The Farm Crew, Part I: Jane

Throughout the season, you’ll hear about what the Food Farm crew has been busy doing. Most of you probably know Janaki and Annie, the farm’s owners, and their family, but we thought we’d also introduce you to the rest of the crew, before you start enjoying the fruits of their labors.

First up is Jane Marynik, who not only helps keep the farm running smoothly as our crew leader, but also has her own business and is mom to four kids!

How did you make your way to the Food Farm, and how long have you worked here?

This is my fifth season at Food Farm. I worked at UMD’s Land Lab for two seasons, but after I graduated from UMD, I couldn’t work there anymore. I was just looking to get more experience farming. I remember that when I interviewed with Janaki and Karin [White, Food Farm’s former crew leader] for the Food Farm job, my sister had just gotten married and she had made us get our nails done, so I was trying to hide my nails because I didn’t want them to think I was some prissy girl!

What’s your first memory of working at Food Farm?

My first day was seeding the fifth planting of Brassicas, which is an enormous planting. I spent the whole day looking down, and I wasn’t used to that, so my neck really hurt afterward. Everyone was pretty happy that I even came back after that experience.

What is your current role at the farm?

My role is crew wrangler, or crew leader. I get the list of tasks that need to be done from Janaki and plan out who’s going to do what, and I try to keep things organized and smoothly flowing. I take care of our people; if someone is having a physical issue, I try to give them tasks that work for them. I also try to make sure everyone is getting a good variety of tasks so they can learn more about what we’re doing.

Do you have a favorite farm task or activity?

I like being outside in general, and I like helping to grow food for people and helping take good care of the soil. It’s a meaningful job. For specific tasks I like weeding carrots and picking peas. Peas because we get to taste a few as we pick! Weeding I like because I don’t have to think about it too much; you can have good conversations with the other workers while you work.

What would you say is your farming superpower?

I’m good at harvesting broccoli. Normally I’m picking broccoli at least a couple of times a week. The last couple of years we’ve sometimes been harvesting from three different plantings at once, because they all matured at once, so for a while it felt like all I was doing at the farm was just picking broccoli.

The challenge with broccoli is deciding which heads to cut, and which ones will hold in the field until the next harvest. It depends on the weather, the heat, the moisture level, the varieties, etc., so you have to get a feel for it. We’re also watching out for disease–if I notice there’s disease starting in a certain area, I cut those heads right away before it spreads to another area. I’m also trying to judge how much broccoli is out there; if the heads are bigger, they fill up the containers faster, so I’m trying to figure that into the mix.

Are there any aspects of farm work that you think would be surprising/unexpected for our customers to learn? 

It’s surprising how many flat tires you get on a farm! And, sometimes what the plants look like while they’re growing in the field is surprising to people. People walking by my garden in Superior one time saw the garlic growing and thought it was corn.

I also think people would be surprised by how early plants go in–how early we start onions (early March); how early we start transplanting in the field (April or May); some of the hardy crops can go out well before the frost date. Also people don’t realize how long you can keep things in the ground, and how long we keep harvesting in the fall.

What do you like to do when you’re not at the farm?

I have my own business called Four Beans Farm; I’ve been doing that for three seasons; this will be my fourth. I grow dry beans, and small scale vegetables. I don’t do a lot of spring stuff, because I don’t have the greenhouse capacity, but I can’t wait to grow more things. I grow some of my crops here at Food Farm and I grow stuff in my gardens at home, and the soil’s different; the temperature’s different; it’s like two different worlds.

I also like to run, which isn’t very compatible with farming [because of the physical demands of vegetable farming], but I enjoy it. My family likes to go canoeing.

What’s your current favorite vegetable, or what veggie do you get most excited about eating?

I’m excited for the first greens of the season, and the first carrots–even though they’re not as good as the fall carrots, there’s just something about them. And snap peas; I eat just snap peas for lunch sometimes!

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