms, and thought that the family culture of life on the farm was more attainable outside California. We kept an ownership percentage and remote management role in a farm-to-door delivery business that, together with part time work at a Catholic parish, provided a meager salary in our new home state.
In 2021 I left employment with our parish to pursue our business full time. Rather than jumping back into commercial farming, we have grown food only for our own consumption for the past 3 seasons. Both are legitimate ways to farm the land -- you do not need to sell crops in order to improve a piece of ground, grow a lot of food, and raise your family in "the natural habitat of the family" (Fr. Edwin V. O'Hara).
I served on the board of directors for "Catholic Rural Life" from 2018 to 2021, which is the organization founded in 1923 formerly called the "National Catholic Rural Life Conference." I stepped down from the organziation to devote more time to my ministry here at Catholic Agrarian, and to develop our own family homestead.