Hannah Harwood Doyle started working at JSF last Spring with an eye for organization, and a love of modern farming technique. Today she is the Home Farm Operations Manager , and organizes our staff on their weekly tasks in the hoophouses, washpack barn, chicken house, and more. She also has a great voice to her writing, so rather than summarize her prose, here it is, straight from the source.
Name : Hannah Harwood Doyle
Most interesting job experience(s) before JSF?
Hannah: I've worked on six (whoa! I just counted) other vegetable/diversified farms in New England, and worked for UVM Extension for a few years doing agricultural research and outreach. But probably my most *interesting* job was on an island research station in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick. I was hired as a cook and a field researcher, and ended up taking on all kinds of jobs on the island over the course of two field seasons. I got to spend whole days reaching my arm into the burrows of storm petrels (seabirds) to pull them out and band them/record demographic information, trap snowshoe hares, collect blood samples from herring gulls, mist-net songbirds and fit them with homemade radio harnesses, and videotape petrel fledglings as they navigated their way through a maze to test cognitive function.
Interesting hobby or skill?
Hannah: I know a lot of jokes. I love walking on stilts. I collect animal skulls. I used to be an avid long-distance hiker, and completed the AT in 2010.
What's up with your family?
Hannah: I grew up in Tunbridge with two brothers. Our family always grew a lot of our own food and spent the majority of our time outside, and I never really contemplated that there might be another way to go about it. I now live in the middle of nowhere, Bakersfield, with my husband John (a sugarmaker / fence contractor) a mischievous border collie, three goats (Peanut, Butter, and Jelly), new piglets, and a bunch of chickens.
What's your favorite job on the farm?
Hannah: I'll tell you my three favorite jobs at JSF, probably in this very order:
Trellising and pruning tomatoes. Transplanting seedlings. Setting up livestock grazing paddocks.
What's your favorite place to work on the farm?
Hannah: I love the home farm. I like the challenge of washpack (coordinating a crew of fun-loving and supportive people, utilizing our staff's strengths, and juggling the ever-shifting wholesale/CSA/farmstand needs). I like each of our 9 hoophouses (but I especially love Thelma and Louise, our powerhouse ladies). I like checking in on the laying hens. And I like doing a little of everything, every day. Sometimes I really like putting my head down and completing a task on my own, turning my brain off just to trellis! weed! plant!-- but honestly my favorite part of JSF is the crew of people I get to work with every day.
What do you do with your weekends?
Hannah: I work on my own little farmstead. I'm usually clearing land, planting and working in my garden, moving and caring for animals, building and fixing things, and plugging away on firewood. I also help my husband with his business's bookkeeping, and sometimes get wrangled into building fences with him. Every once in a while, I sit on a sunny porch with a friend and cocktail in hand, or I escape to the top of a mountain and howl with joy.
What's your favorite vegetable?
Hannah: Beets. I like how versatile they are-- you can eat the tops or the roots. They're delicious raw, sauteed, baked, or boiled. And they're not showy. They're understated, earthy, kind of dull-- until you wash them off, slice them open, and then taste them. "The beet is the most intense of vegetables," wrote Tom Robbins, "The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies. ... The lesson of the beet, then is this: hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown."