1) How long have you been farming?
Throughout high school and early college, I had done a variety of manual labor jobs that exposed to me to ideas of permaculture, self sufficiency, community support through agriculture, even though I might not have been aware of it at the time. I really started agricultural work full time in 2016 when I began traveling through agricultural work. The bulk of that year was spent working at a winery cooperative in Catalunya, doing vineyard work, olive tree work, cellar work, and also working with a local bee keeper there. That year also held a stint working at a cheddar dairy in Wales. Upon coming back to the U.S., I spent most of last year working in the city (not farming) to support my own re-education in agriculture, taking courses to learn about farming as much as possible, spending time with farmers, and really honing in on the step to take towards farming for a living and figuring out what kind of farming I wanted to be doing. Part of that search involves looking for agricultural work that has social and regenerative value, which led me to find Carversville Farm Foundation! And here we are. So it’s been a roundabout way to arrive at farming, but no doubts it will be a pretty big part of my life from here on… (With a background in film, I photo-documented most of the work and people I worked with while traveling, can be seen here: Ianbrunell.com)
2) What made you want to go into farming?
There are many answers to this questions, but to keep it simple: I was looking for work and lifestyle that are more suited to my personality and long-term goals. On the day-to-day level, the tasks, the constant problem solving, and the physical nature of farming work very much appeal to me, as does the constant connection to the natural world around me – especially the presence of animals. On a broader scale, working in agriculture gets me close to the long-term goal of having a hand in sustainable land management and food production. I left my work in the film industry to travel and work various agricultural jobs, and after a stint working at a raw-milk cheddar dairy in Wales (Holden Farm Dairy, Makers of Hafod Cheese, it’s quite an amazing cheddar, thanks to the beautiful work of the herdsman and cheesemakers there), concepts of soil health, long-term food security, and how to build land health while still growing food to feed a population came to the forefront of my brain. After returning to the U.S., I spent a year re-educating myself in various ways about farming and land management, and through a lot of reading and time spent with farmers, learning the skills of raising animals and grassland / pasture management seemed most fit to me. So, a combination of daily work that I enjoy and is mentally stimulating that contributes to a lifestyle fit to me. Farming feels like a pretty happy marriage of those two things.
3) What is something you have experienced here that you never expected?
The smell I’d wear with me for the rest of the day after catching a feisty / skittish goat buck – not that I mind it. Quite earthy, really.
4) What is your favorite season and why?
I’m not one for the cold, definitely love sweating on a hot summer day, however the first real winter I felt after living in Southern California / the Mediterranean for a while was pretty nice. It’s mostly the change in seasons that I enjoy, whatever season we’re in keeps the other ones in perspective.
5) What is a typical day for you at CFF?
Pretty great! With the dismal weather, we’ve mostly been focused on getting everything ready for the grazing season. There are the typical chores, checking on hay, water, the various foodstuffs for the animals, spiced up with the more exciting tasks like cleaning the egg-mats for the egg mobile. Today we moved the goats, and I think we’re all looking forward to getting everyone out on pasture and moving around (hopefully) next week. A decent amount of egg washing every day, too – right now we’re collecting a solid 18 dozen eggs a day. Some of my favorite days so far have included picking Craig’s brain about all sorts of animal-related knowledge, hearing his thoughts on life, good lunch-time talks, visiting our partners in the city…having designated tasks with other, varying jobs and events interspersed makes for a nice balance.
6) How do you unwind after a long day at the farm?
It depends on the day. As of the past two weeks, my end of day activities (if I’m not on evening chores) generally include a lot of reading (mostly about animals, farming, agroforestry, definitely a little fiction to break it up), noodling on my banjo which I hadn’t regularly played in quite a while, talking about life with my awesome cohorts, and maybe a tasty beer while doing any one of the aforementioned activities. We haven’t hit the long, hot, energy-intensive days yet, so let’s revisit this question in a months…
7) What is something you can’t wait to make using ingredients from our farm?
