Name: Charlotte Ross
Found at: West End Farmer's Market (Hartford)
What did you do before starting Sweet Acre Farm?
I worked in an office in Boston for two years with health care pension and sealed windows. [My husband] Jonathan and I decided to quit city life and apprentice for a full season on an organic farm in Maine.
What was it that you loved most about your previous career and how did it help with what you're doing now?
It was more about what I disliked about my previous career that inspired me to make the change. At the end of the day I was frazzled by all the multitasking and my butt hurt from sitting on it all day long. It felt silly to have to extend my already long days just to fit in some fresh air and exercise. So, long story short, now my whole life is fresh air and exercise. Talk about living in extremes.
Why a farm and why now?
To me, it feels like "walking the walk" in terms of social and ecological issues that I feel strongly about, including climate change and food justice.
What's the business climate like in the area for young entrepreneurs?
I can only really speak to the agriculture business climate, which I feel is very dynamic and exciting, and has a lot of support right now in Connecticut. We have found the community of farmers here to be open, and incredibly helpful to new farmers. We have also found that Connecticut consumers are looking for local healthful food from people they can trust.
What's it like to farm with your husband Jonathan Janeway?
Is it a joy or a burden to always be together? A joy! He's such a nice guy!
The inexpensive product you can't live without?
Cheap sunglasses that never cost more than ten dollars. I'm like a mole without them.
Biggest misconceptions people have about fresh produce and farming?
That a type of farming can be trusted across the board. For instance, "local" can still involve chemicals, and "organic" can still mean monoculture which, in my opinion, are both ecologically irresponsible agriculture practices. People should get to know their farmer and get involved in the conversation about how, where, and by whom their food is grown. You put it in your body, so it's important to know those things!
What's your favorite vegetable and the ideal way to eat it?
New potatoes, sauteed or roasted with olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and sage.
If you're in the kitchen, what are you cooking up to from the field or the farm?
Whatever there's too much of at that point in the season. Creativity is key.
What do you absolutely have to have on-hand when having friends over?
Cold beer, red wine or whiskey.
The character trait you find most attractive in others?
What does it mean to your farm to be involved in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?
Signing-up for a CSA is one of the best ways to support your farmer. Just as the produce from a farm is seasonal, so is the income. Buying your vegetables in advance by buying a farm share in January of February helps put money in the hands of the farmer at a critical time in their season, when seeds, soil amendments, and infinite other operational necessities need to be purchased in order to have a bountiful season. We enjoy the relationship we have with our CSA members that results from seeing them on a more regular basis at market and on the farm.