the short version:
- Christy started White Barn Farm in 2008.
- B.A. Sustainable Development from UMASS in 2001.
- Apprenticeship at Spirit Gardens CSA in 2002.
- Home Gardening 2003-2006.
- WWOOF in Switzerland, Italy, Austria, France in 2007.
Heroes: Eliot Coleman, Joel Salatin, Dan Kaplan, Bryan O'Hara, all the real farmers
the whole story:
Growing up in Rangeley, Maine, Christy remembers picking wild strawberries and wildflower bouquets. She grew up hiking, canoeing, skiing, swimming in rivers, and playing in the forest with her brothers. She always had a special place in her heart for rubber boots, especially during Maine's mud season. Her parents had a few pigs, a big vegetable garden, some apple trees, and had Christy and her brothers foraging for fiddleheads in the spring and blueberries during summer. When Christy was in second grade, the family moved in with her grandparents at her dad's family home in Wrentham, Mass, where White Barn Farm is located today. In twenty years, Christy has seen the development of countless housing projects, malls, big box stores, and an outlet mall in Wrentham. Now the family land here is some of the last open space near the center of Wrentham, and happens to be prime agricultural land.
Christy found her interest in agriculture while attending UMass Amherst. A cultural anthropology course introduced the concept of Sustainable Development and inspired a project tracking coffee from its very beginnings to its final consumption in the U.S. Organic Gardening, Sustainable Agriculture, and Vegetable Production courses soon followed. Christy was actually still going to major in Chemistry at that point until her enrollment in the department and subsequent mailbox full of pharmaceutical propaganda coincided with a research paper on genetically modified seeds for her Sustainable Agriculture course. Ownership of the seed supply by agrichemical companies and the general ugliness of industrial agriculture and its effect on our environment and society made something in Christy shift. She wrote her own curriculum for the rest of her studies and graduated in 2001 with a B.A. in Sustainable Development through the BDIC program.
Upon graduation from UMass, Christy went straight to southern Oregon to apprentice at a small vegetable farm, Spirit Gardens CSA. There, she was involved in every aspect of vegetable production and was able to learn plenty from her fellow apprentices and the local farming community. Afterwards, Christy got a job in the kitchen of The Peerless Restaurant in Ashland and started her first home garden in Talent, Oregon. By day, she threw herself completely into slapping together a makeshift hoophouse, double digging manure into her torn up front yard and planning a garden for the first time. In the afternoons and evenings, she was working with an incredible chef couple dedicated to locally, sustainably grown and raised vegetables and meat. It was truly culinary education. Eventually Christy headed back to her roots in Wrentham, and began waitressing in Providence, gardening the plot begun by her great-grandparents, and dreaming of being a farmer. For three years, Christy read books, attended conferences and workshops, and gained experience growing a great diversity of vegetables in her garden each year. In 2007, she embarked on a journey through Europe, working on farms in exchange for some learning experience, room and board through WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms). She began in Switzerland, stayed for many months in Italy, and was able to visit a few farms in Austria and one in southern France. Living with farm families, immersing herself in their lifestyle, Christy felt certain she wanted to be a farmer. Strangely, amidst all the beauty and wonders in Europe, she found herself daydreaming constantly of how to make her family's land back in Massachusetts into a sustainable farm. Something about traveling alone in foreign lands for ten months gave her the final boost of inspiration and courage to start her own farm.
Check out a video of Chris shelling popcorn at Stearns Farm CSA in Framingham
Education and Experience:
- Green Mountain College. B.A. Liberal Studies. Focus on Agroecology, Philosophy, and English
- 2007 and 2008 Assistant Grower, Stearns Farm CSA, Framingham, MA
- 2006. work with Belmont CSA, Belmont, MA; Vanguarden CSA, Dover, MA, and Drumlin Farm, Lincoln, MA
- Summer 2006. 3 months WWOOF in Scotland and Holland
- 2005-6. Internship/Senior Project at Northeastern Vine Supply w/ Andy Farmer, VT
- Winter 2005. Winter Pruning and Cider Making, Hicks Orchard, Granville, NY
- Summer 2001. Farm work, Robert Treat Farm, Milford, CT
Early Influences: Michael Pollan,
Chris credits two major influences with his love for farming: his sandbox and his mom. He always loved to play outdoors and could constantly be found wearing jeans with knees worn through with dirt from late nights in the sandbox. He owes his healthy eating habits to his mom, who as a vegetarian, served him a steady diet of good vegetables. At a very young age, his appreciation for the outdoors and good food had already prepared Chris to find his interest in agriculture.
Once in college, Chris found himself studying philosophy and agroecology. His freshman year he took Fundamentals of Organic Agriculture, became involved in the working farm on campus, and never looked back. He soon had the revelation that he could live by the ethics he was studying in his philosophy courses by practicing sustainable agriculture.
Karen started at White Barn Farm in 2010
Ben worked full time at White Barn Farm in 2010 and has worked at the farm to some degree ever since!