Melanie Hardy, a former manager of Land’s Sake Farm in Weston, joined Stearns Farm CSA as 2016 farm manager on Jan. 1. She has been farming for 15 years, working at large and small farms in the northeast and in Arizona.
“There’s something really beautiful and simple about Stearns that I’m really excited about,” she said in a telephone conversation last week.
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. As she prepares for the Stearns summer season, she”s looking forward, also, to growing tomatoes in the cathedral and perfecting her techniques for producing loose greens.
She expects to spend her first season at Stearns becoming familiar with the systems that previous farmers have established. “It takes a while to learn who you’re farming for, and what the land is like. I’m looking forward to getting to know the community and the land.”
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 Grower Ken Skudder loves vegetables—both growing them and eating them. He is originally from Ohio, but moved to New England because of the abundance of local food and small-scale, sustainable, diversified farms here. He has worked on half a dozen farms in New England, including vegetable and dairy farms. His favorite vegetable to harvest is kohlrabi and his favorite vegetable to eat is the artichoke. He enjoys efficient systems, and singing little songs about farming as he works.
When he is not farming, Ken likes playing ultimate frisbee, soccer, and guitar as well as rock climbing, going for bike rides and walks, cooking, baking excessive amounts of cookies, building websites, writing short fiction, washing his friends’ dishes, helping kids with their homework, and listening to music.
Ken is excited about Stearns Farm because of the awesome sense of community here, the beautiful landscape, the incredibly rich soil, and the intimate scale which all make it feel like a special place to work.