FARM GIRL FARM
Laura Meister owns and operates Farm Girl Farm in Great Barrington, MA. INTERVIEW: "When we were trying to think of the name for the farm, we were jokingly calling it Farm Girl Farm. Until we could think of the "real name." And, I had some friends come from out of town, and they were trying to help us brainstorm, and they said "Well, you guys are both women, you're starting this farm together," and I said "well, as a joke we're calling it Farm Girl Farm." And, they're like: "that's it, that's it … it's the essence of this is a new farm, this is a fun farm, this is your dream, to be a farm girl."
"I've done other careers, and I really want to do something I love, and this is it."
"My approach, and our farm is small, and everything we do is by hand, so I really see pretty much every vegetable that leaves the farm and make sure it's as perfect as can be. And, I think there's a sense of mutual appreciation for the aesthetics of the vegetables when I work with the chefs."
"What I enjoy, as far as working with the chefs, is, having gotten to know them and what they're interested in over a series of seasons, and also just working on a small scale, we can talk specifically about "what are you going to use this squash for, and do you want them to be baby, or baby baby, or do you want them to be larger because you want to use them to peel the skins off, and that kind of thing."
"And then when we harvest I can keep it in mind and actually sort as we're going along. And, it's a very open-minded community of chefs and chef-owners … the restaurants here are fantastic. So, for me that's a really satisfying relationship. And, I think there's an artistry, obviously, to the work that they do, and they really, really appreciate the work that we do."
"I do realize, from time to time, the enormity of connection that having a small farm, a CSA farm and a farm that sells to restaurants – connection to other people."
"It's so incredibly important, and it's the foundation of my business. I couldn't do it without everyone who's involved. And, sometimes the enormity of that reality is staggering. We're all doing this together, and I love the idea that we're all doing it together, and by me having a business, I'm supporting someone else having a small business, and so on."
"It's very exciting, and it's very inspiring to feel like we can do it. And, even starting to realize where my money goes, I'll drop produce off at the Co-op and then go around to the front and buy lunch. Or, I'll drop produce off for Allium and a couple hours later I'll go in and have a burger."
"And, there's no where I'd rather have my dollars go after I spend so much time earning them, than right back into the businesses that are supporting mine. So, I love the fact that I'm having a chance to be part of the fabric of the community this way."
"I wouldn't want to be so isolated that I would never leave my property, and I don't live on the farm and really enjoy leaving at night - you know, just being out in the world. That's my personality and that's also, I think, pretty common, in this kind of new arrangement of farming, where so many new/young farmers are coming to it without a family, a piece of land, or knowledge from the family, and who are kind of doing it from scratch and making it work."
"I was actually trained as an art historian and had gone from there into doing photography myself and doing some video with my sister, who was in film school. And, that was the other track that was running in my life. And I came here to the Berkshires, to participate in a one-year Master's in documentary video production. And I thought the great thing about doing it here would be that I could train my lens, so to speak, on small farms around here because I knew that there were many of them."
"So, that's what I did when I got here. And, in doing so, I met lots of the farmers in this community. And while I was editing my final project for school, I decided to work part-time at Indian Line Farm, to be outside, and that's when I met Rory, who was really focused on starting her own operation. And she asked me to join her in her first year, and at some point in that first season there was no question in my mind that there wasn't going to be a second season."