Meet the Farmers: Greg & Kristina Yoder
We both grew up in Mennonite communities of south-eastern Pennsylvania, but fell in love with the Shenandoah Valley after college. Through our experiences at Goshen College and Eastern Mennonite University, we became interested in sustainable food systems, caring for the environment, and living abundantly through simplicity. While working as a teacher, Greg worked for a local CSA vegetable farmer during the summertime, and found the work refreshing, inspiring, and meaningful. As the summer wore on, it became clear that we were both drawn to the life and lifestyle of small-scale farming.
In January of 2013 we decided to pursue our dreams and moved onto a 10-acre farm in Penn Laird, VA. The farm had not been in operation for a number of years, and we began the slow process of restoration and reclamation. In the fall of that year we bought three goats to help us with the large jobs of clearing brush and managing honeysuckle and other invasive species. The herd continues to grow, and the farm is slowly coming to life. We currently raise the goats, which continue to help us to restore the property (and serve as entertainment!), manage a small flock of laying hens, and we are actively expanding our vegetable operation. We are beyond excited to share with you our love for the land and our healthy local produce.
Some thoughts from Greg:
In my work as an elementary music teacher, I love being around children and helping them feed their curiosity. One of the reasons I'm so excited about the CSA model of farming is the potential for connecting with customers in very meaningful ways. CSA customers can be anybody -- but the CSA model can be especially appealing to families with young children. The excitement of a weekly box of vegetables, the connection to a real place where you can really go to see real food growing in the real dirt. (Side-note: I've found that children are way more likely to eat veggies when they are able to be involved in the process of growing and picking them. There's something about seeing that what they are eating is poking up out of the dirt that just thrills them). Kristina and I moved on to the farm in part because of the experiences that we hope it will afford our children someday. And to be able to share those experiences -- to give a taste of the farm to children ages one to ninety-two -- that is a profoundly life-giving thing for me. I'm someone who learned to milk a goat in his mid-twenties, and I know firsthand the joy of taking on new challenges and taking pleasure in the small successes in life.
I'm also someone who finds working in the soil to be very soulful. As a musician and songwriter, I've found much inspiration in my experiences working the land and being connected to, dependent upon, and at the mercy of the natural world. It is a profound joy in my life to have meaningful, tiring, physical work to do, and I have been richly blessed with friends who join me in singing about it afterwards. So, to the pleasures of learning new things, working hard, and sharing a new song late in the evening when the work -- though never done -- has been laid aside for a few hours; to these pleasures I say, "cheers!" And I look forward to sharing those pleasures with new members this year.