Skip to main content

Sustainable growing at The G Farm

The Winnebago County farm’s holistic approach to farming sets it apart from others

share arrow printer bookmark flag

July 11, 2023

LARSEN – Ever thought about leaving your job and uniting with nature?

After 10-plus years of tax preparation, that’s just what Justin Duell – who is now known as “Farmer Justin” – did.

In 2014, the Army-veteran-turned-tax-preparer-turned-farmer opened The G Farm at 9328 Manu Rd. in Larsen.

Duell said he credits his diverse business background, work ethic and passion for sustainability for the success he’s had thus far on the farm.

“My ability to use the tax code and grow a business was developed while I prepared taxes and worked in my dad’s financial firm,” he said.

Duell said his interest in farming was sparked by his desire to be self-reliant – noting the transition from an office to a farm was a welcomed adjustment.

“I was stuck at a desk job and shackled by good pay and benefits, but was frustrated by not finding fulfillment in the career path I was on,” he said. “When I looked around the home I was building, I had a garden and chickens, so I decided to put into motion a plan to do more of what I enjoyed in my free time, for a living.”

During his years as an accountant, Duell spent time making maple syrup in the woods – a hobby he eventually converted into a full-time business.

And that was just the beginning.

Today, The G Farm is nestled on 27.2 acres, complete with a 3.5-acre pond and is home to cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and fish.

The name – Duell said – is in honor of his birth father, with whom he rekindled a relationship.

“When I registered the LLC, I did so as Gartzke Farms LLC,” he said. “It didn’t take long for me to recognize spelling the name for the purpose of branding was an uphill battle.”

Duell said it was ultimately decided to shorten the moniker, and soon, The G Farm was in the books and the hard work began.
“Much of the work I do is to restore this property to an Oak Savanna Biome (which is a lightly forested grassland where oaks are the dominant trees),” he said.

Duell said he has made it his mission to care for his farm to encourage healthy soil and land. “The animals we raise are the tools we use to improve the soils and produce high-quality food,” he said.

Farming alongside family 
Caring for the farm, Duell said, is a celebrated family affair.

He works alongside his wife Kim and their two young daughters, Ember (3) and Ira (4 months).

The Duell family

“I am the most intertwined of our household, as expected, but we all do play a role,” he said. “Our 3-year-old is becoming more helpful each day – she loves the baby chicks most, but is by our side doing chores with me often.”

Duell said Kim runs and maintains the farm store, helps price products, works in the garden and “keeps us all fed with lots of love.”

Duell said, together, the family cares for the many animals and abundance of land that has allowed The G Farm to thrive.

“We raise beef, pork, chicken, turkey and have a laying flock,” he said. “Our primary focus is producing high-quality meat.” 

One of the farms’ most successful offerings, Duell said, is its Meat CSA subscription.

“This is a farmer’s choice, an eight-pound or 16-pound subscription, we deliver to the doorstep of our members,” he said. “This helps us to keep our inventory circulating and gives our members a great selection of all our products.”

Duell said the most popular raised on the farm is beef – thanks to its versatility.

“We have struggled in the past to keep up with our beef demand, but are in a better place now with some added pastures to graze,” he said. “We also do well with boneless chicken breast, and of course, bacon and our eggs are a consistent seller.”

Duell said there is also an abundance of fresh produce grown at The G Farm.

“We have a large garden and also grow a lot of grass and have planted a ton of fruit and nut bushes and trees as well,” he said. “We sell our product directly to our consumers via an on-site farm store, an online store and by a monthly subscription.”

To date, Duell said he has planted more than 1,000 trees and perennial shrubs to encourage a natural farming system.
In addition to meats, the farm sells fresh garden veggies.

Duell said The G Farm also offers canned goods and other items at its farm store. 

“Some other offerings are our farm events, from Farm to Table dinners, ice fishing, Easter Egg hunts and other private events and tours,” he said. “We also host a campsite.” 

Duell said the cabin on the property, which sleeps six, provides additional income and gives campers the opportunity to fish from the dock, enjoy the views and camp surrounded by cows.

