Meet Our Members | November 2023
Name: Kathleen Dunn Jacobs & David Miller
Business: Grounding Stone Farm
NOFA-NH members take up farming for a myriad of reasons -- some for the lifestyle, some to follow family tradition, and some for the fresh produce. Kathleen Dunn Jacobs and David Miller took it up to protect land from development.
“We purchased the farm next door to prevent the land from being developed and to continue the 40-year legacy of organic blueberry farming on the property,” Kathleen explains. “We knew the farm was being considered for development; and the owner, Peter Russell, gave us first dibs on purchasing the orchard. We just couldn’t allow losing the beautiful orchard next to our home, so it was an easy decision to buy the property.”
David grew up in Nashua and Kathleen in Wilbraham, Massachusetts. David is a mechanical engineer who studied mechanical engineering at UNH and now works in the electric vehicle industry. Kathleen has an MFA in painting and critical art theory. Neither grew up on a farm, and both have full time day jobs in addition to taking care of their organic blueberry farm.
“We learned farming from Peter, who taught us how to keep up the orchard,” David recalls. We also took many classes offered by NOFA, adult education and online. It’s been almost 8 years that we’ve been farming in Hopkinton. We own 13 acres including a half-acre of blueberry orchards.”
“Peter called his farm “Russell’s Blueberries,” Kathleen adds. “We needed to re-name the farm so that it reflected us as the new owners. When we first purchased the farm, we had a conversation about how the energy of the land was very beautiful, happy, and spiritual. Peter Russell asked me if I believed in that spiritual stuff, and I replied that I absolutely did! He walked me out to a very large stone in the field between the two orchards and told me to stand on that flat stone on the ground whenever either of us is troubled. So, we named the farm Grounding Stone Farm.”
“It seems like the perfect name since it relates to the process of making art and how it can help to ground all of us in our lives,” she continues. “It’s the perfect place for my art studio. My work is in response to our changing environment, and my subject matter has always been painting the endangered landscape. The farm also provides plenty of tranquility and inspiration for my work.”
David and Kathleen grow Certified Organic Blueberries. They believe that farming organically is the most important aspect of farming.
“It’s important for us to keep the orchard organic and pesticide free,” David states. “We both have family members with Parkinson’s disease, which has recently been discovered to be caused from ingesting harmful pesticides sprayed on food and leached into drinking water.”
“Our food system is broken, and conventional farming is causing illness in our country,” he continues. “We want to keep our blueberries safe to eat. They’re a super food with many antioxidants that combat many types of illness. We see more and more people coming here specifically for safe, organically-grown berries,”
Kathleen concurs. “We think people are becoming more aware that healthy growing methods are essential for everyone’s survival and good health. We’re optimistic about small organic farms increasing as time goes on.”
“There are, however, several challenges,” David says. “The most recent is the major increase in the cost of supplies; but climate change is the greatest issue impacting growers.”
“Every year we face new challenges that impact the crop. Last Spring it was the late Spring freeze that killed our early blossoming berries, and last summer the rain kept the berries that did arrive from ripening at a consistent rate. Everything was slow and the season was very short. Our crop was half of the previous year due to ongoing weather changes.”
“Kathleen and I are fortunate to have day jobs and lucky that our farm is a labor of love for us and not our main income source.”
“We both love the pruning process that takes place in late winter and early spring,” Kathleen affirms. “It gets us outdoors and is a very meditative process that allows us to know each blueberry bush in the orchard. And we love knowing we’re offering safe and delicious blueberries for our local community. We have lots of nice memories and look forward to seeing our customers again each summer.”
“NOFA is an amazing asset for farmers that not only educates them with updated information about pests and growing processes, but lobbies in Washington on behalf of all organic framers,” she contends. “NOFA-NH is helping to keep our food system safe and trying to make permanent change on behalf of all of us. We’ve learned a lot from NOFA and are proud to support NOFA-NH’s mission as much as we can.”
“Conventional farmers need to stop using harmful pesticides and use natural pesticide-free methods. David is fanatical about getting the soil PH right for growing berries, and he gets it perfect every year.”
Grounding Stone Farm is located at 289 Maple Street in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. It’s open daily each year from early-July to mid-August for pick-your-own and pre-order blueberries. Email David or Kathleen at email@example.com for details.
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