Farmer Dave was raised on Marsh Hill in Dracut, Massachusetts. He grew up tramping through local pastures and discovering nature in local forests. At an early age he began working on the Brox Farm in Dracut learning the intricacies of New England farming from John Brox who had been tilling that land since the 1920s.
After graduating from college Farmer Dave served in the Peace Corps as a crop extensionist. In the Andes of Ecuador he taught organic agriculture and worked with farmers to improve their soil health, crop yields, irrigation systems, crop storage, animal health, and marketing methods. All these efforts bettered their families’ nutrition and livelihood. Upon returning from Ecuador in 1997 he began leasing the Brox Farm, growing vegetables and flowers.
In 2003 he was asked to offer his fresh products to a neighboring community and began also leasing the East Street Farm in Tewksbury. He also bean farming two other small local farms and turned the rundown pastures into verdant fields. Working closely with those trying to preserve farmland for future agriculture, in 2006 he finally purchased his own farm in Dracut from the Leczynski family. This became known as Farmer Dave’s Dumaresq Farm, or simply “Farmer Dave’s.” With this new and largest farm, Farmer Dave is growing to make the CSA of the future by planting a wide variety of long term crops including apples, blueberries, raspberries and herbs.
From 2011-2013 Farmer Dave continued his passion of helping those less fortunate by spending three of his winters in the Republic of Georgia. In this most southern of the former soviet republics, Farmer Dave taught farmers young and old the modern methods of growing crops in both heated and unheated greenhouses with the goal of improving the economy of the country by increasing food production and reducing the imports of food. He set out to do this in a sustainable way. He worked with those near geothermal waters to heat their greenhouses without burning any fossil fuels. He demonstrated how by adjusting the indoor growing environment the need for chemical pesticides could be eliminated. He designed training programs to teach small farmers the finer details of growing better and healthier crops. Though he was sent there to teach, Farmer Dave learned a lot from those older farmers on the other side of the world. This knowledge he brings home to grow better food for his members.
Clem remembers rising early in the morning as a youth, hours before school began to work with his brother to carry the banana and cacao from his family’s farm, bringing it to the local wholesale depot. He knows farming; he has always known farming.
Throughout his youth and his adult life Clem has been drawn to working with his hands, and working to cultivate and grow food. He’s had experiences of working both in Jamaica, and through the H2A program began working in the US in apple orchards in Maine and sugar cane fields in Florida. More recently he was a part of the team at Simone Farms in nearby Methuen, MA. For the past four years we have been fortunate to work with Clem at Farmer Dave’s.
As the field manager at Farmer Dave’s, Clem works with Dave and the rest of the team in the preparation of the fields, planting, harvesting, weeding and making sure the vegetables and fruit are growing well. He says the thing he enjoys most is watching the lettuce grow and size up. ‘It makes me feel good to see the food grow’. He also says there is nothing that compares to being able to work in the fields and have a snack harvested right from the ground. ‘Just pick it and wipe off the dirt a little and you’ve got breakfast.’
While he has had the opportunity to work in other professions, Clem knows he wouldn’t enjoy anything as much as he enjoys farming. He believes it doesn’t make sense to have work that you don’t enjoy doing. With Farmer Dave’s he has a great sense of satisfaction with his work, and says those he works with are like family.
Clem’s favorite vegetable is romaine lettuce and loves it steamed with garlic, scallions, onions and pepper. He insists it cooks just like spinach. He’ll also eat it in salad, but forgoes the traditional ceasar dressing for Italian dressing; “It’s the best one to use.”
The question is not exactly what does Jenn do at Farmer Dave’s, but rather what doesn’t she do. Jenn’s main passion is garden design and working in the greenhouses on our flower nursery. Growing up in Dracut, she and her grandfather would work in his garden together, competing against each other for the best looking tomatoes. This childhood activity developed into a career when she began working for nurseries and greenhouses and then went on to study floraculture. She was hired four years ago to help manage all the seeding and growing done on the farm.
However, her job description also includes almost every area of the farm business: organizing and running some of the farmer’s markets, packing the CSA shares, and running the farm stands. Jenn says that the thing she loves most about this job is that it is always changing; with each new part of the season comes a new set of tasks and challenges. And she always meets those challenges with plenty of energy and a smile. When I asked about her favorite vegetable, she didn’t even blink: “Hands down, broccoli.”
Danala was born in St. Thomas, Jamaica. Since coming to the United States about four years ago, he has worked in Alabama, Cape Cod, Florida, and New York City. After marrying the daughter of our field manager (Clem), he moved to Massachusetts to work for Farmer Dave’s. Danala works hard out in the field, in the greenhouses and on the CSA crew. This year, he is responsible for the CSA Packing area, coordinating the washing, packing, and delivery of your CSA shares. It’s a big job, and Danala runs a tight ship.
