Meet Our Members | February 2022
Name and Occupation: Ayn Whytemare
Business: Found Well Farm
Ayn Whytemare likes getting her hands in the soil, both potting and gardening. She finds it calming and hopeful.
“I have always felt more at home outdoors than inside with people,” she recalls. “When I was four, I gathered dandelion seeds and spread them in my mother’s vegetable garden because I thought it needed more flowers. “
“When I was nine, my mother gave me a 10’x10’ piece of her garden to grow things. It turned out better than her garden, and I was hooked. I’ve grown plants or had gardens everywhere I have lived, even in Manhattan.”
Ayn’s mother gardened, but her father grew up having to do farm chores and did not want to be a farmer. She says he was quite perplexed when she became one.
Ayn gardened for enjoyment until 2007, when she opened a greenhouse at another location a few miles away. When she inherited her family home in 2019, she moved the business there. Ayn works alone, but occasionally hires people to help with bigger projects.
“I planted my first bare-root trees here back when my father was still alive. While digging the holes, I discovered a round, stone-lined hole that looked like an old well; so I registered the name Found Well Farm with the Secretary of State. My father later informed me it was actually the original septic tank for the house.”
Ayn specializes in native New Hampshire plants. She grows straight species that have the greatest genetic diversity and therefore the greatest resilience in New Hampshire’s changing climate. She starts her annuals and perennials from seed, gathering as many local perennial seeds as possible herself. She brings in bare-root shrubs and trees from NH sources whenever possible. If they come from out of state, Ayn winters them over on her farm before selling them as zone-hardy.
“So many places talk about the necessity of growing native plants but so few places have actual native plants,” she says. “Most are improved versions of natives that are bred for looks, not for ecosystem compatibility.”
“My vegetable seedlings are certified organic,” Ayn continues. “I don’t certify the woody and perennial nursery plants because I reserve the right to treat a plant that I have been nursing along for years with whatever it takes if there is a pest or disease outbreak. Using organic and IPM methods first, however, means that is rarely necessary.”
Ayn is only open four weekends a year for walk-in sales, but you can always call for an appointment. Her regular customers come back year after year and tell her how well their plants are doing.
“Paying attention to the plants, being aware of how they are doing and adjusting what I can to meet their needs is what motivates me,” she proclaims. “Plants are more helpless than animals. It takes a different kind of sensibility to tend to them.”
“We just can’t continue throwing poison on everything the moment it doesn’t look perfect. We’re seeing the results of this in our water systems, our soils and even our own bodies. The last best chance we have to sequester carbon and stop the madness is to get as much organic matter in the soil as we can. Preventing climate change means we need to learn how to farm without using all the nasty chemicals.”
“Real sustainable farming not only takes care of the soil and the planet with carbon sequestration but makes sure there are working ecosystems on individual farms as well. Native pollinators, water filtration, and wildlife diversity are only some of what’s needed.”
“NOFA-NH membership pulls me through when I need to feel that I'm not alone in this venture or when I need to recharge my farming batteries. I’m addicted to farming. If I didn’t do it, I would go crazy -- but it’s beautiful addiction.”
You can reach Ayn at https://www.foundwellfarm.com or by phone at 603-228-1421.
—Interview and Article by Karl Johnson, Board President
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