The Farm Crew, Part II: Charlie Kratz

I’m not sure if Charlie’s positive energy helps the plants at Food Farm, but the crew definitely benefits from his good nature! I think it’s safe to say we’re all happy he’s back for a second season.

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

I’ve worked here a little over a year; I came to it through food. I was working as a cook and for a short time at Third Street Bakery. When Covid happened, I wanted to keep working with food but not work in a restaurant anymore. Working at Food Farm seemed like a good way to explore my love for food, but in a different way than cooking it.

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

My first week of work, we did a lot of bin washing, which is washing and sanitizing all the CSA boxes and the plastic containers that we use for some of our wholesale customers. I also helped install the sink and the kitchen countertops in the new shop [where the crew has lunch and farm events take place]. I remember Dave [Hanlon] saying, “Now you’re farming,” and I learned that there’s a lot of work that’s not necessarily dealing with plants that goes into farming. I did get to do some seeding of something in the greenhouse that week, too, which was more like what I thought I’d be doing here.

Do you have a favorite farm task or activity?

I like the chicken chores a lot; I like to hang out with them. I feed and water the laying hens and keep their grit and calcium full. I collect the eggs and John [Fisher-Merritt] cleans them. The chickens are like little dinosaurs, in a way; I think they’re trippy! I do like the construction-y stuff that I do here, too. I have some background in it, and it’s nice to work with Janaki on stuff like that; he’s a good teacher.

What would you say is your farming superpower? 

Giving the plants good vibes; I like to say nice things to them and wish them well. I don’t know for sure that it helps, but it definitely can’t hurt.

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

Like I mentioned before, the number of odd jobs that happen on the farm to keep it going. One of the other things that really surprised me was the toughness of the plants. At first, I was afraid of hurting the plants; I was very gentle with them. Dave kind of explained to me, “They want to grow.” Learning about the resiliency of plants was surprising – not that you just throw them around, but it seems like when the plant is healthy, it’s tougher than I thought it would be.

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

I like to play music and cook a lot. The band I’m in now is very indie music; very blended. I also do recording; I record bands and artists and do mixing and mastering. I enjoy that a lot as well. I have a studio set up in my parents’ garage right now; I’ve been doing that for six years. 

What sort of things do you like to cook?

Lately my favorite thing has been making stuff from the pantry. Instead of going out and finding a fancy ingredient, just using what the farm has and combining it with pantry staples, and finding something fun to do with what we have. Making broths – vegetable stock and meat stock – is something I’ve been excited about. We have a big tub in the freezer that we put peels and seeds and scraps in, and once it’s full, I’ll make a stock. I really enjoyed making Delicata squash stock last winter.

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