Although he grew up farming and enjoys it, his passion is building furniture. You should see how excited he gets around woodworking machinery! His favorite vegetable is amaranth (or “Callaloo,” as they call it in Jamaica).
After graduating from Oberlin College in Ohio with a degree in saxophone performance and spending two years as a CSA member and farmers market shopper in Chicago, she decided to leave her office job and turn her passion for CSA and growing great food into a career. She spent the 2007 season as an intern at the Cameron Place CSA in Palisade, Colorado, where she planted seeds, grew vegetables, staffed distribution sites and wrote the CSA newsletter. Then, in the spring of 2008, she moved to Westborough, Massachusetts where she served as the Assistant Farm Manager for Heirloom Harvest CSA.
After spending 2009 in the office at a wholesale greenhouse in Sudbury, she is delighted to join the crew at Farmer Dave’s. She loves the feeling of coming to a job that is so much in line with her values: fresh local healthy food, building community, and helping the planet. Bethany loves to cook with fresh produce and share ideas and recipes with CSA members. Her favorite vegetables depend on the time of year. Lettuce, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and kabocha squash are amongst her top picks.
Ginger is our Assistant CSA Manager and new addition to the Farmer Dave’s team in 2012. She comes to us with a strong background in customer service in the pharmacy field. Being a Farmer Dave’s CSA member for two years changed the way that she thought about where her food came from and what it really means to eat seasonally. Having been a CSA member prior to joining Farmer Dave’s Ginger is able to relate to all of the aspects of membership and is eager to share recipes and tips with the other members.
Ginger helps Bethany in the office and answers member emails as well as helping Dave and the rest of the crew on the farm. Ginger finds it difficult to name a favorite vegetable, because she loves them all. She eagerly looks forward to winter squashes and aji dulce peppers every year. Since she grew up in South Florida she uses sofrito (a sauce made with aji dulce peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro, tomato, and lime juice) in a lot of her cooking.
Enrique Mauricio has worked at Farmer Dave’s for the past three seasons, making 2011 his fourth season at the farm. He can always be found with a smile on his face and a positive thing to say about any situation.
Originally from San Marcos, Guatemala, Enrique (or “Kiké,” as he is called for short) worked in both agriculture and construction before coming to the United States.
Here at Farmer Dave’s, Enrique does many things – from seeding in the greenhouses, to working in the fields, to harvesting vegetables, to washing and packing CSA shares, to keeping our farm stands stocked with ample displays of produce. When asked what his favorite type of work at the farm is, he had trouble thinking of his favorite thing: “es que me gusta todo,” he says, which translates to “the thing is, I like doing everything!” And his favorite vegetable? He loves to eat salads, which he makes with lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, and roasted meat.
The Farm Crew
Have you ever wondered who actually cares for the crops in the fields? Who helps Dave and Clem with the transplanting, weeding, irrigation, harvesting, and all the other field work?
The farm crew consists of around 30 people who live year-round in the Merrimack Valley area, and we’re happy to say that the majority have worked at Farmer Dave’s for multiple seasons. Many are from families that have farmed for generations. They bring knowledge of different farming methods from their home countries, adding to the wealth of growing knowledge at Farmer Dave’s.
During the hottest part of the harvest season, they are the ones who arrive at 5 a.m. to pick lettuce before the heat of the day sets in. They are the ones who harvest in the pouring rain when necessary in order to have enough produce for the shares each day. Without their help, there is no way Farmer Dave’s could feed so many families each week.
We tip our hats to the farm crew, without whom Farmer Dave’s would not be possible!
The Farm Stand Crew
If you have ever been to either of our two farm stands, the Brox Farm Stand in Dracut and the East Street Farm Stand in Tewksbury, then you have probably met some of our hard working farm stand crew. At the peak of the season, we have around 10 people helping throughout the week. Some of these folks have been working for Farmer Dave’s every summer for years and others are with us for just here for their school break.
Diane, Susan, and Jenn are the old standbys who help keep operations running throughout the season each year. Each day (we’re open seven days a week during the peak harvest season!) the crew is here early to open the stand and late to close it down. They run the cash registers, stock the shelves, and husk the corn. And, of course, like most people on the farm, they aren’t always stuck in the stand. They work at the farmers markets, help out with the CSA, work in the greenhouses, and help out wherever else they’re needed.
Check back soon for more farmer biographies!