Jennifer had been working at Food Farm for just three weeks when I conducted this interview, but she had already proved herself to be a valuable member of our team. She’s enthusiastic about learning each task and quick to master new skills.
How did you make your way to the Food Farm, and what’s your first memory of working here?
Before this, I was working in corporate America, which was not very interesting to me, and I was tired of waking up to do something that I wasn’t excited about. So, I figured if I could get paid to do something I loved, that would be ideal. And I love food, so working on a farm made sense.
On my first day here, Dave [Hanlon] walked me around to all the greenhouses and showed me everything that was going on, and it was such an exciting moment because I was already learning so much from him. He really took the time to explain things to me, and I appreciated it.
In your short time here, what has been your favorite farm task or activity?
Transplanting onions was one of my favorite things. It was smelly, but it was really cool to be planting something by hand and still using machinery; it was exciting to see how those two things can come together. The transplanter has two seats on it, and there’s shelves above each seat that hold the trays of plants, and there’s a set of wheels that make holes in the soil for the plants and fill them with water. The reason it’s smelly is because there’s fish emulsion added to the water tank, which helps get the plants off to a good start. And, it only takes three days after transplanting for your hands to stop smelling like fish!
What do you think is going to be your farming superpower?
I love to learn about anything and everything, so it’s really hard for me to say no when asked to do something new or different. I think that could be a superpower, but it might also get me into trouble — sometimes in other jobs I ended up doing extra work!
Are there any aspects of farm work that you think would be surprising for our customers to learn?
It’s surprising how much time and effort goes into growing each individual crop. I think a lot of people think you plant this seed in this field and you’re done. There’s so much pre-planning: which field will each crop go in, how will it be fertilized — Dave was explaining that they consider which nutrients are being taken out by each plant, and how do we counteract that. It takes a lot of time before the seed even hits the soil.
What do you like to do when you’re not at the farm?
I like to knit, and I really enjoy being outside, either by myself or with my husband and our dogs. We like hiking and biking. I enjoy gardening at home, too. I feel like my favorite things to grow are probably tomatoes, and the most exciting things to grow are tomatillos and peppers. Tomatoes are safe and you kind of know what to expect from them, but the others are more unpredictable.
What’s your favorite thing to cook?
One thing I’ve been trying to do is to find new and creative ways to reduce food waste. For example, I save my carrot peels to put into soup stock. When the stock is done, I dry the carrot peels and grind them up to add to smoothies. I really like to use all the parts of the plant. Another example is using the leaves of the broccoli plant instead of kale in salads and sandwiches. We use broccoli stems in place of water chestnuts sometimes in stir fries. It’s all edible!