Melanie grew up in Stratford, Connecticut, on Long Island Sound. “We lived in a little Cape house with a tiny yard, so we didn’t do a lot of gardening, but I did do a lot of fishing,” she said. “I attribute some of my farming roots to that sort of self-sufficiency. Once or twice a week, especially in the summer, we ate fish we had caught.”
She started growing plants when, at 18, she got a job with a landscaping company on the east end of Long Island. “I loved working outside, but it wasn’t as fulfilling as I wanted it to be.” Meanwhile, to earn extra money, she worked at an organic farm stand run by a local family. “I loved the small family farm feel,” she said.
Among the crops Melanie enjoys growing, alliums and root vegetables are favorites. When she isn’t farming, Melanie draws, paints, quilts and knits. “A lot of farmers I know are artists,” she observed. And she loves to cook. Her top three vegetable to eat: early season tomatoes, eggplant and cabbage (as sauerkraut).
Melanie studied agroecology, the study of the ecology of agricultural systems, at Prescott College in Arizona. In addition to her work at Land’s Sake, she has farmed at Red Fire, an organic CSA farm in Granby, Mass (where she apprenticed) and recently at Hutchins Farm in Concord and Allandale Farm in Chestnut Hill. She and her partner Drake and their two dogs (Max, a hound/Lab mix, and Gus, a terrier mix) live in Maynard.
Assistant Farm Manager Ember Fleming discovered her fascination with plants when she took a botany course as a student at McDaniel College in Maryland. A summer spent building and maintaining trails in Massachusetts with the Student Conservation Association awakened a love for working outdoors.
“I decided to try a season of farming and was instantly hooked!” she says. Through her studies as an environmental policy and science major with a concentration in biology, she learned about the importance of diversified farms practicing organic and sustainable methods.
A Duxbury native, Ember worked one season at Dragonfly Farms in Pepperell. She moved on to Siena Farms in Sudbury, where over four years she rose from apprentice to greenhouse manager and senior assistant grower. Stearns Farm appealed to her for the opportunity to get to know sharers during work hours and pickups. “Serving my community is a large reason why I farm,” Ember says. Beets, spinach, broccoli, kale, and “any and all herbs” are her favorite crops to grow.
Ember lives in Stow (but is moving to Hudson) with her partner Mike, along with six fish. “We hope our next pet has four legs and a tail,” she says. When she isn’t working, Ember enjoys hiking, reading young adult fantasy novels, tending her own garden, and learning how to make things.