I ended up switching my major to Sustainable Agriculture when I realized that small scale farming was an important solution to our nation’s health. My junior year of college I studied abroad in Tuscany, Italy where I worked on a 1,500 acre organic farm. It was the first time that I both lived and worked full time on a farm and I felt so happy to be faced with new and challenging situations every morning and then end each day surrounded by good food and wonderful people. I’ve worked full time as a farmer ever since.

MS: How did you get started/where did you begin?
AA: I went to college at UMass Amherst to study journalism. My dream job was to be a layout editor for a food magazine. Along the way I realized that I didn’t really enjoy any of the journalism classes and was thoroughly immersed in learning about food, culture, and problems with our food system.

MS: What are your favorite parts about what you do?
AA: I feel the most proud about building a relatively balanced life as the business has grown. Farming is SO hard, in so many ways, so I’ve been mindful since the beginning about prioritizing the sustainability of what we do – including the people and the finances, beyond the environmental choices we make in our growing practices. Since starting the farm I’ve gotten married and raised three happy and healthy kids. There have been times when it’s hard to put the brakes on growing the business to ensure I’m spending enough time with my family, but it’s a choice that I can’t imagine I will ever regret. I frequently ask myself the question, “What do I want my life to look like when I’m 80 years old?” For me, it’s the easiest way to make decisions towards creating the future life I want to live, filled with memories spent with my family and friends, time spent enjoying good food, and a home that is nourished by our community. The farm could demand 24 hours a day of my time because the to-do list is endless, and so keeping that long-term vision in mind helps make it less painful to leave farm tasks unfinished at the end of a shift. With a few exceptions, I finish work at noon every day so that I can spend time with my family.

MS: Do you have advice for people interested in the same field?
AA: Set goals, set boundaries, and maintain them. Farming wears you out physically and mentally until you have nothing left. We work long hours often for no pay, take a lot of risks, and can so quickly lose it all to the weather. You quickly learn how to prioritize investments that mitigate risk and to build back-up plans into your back-up plans so that you can survive. Farmers who are creative and innovative (and have a functioning budget!) are the ones who succeed. I feel so fortunate that I took the time and energy to volunteer/intern/work at so many different farms before building one for myself. I see too many folks mesmerized by the romantic notions of a farming life that are crushed when they realize the realities of just how much hard work and money it costs to grow food. I wish I had known that this life would require constant advocacy. Even after 10 years building a successful business we still constantly defend our livelihood against small town politics. We devote a lot of time to consumer education so that our community can understand how to eat locally and why it’s so important.

“My definition of success is having my basic needs met, feeling an overall sense of happiness and pride with my work, and being able to give generously.”

MS: Who/what are your biggest inspirations and why?
AA: My kids are my biggest inspiration. They are some of the kindest, most generous, creative people that I know and I’m constantly learning from them. On the farm, I’m also continuously inspired by the tiny-but-mighty cohort of young, small-scale farmers around the country. We connect on Instagram and it keeps this lifestyle from feeling lonely and overwhelming.

MS: What is your favorite food/drink-related memory?
AA: Covid hit our farm pretty hard, but it hit our local food economy even harder. We worked really hard to support other chefs and farmers in our community and worked crazy hours to pull it off. BUT, looking back, the memories I have of that crazy year are of our weekly Farm Crew dinners. We cooked up a spread of local food every week and enjoyed it outside every Friday night. Our farm crew is made up of some really inspiring folks and I look forward to spending time with them.

MS: What are some things that keep you going?
AA: Needing to support my family is what keeps me going year after year, but having a community of people to feed is what gets me out of bed every morning. We feed 110 families in the summer (plus regular farm stand customers, flower share members, and restaurants) and having a real-life face to feed makes It so much more meaningful when we are harvesting and planting.

MS: How has running a business impacted the way you view things?
AA: I have so much sympathy for small business owners of all types! It requires an incredible amount of sacrifice and hard work and I really respect the bravery of those who have forged their own path.

