Meet Our Members | December 2021
Name and Occupation: Kevin and Jen French
Business: Full Moon Farm
Readers might be surprised to learn that neither Kevin nor Jen French ever planned to be farmers. Kevin grew up in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire on his family’s farm, and Jen grew up in upstate New York and Vermont.
“Our paths crossed locally, and the rest is history,” Jen quips. “We fell into farming in 1998 when we bought our beautiful old farmhouse and 38 acres of land in Wolfeboro. At first, it was hobby farming, but it became more serious as we had more time. We have now been farming here for 20 years.”
“We took our time coming up with a name,” Kevin adds. “Eventually Jen realized that so much happened here under a full moon — planting, harvesting, nighttime bonfires and sledding parties. Our favorite farm memories are the fun we had raising our three sons here — haying, sugaring, sledding, chasing chickens and eating produce right out of the field.”
“We chose to specialize in flowers and strawberries,” Jen states. “We have always grown our own patch of strawberries and sold any extra by the roadside. They grow fantastically here and people scoop them up, so eventually we expanded to our current operation of three ¼ acre fields in rotation producing around 3,000 pounds per year.”
“We grow strawberries a little differently,” Kevin explains. “Since we refuse to use herbicides or pesticides, we have to be creative and manage our ecosystem carefully. We plant into biodegradable plastic mulch for weed control and lay landscape fabric between the rows to reduce tillage. Daughter plants are set by hand, and we keep the edges of the fields mowed to reduce insect pressure.”
“We have experimented with numerous strawberry varieties, but the two that we currently produce are both late varieties – Allstar and Jewel. We’re in Zone 5A, so we grow what grows well here.
“When we decided to grow the farm, Jen recounts, “flowers were an easy choice since Kevin has always loved them. We grow all of our flowers right on the farm and forage locally for design materials. Right now we have about 100 varieties, but my favorites are poppies, snapdragons and peonies. We host flower-arranging classes on Sundays to use up any leftover flowers, and we dry flowers to make dried wreaths. We also have quite a few summer people who subscribe to our weekly delivery service.”
Kevin and Jen are both passionate about preserving the ecosystem and producing top quality organic produce.
“We do a lot of it by observation,” Kevin continues. “We regularly mow the areas around our gardens and high tunnels, but we keep our fields natural to attract the local insects away from the gardens. We use very few chemicals, and we’re very careful about bringing anything onto the farm from the outside to minimize outside pests.”
“You can’t kill everything, so you have to accept that you’ll have some pests. We keep a lot of birds around and constantly keep our eyes open for insect eggs, bugs and aphids. We try to work with the environment—not manipulate it.”
“Small organic farmers produce the freshest, high quality, local produce. We can contribute toward environmental change by staying true to sustainable principals and educating our customers about their importance. The greatest challenge small organic farmers face is pest and disease issues from large non-organic farms.”
Jen says NOFA-NH membership benefits them in so many ways. “It gives us access to cost effective organic materials, amendments and education. It also allows us to communicate and collaborate with like-minded farmers.”
—Interview and Article by Karl Johnson, Board President
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