Meet Our Members | January 2022
Name and Occupation: Seth Bent & Sarah Herr
Business: Mink Meadow Farm
Seth Bent and Sarah Herr have known each other for most of their lives. Seth’s father worked for the Etna fire department, and Sarah’s father was an emergency physician. That professional relationship grew into a friendship between families. Seth and Sarah became close friends while working together on a nearby farm and eventually fell in love.
Seth’s family has lived in Etna for three generations — making hay, raising animals, and producing maple sugar. Sarah’s family moved to Etna in the 1980s. They have a small sugaring operation and a large vegetable garden.
"I despised garden chores when I was a kid,” Sarah confesses.
“Now we love the work,” says Seth. “The physical nature of it, being outdoors, the relationship with the seasons and the sunlight, farming together every day. Growing food is the best job we can think of —working for ourselves and supporting our community.”
Seth began working on organic vegetable farms about 7 years ago, and Sarah has worked on organic farms in the area for almost 15 years. Seth will still work part time at another farm this season, but they’ll both be full-time at Mink Meadow by 2023.
“We started our own business in 2020 and got our organic certification in 2021,” Sarah explains. “We produce mixed organic vegetables with aspirations to include perennial fruits. We have close to twenty acres of pasture and hay fields and five acres in combined cash and cover crop production. Over the next few years, we’ll increase our crop production acreage.”
The name Mink Meadow was on the deed when Seth’s grandparents bought the farm from the Hayes family. Mink Brook runs through the middle of the farm, dividing the livestock pasture and 150 year-old barn from the fields. It provides irrigation, water for the cows, and a beautiful riparian habitat for native birds (and still a few mink). Laura Bridgman, the first deaf/blind American child to gain an education, spent her childhood here in the 1830s.
“When I first started working on farms in the area in the early 2000s,” Sarah relates, “the mentality was that every farm needed to grow every crop. Now, many nearby farms recognize that individual farm acreage, soils, and labor availability don’t permit all of us to grow everything as well as we could. Alliances between farms seem the best way forward so that we can all be profitable and still provide the food that our communities need.
“Our favorite farming activity is trouble-shooting together. Coming up with a solution alone can be daunting. Seth and I have different approaches, skill sets and experience, so we’re always more confident when we brainstorm. The most joy comes out of our combined creativity.“
“We’re committed to organic farming,” Seth says. “Feeding the soil is the most important aspect. We’re blessed with high organic matter, so our aim is not only to preserve it, but also improve it. We have a lot to learn.
“Aside from our love of the work and working together every day, the constant uplifting encouragement from our families, friends, and neighbors keeps us farming. We’re part of an amazing community.”
“We think organic farming is not only the sustainable path forward for agriculture,” Sarah declares, “but also essential for the sustainability of our land and business to use practices that are safe for our community. Along with other organic farmers, we’re trying to combat environmental change by practicing carbon sequestration, reducing our off-farm inputs, and — some day — incorporating rotational grazing.
“A big challenge that small organic farms are facing is price competition from large-scale organic agribusiness. NOFA-NH membership benefits us by providing us with resources and networking
When asked what people might be surprised to learn about them, Sarah adds with a big smile, “It won’t come as a surprise to friends and family, but we’re completely obsessed with our cat.”
—Interview and Article by Karl Johnson, Board President
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