Lip Gloss Heroes- Meet Jamie!
When we received the entry nominating Jamie of Springdell Farms, we couldn't help but be so enamored by a woman farmer! This definitely jumped right out at us as badass, in such a true way. Being a farmer is getting up wicked early, heading out to the fields and cultivating the land... but Jamie is so much more than that. She's a community builder and has created a place in her town of Littleton, MA where people know they can count on her. It's why we had to choose Jamie as one of our Lip Gloss Heroes 2020.
Here's what was said about Jamie in her nomination: "When the COVID19 pandemic hit and people started worrying about getting food our local farmer Jamie of Springdell Farm in Littleton MA jumped in and mobilized opening her farmstand over a month early bringing in pantry staples milk eggs etc communicated effectively and created a community support that was meaningful and important especially when there was so much uncertainty. We love the community she's built and the essential work she's doing. We're all big supporters of local farmers." We chat with Jamie about the farm, it's history and a little bit about what makes her tick. Let's just say, she's more badass than we originally thought. Welcome to the SaltyGirl Beauty family, Jamie!
Hey Jamie, how did you become a farmer?
I was born and raised on Springdell Farm. Many will tell you that farming is in your blood. You are born with the passion for agriculture running in your veins or you are not. I always enjoyed working the land, growing good food and getting to know the people we work so hard to grow food for. It is a rewarding job that only 1% of the population gets to put on their job description. We have five generations on this land. With four of the five generations having a head operator being a woman. Which is rather normal now. But not so much with the first and second generation.
The farm has been in my family since 1931. Although the land has been continuously farmed since 1781. I guess we are the newest family to call it home. My mom and I inherited the family farm on January 16th, 2009.
When the pandemic hit and everything started to shut down, what were your immediate thoughts?
A whole bunch of crazy things came to my mind. As folks turned to the grocery store and items were not easily there at their fingertips, many turned to the farms within their community.
Some that never even knew farms existed in their own backyard. We operate a bunch of different farm share programs so at the time, our "winter farm shares" were running. We had food covered for all the families and individuals enrolled. But as I saw so many turning to us to see what we had and heard so many stories of what the stores were out of, my family and crew pulled in as much as we could. Got as organized as we could and opened our farm stand for the season way ahead of schedule. I mean, we were pulling in all sorts of products including flour and olive oil. We have a unique set up here. A really old fashioned farm stand...all outside. No doors to open, no closed-in walls. I felt like this little old stand could offer folks a safe, clean and a simple environment to come and gather food. We felt like it was our responsibility as food producers to get food to people. My personal life....well I am a really simple person. The farm is the heartbeat to everything I do. But we were not fully staffed in the early part of the spring, so I was juggling the job of a few to make it all happen for our customers while also trying to raise my two year old son. Long days made for quick family meals and making "family time" while packing meat and producing orders for those that needed to pick up the next morning. Business...this is a farm. It is responsible for growing food and getting good food to our neighbors. Farmers have always been on the bottom of the totem pole. The unsung heros. The minority in the American population. Despite much of our World coming to a halt, the farms still operated. The farm workers still got up and worked the fields and picked the food, tended to the animals, trucked food to the stores. My business was in a unique situation. My whole industry was. And people turning to the farms within their local community was exactly what the farming community needed...a little reminder that we are here.
How have you established your farm community?
We are very retail based. We think we are good neighbors. We think we offer a unique experience to our customers. We always have, long before the pandemic. We worked hard to get products that many were asking for. We allowed folks that needed to get outside to come walk our 80 acres. We extended our "winter farm share season" and extra two weeks so that it bridged right into the start of the spring shares. We had something to offer out neighbors. And we did not do any of it to get a pat on the back. We did it because it was the right thing to do. The farm is here. It has a product to offer that folks needed and the ability to get in stuff that the stores did not. All I hope is that some of the new folks to this farm remember. Farms can only stay farming, long as the neighbors support them. We are up against development every day. And once a farm is gone, it is gone forever. Keep your friends close. And your food supply is closer.
How much produce did you sell at the beginning of the pandemic?
We grow a few greenhouses of greens and put a lot of crops away for storage. Mostly for our winter farm share members and to place out on our counters the one day a week we are open in the winter months. We made sure we kept those items for our members. But quickly began sourcing some great products that folks were seeking. We moved a good amount. We are thankful for the small surge in business and thankful for the new folks that have found this little farm an extension of their own backyard. We hope they stay around for years to come.
What does your community look like now?
We are totally missing our family events. All which had to be cancelled this year. The sheep shearing festival, feeding hour, family nights...all just to name a few. We love welcoming people to the farm! It is why we do what we do. We have always been community-minded. We rely on our community as much as they rely on us. We are still doing what we have always been doing. A good amount of people have always known that. But many have learned recently, during all of this. Like our Senior Boxes...we fill a box with a weekly meal plan for our elderly neighbors. They love it! Wholesome, healthy meals. Our farm shares. A solid investment in your local food supply and your health! We have this old school farm stand. It is nothing like the big fancy farm stores that are all around us. It is little and outside and so old fashioned. But many grew a new appreciation for it during all this. And were thankful it stayed true to its roots.