Local Hero Profile: Sweet Morning Farm, LLC
Local Hero Profile by Sarah Lucia, CISA TerraCorp Service Member
Published in CISA’s June 2021 enewsletter
“Local food is fantastic; the more local people can shop, the more small farms like ours can be supported and boost the local economy,” says Robin Creamer of Sweet Morning Farm, LLC. He believes that, “generally speaking, small farms are better protectors of the land, and environment,” and gives a glimpse into the mission and operation of Sweet Morning Farm, as well as some of the joys and challenges of farming. Laura Timmerman, Creamer’s mother, started Sweet Morning Farm about 10 years ago. Creamer dabbled in farming on the weekends, helping his mom, but the work of farming grew on him, and they moved the farm to full-time in 2017 and 2018. Sweet Morning Farm started as a very small CSA with vegetables and chickens, and Creamers’ interests in raising livestock, especially pigs and cows, led to an expansion of their farm. He has also been gradually expanding the variety of vegetables they are growing.
Part of the appeal of farming, Creamer explains, is figuring out how to do more with what they have, and the constant learning process that farming involves. Their wide variety of vegetables is grown on one acre of land and is influenced by what they personally like to eat, as well as what their customers enjoy. Their signature salad mix is popular, as the variety of greens changes seasonally and the mix often includes small edible flowers and flavorful herbs that make salads special. As for their livestock, Robin enjoys working with the animals they raise, and says that “people seem to appreciate the quality of our meats and come back for them.” They raise both pork and beef on the farm and continue to offer eggs as well.
Sweet Morning Farm’s products can be found at the Easthampton Farmers’ Market and the Tuesday Market in Northampton. The Easthampton Farmers’ Market is their home market, even though the farm is in Leyden. It’s a “great market with great people,” says Creamer, of the Easthampton Farmers’ Market. The Tuesday Market is a new market for the farm this year as they continue to grow and try new things. The farm stand in Leyden is well-stocked with fresh vegetables, meats, and eggs. Creamer said the farm is in the process of building a new farm stand that will enable them to sell produce from their farm in a bigger and better way. The 2021 season is the first season they are not offering a CSA, choosing instead to focus their energy on farmers’ markets and in expanding the farm stand. In the winter months, Sweet Morning Farm can also be found at winter farmers’ markets, such as the Easthampton, Northampton, and Greenfield winter farmers’ markets, with their salad mix, spinach, meats, and eggs bringing welcome freshness into the cold months.
Their customers at the markets are mainly local valley residents, and some do come up to the farm stand to visit and get fresh produce. Their farm stand is frequented by loyal locals from Leyden, Greenfield, and the surrounding area. SNAP customers can use both SNAP and HIP at the farm stand and at Sweet Morning Farm’s booth at the farmers’ markets. For those unfamiliar with HIP, the Healthy Incentives Program functions as extra SNAP money for fresh, local fruits and vegetables. HIP benefits give all SNAP recipients in Massachusetts an automatic rebate on fresh produce purchased from participating locations (to learn more about HIP, visit mass.gov/hip). Creamer is “really appreciate of [SNAP and HIP]” as it’s “good for everybody.” “It gets pretty busy at markets in particular; there’s always a steady customer base and repeat customers who use those programs,” he says of SNAP and HIP. Using benefits at the farmers’ market and farm stand to buy fresh vegetables from farms like Sweet Morning Farm gives community members access to fresh, local food and helps to make these markets more welcoming to everyone in the community.
For Creamer, getting to be outside working with the plants and animals in nature is the greatest reward of farming. He says that “it’s hard to do the indoor work like paperwork when the outdoor work is more fun and a pull,” which is one of the reasons he got into farming in the first place. He is passionate about working with nature rather than against nature and speaks highly of sustainable farming practices such as no-till farming and soil health. He implements organic practices, and mulches and composts heavily. The vegetables and livestock work together as the compost from the livestock allows the plants to produce an abundance of vegetables. “It’s magical how well it works,” says Creamer; “I just love how magical it is, what plants can do; we only do so much, really we’re a small part, and what they do, they’re incredible and produce huge quantities, and it’s such a great feeling to harvest and share crops with the community.” Promoting health of the soil through no-till, organic methods leads to healthy crops, which can feed a healthy community. Creamer is able to raise a wide variety of crops on an acre of land, and practice rotational grazing with their animals to maximize soil health and plant recovery time before they are grazed again. The beef is grass-fed, and all pigs are born and raised on the farm.
At Sweet Morning Farm, that truly is the heart of their farming philosophy: connecting with the earth, and with animals, and trying to understand them as best as possible in order to care for them, In turn, the animals and plants care for the farmers and their community. Sweet Morning Farm has an exciting future ahead as they plan to expand and try new things over the next few years. Robin’s wife is getting more involved and allowing the farm to go in some new directions, like growing medicinal herbs. They’re excited to keep moving forward and growing good food. To learn more about Sweet Morning Farm, LLC, visit them at one of their local markets, or visit https://www.facebook.com/SweetMorningFarm for their most recent updates.