Crows' Feat Farm
Karen Parker Feld and Peter Freeman are going back to their roots in agriculture, and are taking Crows’ Feat back to its roots as a working farm. Karen “knows” all about farming from an altitude of 30,000 feet, having earned a Ph.D. from the Food Research Institute at Stanford. She became interested in agriulture from her studies of the farming practices associated with an improved variety of beans in Nigeria. What she found surprised her, and the scientists at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan. It’s not enough to have a seed that performs brilliantly under controlled conditions – as a sole crop, sustained with heavy application of fertilizers and pesticides. Rather, one must look at the entirety of the farming system – the interaction between crops in the field, the cost and availability of key inputs, and the uses of farming residue – in order to determine what constitutes an improvement in the eyes and lives of farmers. Karen came to understand the meaning of permaculture, without having ever heard the term.
The challenge of providing sufficient and nourishing food for our society has assumed new urgency as a result of climate change, especially the widening drought and loss of topsoil that are ravaging the agricultural heartlands of California and the rural Midwest (her home ground). Karen believes that the sustainable cultivation of arable lands in the eastern and northern United States is vitally important to the survival of our people and communities. It is upon that belief that she and Peter are restoring these lands as a regenerative farm. Her hope is is to take her 30,000 foot knowledge right down to the ground, creating a space for collaboration and cooperation among farmers who can sustain our soils and our souls.
Peter is a self-taught and talented carpenter, builder and mechanic. As a dyslexic boy who struggled to read – at a time when educators had little understanding of the condition, and even fewer ways to navigate its challenges – Peter became adept at learning through careful observation and practice. He turned his dyslexia to his advantage, becoming more attentive and adept in seeking and overcoming challenges than most people. He started his own construction business at the age of 25, and managed it successfully for 30 years. Along the way he built a loyal clientele who appreciate his skill, integrity, and craftsmanship. As Karen is proud of saying, everyone loves Peter. He has a knack for making friends and building trust – along with just about anything else!
A talented photographer, lover of nature, and someone who chafes at being indoors, it’s been Peter’s lifelong dream to become a farmer. It is a dream that he and Karen are fulfilling together with the cultivation of Crows’ Feat Farm and the community it nurtures.
Deb O’Day is a neighbor and friend of Crows’ Feat Farm who has been a regular participant at our concerts, community meetings and work parties over the past two years. She has now joined the cooperative as an enterprise farmer. A retired medical device software program manager, Deb comes with exceptional organizational and communications skills, as well as a talent for cultivating flowers and friends (humans and other species!). Deb is an amateur wildlife photographer who also dabbles in nautical and motorsport photography, not to mention personal portraits. She will be assisting in our flower cultivation and farm share operations, as well as our new farm store. In her spare time, Deb enjoys spending time with her dear husband Mark, her two Labrador retrievers and the accomplishments of her two grown sons.
Ken Couture is a neighbor and friend of Crows’ Feat Farm who has been a regular participant in our work parties over the past year. He has now joined the cooperative for his second career as an enterprise farmer. A former software engineer, Ken brings meticulous analytical and organizational skills to our planting operations. Just as we have been learning from him, Ken has learned about no-till growing techniques and the art of groundhog re-location (hoping to avoid a Caddyshack moment!) Ken will be managing our operations – with a focus on greens and tomatoes – right across the street at 187 Drinkwater Rd. He will also assist Pete with maintenance of the farm’s infrastructure. Kens’ interests include ocean kayaking and renewable energy options for consumers, such as solar, batteries, and EVs.
Yulia Rothenberg knows a little something about almost everything – and is a “mover and shaker” in the Seacoast local community. She worked for many years at the University of New Hampshire, first at UNH’s Sustainability Institute and later at the Cooperative Extension Service. She is a member of the Seacoast Permaculture Board of Directors, the Seacoast TimeBank, the Greater Seacoast Health Clinic, and the Dover Arts Commission. A lifelong gardener and amateur herbalist, Yulia is adept at crafting beautiful and useful objects, often from repurposed materials. She is also a wonderful cook, and will be leading the culinary charge at our Community Farm Dinners this summer!
The dandelion project
The Dandelion Project is Linh Aven‘s journey into the world of edible perennial crops, rebuilding soil health, and sharing abundance. She is applying her systems thinking to her farm in Nottingham NH, in order to support a better quality of life for our communities. Linh aims to strengthen local food networks while protecting natural habitats.
Linh is both a biologist and a chef. Her love of learning has taken her from observing ladybugs as a child growing up in southern California, to a Biology degree at Whitworth in Spokane, WA. She earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine at Boston University, then joined a biotech start-up. Feeling called to nurture those around her through food, she took off her lab coat and put on an apron. Linh stepped into non-profit catering, baking from-scratch croissants at a French bakery, then product development as the Executive Chef of the healthy fast-casual restaurant B.Good…and is now full-circle back to watching ladybugs!
Linh’s experience in food service gave her a broader understanding of how we eat: large-scale agriculture, lengthy distribution chains, and a lot of waste. This led her to think there has got to be a better way! Inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s book, One Straw Revolution, she found herself reading deeply about permaculture, agroforestry, and holistic practices. All point towards a return to ancient and indigenous ways of growing food. Somewhere in our striving towards innovation and efficiency in food production, important knowledge was lost. Things like dandelions, which we all think of as weeds, are actually edible from root to flower. What if a farm focused on growing foods that are as resilient as weeds? What if that farm also focused on perennial crops that only need to be planted once yet harvested over many years? She understands that nature provide for us in unexpected (and sometimes mysterious!) ways.
Hungry Heart Farm
Terry O’Brien is the owner of Hungry Heart Farm, a small, diversified, culinary-focused vegetable farm in Kingston, NH. Originally from New Jersey, Terry made his way to New England to work for his wife’s family’s farm, Canaan Farm in Wenham, MA. Terry was impressed with the extensive local food community that existed in both the North Shore and Seacoast regions, and spent the next 4 years honing his skills at Heron Pond Farm before starting his own.
Terry is passionate about building healthy soils, growing quality food, and transforming that food into healthy and delicious meals and other products. Terry hopes to introduce and encourage more local food, especially vegetables, into people’s homes. He also hopes to show people the environmental implications of their food choices, and how eating local food can minimize your impact on the environment.
SOkoki Falls Farm
Jordan Keating is partnering with Crows’ Feat Farm to develop a fruit and nut tree orchard, which will feature chestnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pawpaw, persimmons and peaches. The orchard will be planted on terraces that follow the natural contours of Rolling Ridge, supported by swales to gather rainwater and promote soil fertility.
Jordan and his wife Marina manage Sokoki Falls Farm, a homestead, nursery, ecological landscaping service, and budding forest garden nestled in southeastern Vermont. They believe that perennial food, medicine, and indigenous resource crops are the key to a verdant future. They use no chemical pesticides or fertilizers, and their farm is almost entirely human powered.
Jordan is a passionate ecologist, forager, and farmer with deep roots in New England. He received a B.A. in Regenerative Agriculture and Food Systems from Sterling College.