Hi! We are Oliver and Lauren.
I (Lauren) have had a desire to homestead and grow my own food as far back into childhood as I can remember. I grew up in Connecticut, and had my first job at age ten picking blueberries. I spent several years in the Pacific Northwest, first in Oregon studying social work, Spanish, and sustainable food systems. My focus at that point was in pursuing community food security work, but I soon realized that I didn’t know enough about the issues I was aiming to help solve. I started farming in my last year of college, and moved to Washington to help start a small-scale farm. After a few years, I moved back across the country to Vermont, and have been working on a variety of vegetable farms here since. I have grown vegetables on farms ranging from less than an acre up to 50 acres in size, and have worked doing a little bit of everything – from greenhouse to field to wash/pack to markets and everything in between! I continue to work on and with farms, now focusing more on flower production and in retail settings.
Oliver grew up in a military family that lived in many places, including Michigan and Alaska. He was always encouraged to spend time outdoors at play, he then excelled as a multi-sport athlete and achieved the Eagle Scout award with the Boy Scouts. He studied environmental science in college, spent several years working as a commercial fisherman, and was fortunate to backpack for an extended period in Southeast Asia. As a young adult, Oliver enjoyed books about history, agriculture and poetry, including the works of Wendell Berry. He worked at sea for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and in 2005 made his move inland, to Vermont. While in Vermont, Oliver has been embedded in the local food and farm community as a herdsman of sheep, beef and dairy cows, poultry, and pigs; as a hay farmer and cheese maker; and as a food co-op manager of produce and meat departments. Nowadays he works as a carpenter and especially enjoys the traditional New England timber frame style.
We met working on an organic vegetable farm just up the road from where we live now, and quickly began dreaming and scheming of a homestead and farm of our own. We found our way to our new property on Cowdrey Road in the midst of the pandemic. We moved in mid-May of 2020 and started putting in a garden before we had finished unpacking.
We now have 13.6 acres that we are excited to see put to use growing fresh, delicious food for our local community.
“Tilling the soil is the equivalent of an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, and forest fire occurring simultaneously to the world of soil organisms.” – USDA NRCS pamphlet Farming in the 21st Century: A Practical Approach to Improve Soil Health
Plowing is such a ubiquitous part of farming that many of us have never questioned it. However, more research and experience is showing the benefits of no-till farming systems. We have chosen to adopt a never-tilled approach, building permanent growing beds above the existing landscape without even an initial till of the soil. The biggest benefit that we see to this method of production is promoting the health of the soil by maintaining its structure. No-till methods add organic matter to the soil and keep the diverse underground ecosystem of animals, fungal networks, and microorganisms intact. Long-term fertility reserves are built, allowing plants to access available nutrients while using fewer inputs. No-till methods also help to minimize erosion, keeping soil and sediment out of the air and waterways (including the wetlands that cut across our property). Another benefit is that we are keeping the majority of weed seeds buried underground rather than bringing them to the surface where they would germinate.
We use our own bodies, with the help of specialized hand tools, to do the work to grow our crops. We do not rely on equipment or machinery (nor the fossil fuels they require), which creates a safer, quieter, and healthier environment for us to work in.
We plant our vegetables close together, which not only allows us to fit more food into a smaller growing space, but leaves less soil bare and leaves the weeds less room to grow! We are also able to plant multiple types of crops in the same space, helping to break future cycles of pests and disease and attract pollinators and beneficial insects. We plant many varieties of the same type of vegetables for an extended harvest window and a buffer against crop loss.
We use organic materials (such as compost, leaves, hay, and woodchips) to build our growing beds and mulch our pathways. This helps to build the soil and to smother weeds so we can avoid tillage.
Our no-till methods promote a good soil structure, which helps to conserve moisture within the soil. We also use mulch to prevent bare soil to discourage evaporation in hot weather. When we need to water, we use small sprinklers set low to the ground on a low-flow system to reduce wasted water.
We are trialing many varieties this year, both to see what grows best on our land and what our customers enjoy the most!
We are growing many favorite vegetable crops including some mini varieties of lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, and winter squash and multicolored greens, beets, carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes, and sweet peppers.
Look out for herbs, microgreens, and edible flowers as well!
WHERE TO FIND US
Lebanon Farmers Market
May 20 – September 30
Hartland Farmers Market
May 28 – September 24[We are participating in the Hartland market doing online orders. The ordering window is from Monday morning til Wednesday evening, and orders can be picked up during the market, which will also feature in-person vending. For more information, visit their website]
Norwich Farmers Market
July 31 – October 30
GET IN TOUCH
Address: 169 Cowdrey Road, Windsor VT 05089
Please contact us if you are interested in ordering produce for on-farm pick-up!
Copyright 2021 Ascutney Harvest LLC