MS: How do you approach a work life balance?
AA: On an annual basis, I take a solid chunk of time to conduct a year-end analysis of the farm and our life: thinking critically about what worked well and what didn’t. It helps to prioritize decision making for the upcoming year. Goals for the family are blocked out ahead of time and then the farm calendar is built around that. On a weekly basis that means filling out the calendar first with family gatherings/appointments/etc, and building the farm schedule around that (once we factor in the weather). Our farm crew builds their own schedule, so there are a LOT of moving parts to our life, but it always works out. Every week. If I built the schedule any other way than the farm would take over our lives.

MS: How do you align your business decisions with your values each day?
AA: I’m constantly making decisions that reference back to a fairly simple list of values that I wrote before I started my own business. They are simple statements – “I value time spent with my family” or “I value clear communication” – and I map out small ways to make progress on each of them annually. When I’m faced with a business decision that I’m unsure of how to tackle, I usually ask myself a few simple questions, such as:
- Are there social repercussions for this decision? (ie, who are the PEOPLE affected)
- Does this move our farm environment towards a more sustainable future?
- Is this the best use of my time and money spent?
- Is this addressing a problem or a weak link in my business (I always prioritize these things)?
- Does this align with the future vision I have of the farm? Or, in other words, how will 80-year-old Allyson feel about this decision?

MS: What is something you wish people learned or knew more about in your industry?
AA: Farmers are incredibly underpaid, work long shifts (12+ hours a day, 7 days a week), and are incredibly skilled. I’m not sure where the stereotypes about farmers being “simple” came from, because every successful farmer I know has extraordinary skill and education. The reason less than 2% of our population farms is that it is very hard work.

MS: What was a challenge you did not expect to overcome that you did?
AA: This farm has broken us more times than I care to admit. Devastating storms, crop loss, there are so many examples of times when we didn’t think we would be able to bounce back. Almost every time we recovered through creative brainstorming. For example, when a hail storm wiped out our summer growing season and we didn’t have enough money to survive until the end of the year, we pulled out all of the plants, replanted, and launched our first winter CSA. We have a great community of people who support us, even through our most challenging times.

“I’m pretty proud of the life I’ve built for myself. It’s not easy for a woman to start and run a farm. It’s not easy for a mother to run a business. It’s not easy to constantly learn new skills so that I can continuously build our life from scratch. I always feel proud when I tackle projects that are meaningful, but challenging.”

MS: Do you have advice or encouragement for ways to support local?
AA: Start one meal at a time. Eating locally doesn’t need to mean canning tons of food and never visiting the grocery store. It can be so fun to pick out the ingredients for a farm-fresh meal and prepare something simple in your kitchen.

MS: Looking back on life, how have you or values shifted or refined?
AA: I’ve always had a clear set of values, but as I get older I’m learning how to slow down more and just soak it all in.

MS: What is your favorite location and why?
AA: Home. It will never be perfect, but I’ve built this space with my own two hands and filled it with my favorite people in the world.

“I’m pretty proud of the life I’ve built for myself. It’s not easy for a woman to start and run a farm. It’s not easy for a mother to run a business. It’s not easy to constantly learn new skills so that I can continuously build our life from scratch. I always feel proud when I tackle projects that are meaningful, but challenging.”


“To me, supporting local is about knowing the face behind a product. We try hard to be that face for the members of our farm, and to get to know the people who grow the food we eat. Our deepest relationships with food are with the people producing them.”

I interned and worked on a number of different farms (and different TYPES of farms) before making the leap to purchasing my own property. Farming requires lifelong dedication to education because there are constantly new things to learn: new pests and diseases, new technologies, new marketing techniques, new health and safety requirements and I still love spending the winters attending conferences, classes, and workshops. To qualify for a mortgage through the Farm Service Agency’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program I needed a degree in agriculture and 3 years of farm management experience. I applied for the program when I was 23 and finally found a tiny piece of land I could afford just after turning 24. It was FAR from a dream, but I was single and determined and have spent every waking hour and extra dollar transforming the property into what it is today.