Out in the Field with Our Two Favorite Farmers
Meet Vera Fabian and Gordon Jenkins—they're organic vegetable farmers and our newest contributors.
This morning, I hauled hundreds of pounds of stinking, rotten sweet potatoes to the compost and dug weevil-eaten carrots from hard clay. It was an awful morning. And really, a typical one on the farm. But this afternoon, I sowed thousands of seeds and took aromatic deep breaths as I topped our basil plants. It was beautiful. That's farming, at least for us.
I'm Vera, an organic vegetable farmer. Together with my husband Gordon, I farm Ten Mothers Farm, a tiny little farm outside of Hillsborough, North Carolina. We grow lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, and about 45 other crops for 70 CSA families, as well as a few special things for restaurants. It's just the two of us on the farm, and we do everything by hand, without a tractor. That sounds crazy, and it is, but we like hand work, and-more importantly-keeping the farm small allows us to focus on growing really great vegetables.
How did we become farmers? We're not totally sure. Neither of us grew up on farms. We both went to college with grand ambitions to change the world, and we both ended up getting into cooking instead. When we met in 2007, on a beautiful summer day, under a mulberry tree in the school garden where I was teaching, our first conversation was about wanting to farm.
Now, 11 years later, and three years into running our own farm, we still can't believe how lucky we are that we get to do this together. That said, we still aren't quite making a living. We're still hoping (somewhat desperately) to buy our own land. And we still feel like total rookies.
Our city friends think farming is terribly romantic, and it is, but it's also heartbreaking. The farm takes everything you give it and always wants more. The work is monotonous and the conditions uncomfortable pretty much all the time. But it is also hugely creative and satisfying work. We spend our days in a garden surrounded by birdsong. We grow a ton of vegetables for people in our community who respect the work we do. We have plenty of delicious food to feed ourselves and our friends. We learn so much every day. Is farming the adventure we'd hoped for? Yes. Also no. It's harder than either of us could've imagined, but it's also full of so much wonder and beauty.
Follow Vera and Gordon's growing season-they'll be sharing their stories with us every Thursday here on marthastewart.com.