An emphasis on organic 
Duell said he believes his distribution model is unlike most traditional farms.

“We do not need labels to describe that our product is organic or pasture-raised,” he said. “It is apparent when you come to the farm or visit us on social media.”

Products at The G Farm, Duell said, are proudly fresh and free of artificial preservatives and hormones.

“Whether it’s meats or vegetables, you rarely know the true manner in which the food is being made,” he said.

At The G Farm, Duell said, you do.

Beyond the products and fields of grazing animals, Duell said The G Farm’s holistic approach to farming also sets it apart from others.

The G Farm raises Freedom Ranger and Cornish Cross chickens. Submitted Photo

?“I see the farm as whole living organisms and manage all of the animals in a manner that benefits each other,” he said. “Each and every species we have on the farm helps to encourage and interact with the seven others.”

Sustainability is an important aspect of Duells’ business.

“Our most impactful practice is keeping our cattle herd rotating across our pastures,” he said. “Rotating our animals, in general, is a key to sustainability.”

Duell said rotating animals between various pastures has many benefits.

“Moving the chickens after the cattle helps to reduce fly pressure, and moving the broiler chickens and the turkey behind the cattle in areas that need improvement give us a greener pasture in its next regrowth cycle,” he said. 

This system, Duell said, also improves farm efficiency.

“Moving the cattle between the pig pastures utilizes the grass that might not otherwise be eaten by the pigs and helps to keep our production maximized for our small space,” he said.

Duell said the sustainability efforts at The G Farm are important to him.

“I don’t believe big agriculture is doing it right,” he said. “The number of items that have corn or corn derivatives in it through the grocery store vastly reduces the diversity of food we consume and the overly processed majority of most people’s diets.”

Furthermore, Duell said, how animals are raised, can greatly impact their nutritional value.

“I believe in doing things the right and moral way,” he said. “I don’t believe nature is intended to be so rigid – it is chaotic and sporadic and trying to find some middle ground is always a challenge but is a better way to go about food production, in my eyes.”

Supportive growth
Duell said he is committed to raising his animals ethically and offering locally-grown food – ambitious efforts he said he is proud of.

“The consistency I’ve been building, critiquing, improving and always moving forward is something I relish in,” he said. “The design of the farm not only in an ecological sense but in a direct-to-consumer sense also tops the list.”

As a small business owner, Duell said he is no stranger to hard work.

“The sheer number of people who start a farm and continue to produce after a year does not drop significantly, (but) after five years, the number of farmers is much smaller, after 10, it is minuscule,” he said. “Maintaining my own customer base gives me the keys to the car and enables me to direct the business to fit my lifestyle and dreams.”

Since its start, Duell said the farm has grown substantially.

The 27.2-acre G Farm is home to Idaho Pastured Pigs or IPP for short. Submitted Photo

“I can’t say our vision or strategy has changed, but the quantity of animals we carry on the farm has increased,” he said. “Our pastures are more vibrant, the regrowth is faster, our trees are bigger – seeing them start to take off is exciting and gives me a lot of joy as we look toward a shady future.”

Duell said he believes The G Farm provides a beneficial public service.

“We are cleaning the air, the water, sequestering carbon and our management is a net positive for Mother Earth,” he said.
Duell said he also credits consumers for helping the farm to flourish.

“Our customers help reduce the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and the devastation of tiling, mono-cropping and gmo’s at large,” he said. “By supporting our farm, we all help to reduce the dependence on the demand food system our grocery stores and restaurants are entrenched in. Reducing the distance in which your food travels and eating seasonally can go a long way toward healthy eating and knowing your farmer.”

Duell said keeping food dollars local also has a significant environmental and economic impact.

“We can all improve our health when we eat real food,” he said. “Participation is vital in furthering a sustainable vision of food and quality of life for all of the animals, plants and insects in our ecosystem.”

Most importantly, Duell said community support is vital to continual success.

“By supporting us or others like us, you are choosing to recognize the methods of food production matter,” he said. “Not everyone needs to farm, but supporting farmers doing it the right way can mean just as much.”

For more on The G Farm, visit

share arrow printer bookmark flag

Trending View All Trending