On 43 acres of fields, which was purchased by his grandfather over thirty years ago, Christ (pronounced like ‘list’) is a young farmer just getting established on the family land. Since many of his nearby relatives are guiding his growth, the venture is bound to be successful. For years he was assisting his cousins Elam and Amos, who both operate Co-op member farms. That’s where he learned how to raise a reliable crop and keep things neat and tidy.
At Meadow Brook the land is shared by the usual array of structures, livestock, gardens, produce and grasses. It lays flat which makes it easy to observe the organization of the entire operation. The buildings are the central component – a house, several barns, and sheds. Impeccably maintained, the lawn is edged with precision where it meets the gravel driveway. In the lower-level of the main barn, the deep lows of cows could be heard – the morning milking was in process. Around the buildings are gardens and produce fields. The remainder of the land is pasture for thirty-five cows.
In the produce fields, Christ is growing onions (red and sweet yellow), Malabar spinach, French breakfast radishes, arugula, Romano beans and, in the fall, will be seeing an abundance of butternut squash. The squash has a certain fondness for Christ, he said, “it’s something good to eat – so it makes sense to grow something I like.”
Onions are a primary crop for Meadow Brook. Right now, Christ is sending some fresh onions through the CSA. In a month he will begin harvesting them for storage. This means that after pulling them from the ground he will lay them out so that they can dry in the sun. Next, he will take them to his barn, cut the tops off, spread them out in a single layer, and set up fans to keep the air circulating, which will ensure they don’t become rotten. After about a week or so, they will be ready for storage – at that point they will appear like the onions found most often in grocery markets.
Elsewhere, the Romano beans are almost ready for picking. They are an Italian flat-pod variety that is similar to green beans.
Close to the plot where the beans grow is a large garden where Christ and his wife, Katie, raise food for themselves and their newborn (a four-month-old girl). This garden is planted tightly with all sorts of produce. A common feature on most family farms, a garden is an opportunity to experiment with new crops and alternative methods of agriculture. For instance, he is using old tires as planters for his watermelons and blueberry bushes – a good tip for any at-home gardener.
Overall, things are kept in meticulous order at Meadow Brook Organics. The same attention to the lawn is given to the fields and gardens. In between the rows of onion, Christ and a farmhand were cutting weeds. “Weeds are always something to keep in mind,” he stated, “if you think that your crop is almost done, a rain might come and boost the weeds.” Last year, this scenario played out and seemingly overnight the weeds sprouted and were higher than the crop they were growing around.
Such considerations are characteristic of a farmer that wants to steward the land through to the next generation and beyond. When all facets of the farm are administered with such care, Meadow Brook is in line to sustain their organic tradition.