Henning Sehmsdorf had a lifelong dream to be a farmer. Growing up in economically distressed post-war Germany in a large family, he and his siblings survived by growing food in a sizable home garden and by gleaning surrounding fields in exchange for food. Later in high school, he participated in “harvesting vacations,” where groups of schoolchildren worked the fields and the farmer delivered produce to the school cafeteria in return. As a young man he moved to the U.S., first earning a PhD and teaching at the University of Washington before a trip to Lopez Island brought him back to his dream of farming at S & S Homestead Farm.
Starting with 10 acres in 1970, Henning began to build the infrastructure of the farm while he continued to work at UW. He became a full-time farmer in 1994. He joined Washington State University as an adjunct professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1999. He serves on numerous boards and committees related to sustainable agriculture, farming, land stewardship, and education. Henning chairs the Future Farm Council, which meets monthly to review projects, work plans, and budgets to transition the farm to community ownership. Henning wasn a Mentor Farmer in the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program.