Barbara and David Perkins started Vermont Valley Community Farm in 1994 as a CSA. Their son Jesse and his wife Jonnah are now continuing to farm with the focus soley on seed potatoes. Jesse and Jonnah's kids, Paavo and Mischa, enjoy being at the farm and Mischa even likes to help out when she can. Paavo prefers to lay in the sun.
Jesse fills a lot of roles at the farm. He is the seed packing and shipping manager, does most of the summer field work and along with David and a crew, does the potato harvest. He is also the customer service department and answers emails and phone calls.
After over a decade as logistics and communications manager at Vermont Valley, Jonnah has taken her passion for people, places and food into her work as a writer, photogarpher and recipe developer. She is convinced that potatoes have a lot to say. Jonnah helps out in production whereever she is needed.
David is still very involved in the farm. He does all of the spring tillage, while Jesse is busy in the packing shed. Jesse and David work together to figure out the big picture plan for the season, but David does the field planning and fertility planning. After growing up on a farm and working from a very young age, David is finally starting to become comfortable with partial retirement. He is doing a better job of staying away from the farm and on his sailboat in the summer. But so far, he has always made it back for harvest.
Barb helps out with bagging in the spring and sorting in the fall. After running a CSA for 24 years, she now enjpoys being a workershare at Crossroads Community Farm. Being retired comes more natural to her than it does to David and she stays very busy with many different activities throughout the year.
After 24 years we decided to end the CSA, Barb and David were ready for partial retirement and Jesse decided that he did not want to continue the CSA. After farming full time alongside his parentsfor 15 years, Jesse knew the commitment, both in time and energy, that it takes to run a small scale vegetable farm. Having two youg children, now 8 and 10, he wanted to prioritize them over work and vegetable farming takes an overwhelming amount of dedication through the summer months. While seed potato farming isn't easy, it shifts the burdern of work to the spring and fall, during the school year. Making the change allowed Jesse to contine farming, while being able to spend a lot of time with family.
Barb and David wrote this for our CSA website in 2014, it sums up the CSA experience at Vermont Valley.
"Vermont Valley Community Farm was founded in 1994. We (Barb and David) and our three children moved from Madison’s isthmus to the Town of Vermont with the sole purpose of starting a CSA. The beauty of the area, proximity to Madison and good soil for growing vegetables were instrumental in our decision. Our goal was to leave our city jobs and become full time farmers. This goal was realized in 3 years. We had 50 CSA members our first season (mostly loyalty from the near east side!). The CSA membership grew incrementally until we reached our peak in 2009 with 1250 shares. Our focus has always been on CSA, we believe strongly in this model. All of the food we grow on the farm gets distributed to our CSA members. We do not sell at the farmer’s market or to restaurants and have sold just a few select items to Willy St Coop over the years. It is very important to involve our members and encourage them to come out to the farm. As we head into year 20 we are grateful to the Madison community for the incredible support!"