We’re excited to publish a new Farmer Profile of an inspiring beginning farmer every few weeks on the NYFC blog to help showcase the breadth and vision of the next generation of agricultural leaders.
Sobremesa begins this season under the stewardship of husband and wife team, Jason and Caitlin Rodriguez, on land at Stony Pond Farm in Fairfield, Vermont. We will grow vegetables and herbs on one-twelfth of an acre and tomatoes and hot peppers in a hoophouse. Each crop can be preserved into a marketable product such as fermented vegetables, dried herbs and canned goods.
Our situation is unique as we will launch our vegetable business while interning with Stony Pond Farm, owned by Tyler and Melanie Webb. Stony Pond sells grass-fed organic beef and milk to Organic Valley and Stonyfield Yogurt. As interns, our responsibilities include milking cows, intensively managed grazing, feeding and processing livestock, fence and water systems and more.
We decided to immerse ourselves in sustainable agriculture in January 2013. By April, we had packed the last six years of our lives into a moving truck and headed north from Pennsylvania to join University of Vermont’s 6-month Farmer Training Program (FTP).
1We learned about organic crop production on various scales, soil fertility, compost, greenhouse, pest and disease control, post-harvest storage, tractor use, and business management. We spent a significant amount of time on three farms in Burlington: Bread and Butter Farm, Intervale Community Farm and Half Pint Farm. Before FTP, I spent one season working with teens in sustainable farming with Triskeles. Jason completed a season interning at the biodynamic Kimberton CSA. We tended a home garden, but mostly, we connected to our local farming community through our love and passion for eating intentionally grown food.
Before shifting our purpose to sustainable agriculture, I worked as Director of Development at Kimberton Waldorf School and had previously worked in admissions and marketing. Jason was a mechanical engineer for a small structural analysis consulting firm. We are excited to see how our complementary skillsets will serve us this season.
Our mission to nourish the body, mind and soul throughout the seasons is alive in our name. “Sobremesa” is a Spanish word which describes the time after a meal spent lingering around the table, having food-induced conversations with people with whom you shared the meal. Sobremesa is a time to digest and savor food, family, and friendship. These connections are the heart of our vision: to provide our community with local food year-round by offering fresh produce during the growing season and traditionally preserved foods in the winter.
In the future we imagine owning a farm on which we grow vegetables and raise livestock. We are unsure of the scale. We want to run a sustainable farm business that supports us, nourishes our community, and nurtures the land. We hope for our farm to be a hub for our neighbors to gather and connect over a CSA pick-up, a cup of coffee in an on-farm café, or by listening to music or discussing art on a community culture night.
Since growing and preparing food is our passion, it is amazing to imagine sustaining our livelihood by doing what we love.