Meet the Farmers
Meet the Farmers
I grew up in Scituate, MA, eating Twinkies and hot dogs when my mom wasn't looking, but it the back of my young mind I knew that people including myself need a stronger connection to where their food comes from.
When I was in third grade, my parents brought me to Sturbridge Village (maybe you've been there - it’s one of those places that people are living the way rural New Englanders did in the early 1800's). I met a woman who was tending her garden and I was hooked. When we got home, I made my mom bring me to the hardware store and we got some carrot seed. It was probably September but I planted them anyway…what did I know? I was in third grade. So I experienced my first crop failure at the ripe young age of 8. I didn't let it get me down.
Throughout high school, I was always into growing things so much so that I ended up majoring in Plant and Soil Science at UMass Amherst, never really thinking that I would become a farmer. Before I graduated, I started working at the Food Bank Farm in Hadley, where I met Michael Docter, Meghan, and a slew of other soon to be very important and influential people in my life. The farm became my inspiration and education. I learned volumes about growing vegetables, operating and fixing tractors, and what it meant to eat good food. I worked there for 3 years with a one year hiatus as a grower/instructor at Maggie’s Farm (The Farm School) in Athol, MA.
After The Food Bank I worked for a friend and former Food Banker, Ben Perrault, in the inaugural year of Mountain View Farm in Easthampton/Hadley, MA, before starting at Riverland in 2007.
My interest in farming began after taking a class at UMass called Nutritional Anthropology. We were given a project that led me to volunteering at The Food Bank Farm in Hadley, MA. My first task was to pull massive fall storage beets out of the ground. I fell in love with the sights, sounds and smells of farming almost instantly. I met an amazing community of people working there.
The following season, I became an apprentice at The Food Bank Farm and began to condition my body and mind to a life of farming. I learned so much in that first season about plant identification: the ones you pull out of the ground as weeds; and the others that you let stay and to grow and harvest from. I witnessed the cycle of a season where the soil comes to life, flourishes, and then goes dormant for the winter.
Since I was sure that farming was the life I wanted to pursue, after that first season, I decided that I should get a little wanderlust out of my system before I put my own roots down. I saved some money and bought a ticket to Italy for 8 months. I found a few farms to work on through a program called WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms). This is a great way to travel and see the food culture anywhere. I fell in love with the landscape, the people, the language, and of course the food.
Upon my return to the U.S. I found myself back at the Food Bank Farm for another season. This is where I met Rob. We worked together up at the Farm School in Athol the following season, and I stayed for another season after that. In 2006 I came to work with Scott and Ferdene at Riverland, where I met the community that supports the farm and our neighbors.