Holy buckets, all the things. I love making a chuck roast for a group of people – sharing food is wonderful and a good roast is a delicious way to do so. I make a lot of bone broth (so hopefully some of that), which I use in a broth-wine reduction. After braising a solid roast, and a collection of veggies, I toss it in a any sort of ceramic roasting dish and let it go for a few hours in the oven. Delightful! Also, I’ve been really into rendering tallow recently, using it in soaps, salves, and other self-care things, so if there’s ever any beef suet from one that we’ve raised….
8) What’s a quote you live by?
“Un gat amb gaunts no caça ratons.” It’s not really something to live by in any way, but it’s a fun one. It’s a phrase in Catalan that means “A cat with gloves can’t hunt mice.” One of the guys I was working in the vineyards with said that to me once when we were doing vine formations in the winter. It was cold there, we wore gloves, but when you wear gloves, tying fine knots around vines and wires with small-diameter twine becomes quite difficult.
9) What advice would you give to someone thinking about going into farming?
Spend time with other farmers as much as possible. Learn from others. There are so many ways to do things, so many different styles and skills in land management, and believing in open communication information / experience sharing goes a long way towards educating ourselves and each other. Educate yourself as much as possible whenever possible. If you’re unsure of what kind of farming you would want to be doing, visit farmers and talk to them about their lives and work to narrow it down. There are a lot of good events through state programming (PASA, NOFA, to name a couple) to bridge all sorts of gaps between aspiring farmers, farmers, other agricultural workers, and so on.
10) If you had to pick, what’s your favorite piece of equipment we have?
Our hands! Do they count? If not, despite the fact that I haven’t spent too much time in it yet, the milking parlor! Otherwise, hoof trimmers.
On May 4, 2018, CFF’s Co-Executive Director Tony Dorazio along with Chad Adams of Ground Plan Studio, Bio-Logical Capital will be presenting Carbon Farming: The Climatic, Social and Economic Implications of Regenerative Agriculture at the 2018 Sustainability Symposium hosted by Green Build United at Penn State at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia, PA from 9:00am-10:00am.
This session will be moderated by Hannah Smith-Brubaker, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture and will discuss Carbon Farming; farming in a way that reduces greenhouse gas emissions or captures and holds carbon in vegetation and soils. It is managing land, water, plants, and animals to restore ecosystems, ameliorate climate change, and provide nutrient dense food and educational opportunities. Also described as Regenerative Agriculture, these goals are achieved through a focus on lower-sequestration strategies like no-till organic annual cropping, perennial crops, and managed grazing. Attendees will learn the overall concepts and specific metrics of this emerging practice through four business case studies, and will come to understand the implications for communities on how and where these types of food production can fit.
For more information about the symposium or to register please click here: https://greenbuildingunited.org/events/2018-sustainability-symposium
|Stewing Hens||15 pounds|
|GRAND TOTAL||271 pounds|
In a medium bowl, gently whisk the almond milk, yogurt, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, the vanilla and 1/8 teaspoon salt until blended. Whisk in the chia seeds; let stand 30 minutes. Stir to distribute the seeds if they have settled. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, in a medium bowl, toss the berries with the remaining 4 teaspoons maple syrup. Mix in the almonds.
Spoon the pudding into 4 bowls or glasses; mound the berry mixture on top and serve.
In an effort to make warmer weather get here faster, we are bringing back our CFF t-shirts! Sizes range from Small to X-Large. Sweatshirts are $17.50 and we accept cash, check, or credit card. Merchandise can be purchased directly from the farm by contacting Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, 100% of the proceeds go to feed the needy in our own backyards.
By partnering with several Bucks County food pantries, Broad Street Ministry, Coalition Against Hunger, Cathedral Kitchen and Face to Face Germantown, people throughout the Philadelphia area are benefiting from our nutritious harvest.