Local Hero Profile: Sweet Morning Farm
By Aja Lippincott, Program Associate
Published in CISA’s November Enews – Sign Up Here!
Laura Timmerman has enjoyed gardening as a hobby her whole life, satisfied by growing most of the food her family ate and giving any extra away. Laura’s son Robin would help out, and even during college he would come home on weekends to work in the garden. It wasn’t until recent years that they toyed with the idea of making money at it, and they started experimentally selling their produce in 2008. With the help of a few neighbors and friends who joined as the earliest members, a small CSA operation was born on Sweet Morning Farm in Leyden. Robin now lives on the property and helps run the CSA, which offers a variety of fruit, vegetables, and flowers. The farm sells eggs year round, and chicken and duck are available by pre-order.
New members join mostly through word of mouth, and Laura and Robin love meeting new people. “Our members are great because they are so open to trying new things. It’s fun to introduce people to new foods,” says Laura. They get a kick out of putting surprises in the CSA shares, and they provide members with information and recipes through a weekly newsletter and their blog. One aspect of the CSA that Robin and Laura really enjoy is getting to swap recipes with other farm members.
While both Robin and Laura work closely together, they each have their focus. Laura manages the mesclun, flowers, and seedlings while Robin takes the lead on garlic and onions. Robin admits to being “addicted” to planting and caring for fruit trees, including apples, peaches, pears, plums, cherries, almonds, and hazelnuts. He has also been dabbling in growing mushrooms and has a small log grown shiitake operation up in the woods.
Once the hobby became a job, Laura continued to ask herself whether or not she was still having fun. “As it turns out, it’s even more fun! I love the cycles of the season and how plants change over time. I love sharing that experience and knowledge with other people.” Robin and Laura are very proud of everything they produce, but when asked what really takes the prize on the farm Robin responded with confidence: “I think our mesclun is really top notch. Our birds lay pretty good eggs too.”
The struggle comes in finding enough time to dedicate to the actual farming. Both Robin and Laura have part-time jobs and only have a couple days a week to devote to the farm. Making the shift towards full-time farming remains a dream. But Sweet Morning Farm will be undergoing big, exciting changes in the coming years. With the help of a grant they are in the process of putting up a new hoop house to increase production through the winter. They are also clearing a large piece of land where they can plant more crops and gain a little flexibility for crop rotation and weed control. They intend to increase their shares from 19 this past year to about 25 next year. The process of scaling up has been gradual so it hasn’t felt like an unmanageable leap.
When it comes to maintaining good relationship with neighboring farms, everyone seems to be on board with the concept of community. Other farmers are friendly and everyone is helpful in sharing tools and answering questions. Robin and Laura understand the importance of cooperation and participation in the local food movement. They feel that everyone needs to be involved to change the way things are done. “Growing our own food all feels so completely normal to me,” says Laura. Robin chimes in, “It’s important economically. Small farms help a lot of people and enhance our community in so many ways.”
Get involved in your community and stop by the Greenfield Winter Farmers’ Market and visit Sweet Morning Farm to find leeks, onions, garlic, spinach, mesclun, daikon, fennel, Brussels sprouts, and microgreens. And it’s never too early to sign up for a farm share for 2016!