Before we moved our farming operation to North Amherst, we looked buying a farm in Ithaca, NY. The farm was beautiful, it had a nicely established customer base and equipment, and what seemed like a nice crew of employees. One of our questions that we asked that crew was, “Are the owners superheroes? Are we going to have to be superhuman to run this farm?” The answer was no; that farm, as with most farms, was run by regular human beings who like to work hard but also have a reasonable work/life balance. It’s not necessary to be a superhero to run a farm, but for the last four years, we have had a superhero on our staff, and her name is Abby Clarke. Abby showed up one fall and asked to volunteer a few hours a week in exchange for veggies. We said sure, whatever, an extra hand can’t hurt. It didn’t take us long to notice that she was a great worker, and soon she was working for us full time. Over time, we have been astounded by her capacity to work harder, smarter, longer, and best of all, more enthusiastically, than we could ever really reasonable to expect of our crew. She has set the pace, and the positive tone, for the rest of us, and just keeps chugging through the inevitable setbacks and complications of our variable and chaotic conditions. Over the years of her involvement here, she has also found time to explore adventures on the side, from dog-mushing in Alaska to keeping creepy insect pets (seventeen tarantulas, Abby? Really?) to baking up a storm at the Black Sheep. This past season, she has been driving to Cape Cod every Tuesday after work to work on securing herself a situation in her native Falmouth at a community farm that might be much like this one, and showing up on Wednesday mornings chipper, enthusiastic and ready to lead the crew on our adventures in farming. We get used to saying goodbye to people in the fall, but Abby leaves some particularly large shoes to fill. We wish her the best of luck in her farming endeavors, and if any of you happen to be at the Cape next summer and stop by the Tony Andrews Farm in Falmouth, we hope that the new farmer there is a familiar face!
So wonderful, so true!