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Brown Farm

Tradition doesn't mean that nothing changes- it just means gives the opportunity to add to what has already been- Just what Brown Farm is doing.

Jenna moves barefoot through her rows of flowers at Brown Farm in Scotland where they have been tending the land since 2017. But they were not the first. The property has been an established farm (complete with farmhouse) since the 1700s and producing food for families and community, but Jenna, John and their 2 kids have brought their own unique flavor to the property. Yes the farmhouse still stands, and other structures of it’s time, but over on the side you see solar panels, on the edge of one row you see a giant kiln for firing pottery, and two high tunnels extended their growing season into the colder months.

Though the farm has been growing veggies for years, Jenna has recently been feeling the call of flowers in the field. She walks among sunflowers, snap dragons, rudbeckias, and cosmos, picking as she goes to make bouquets she’ll sell at the farmers market and Willimantic Co-op. Her daughter follows her footsteps suggesting which flowers to pick (“the teddy bear sunflowers are ready!”) and chatting about how she loves to pick the berries in the neighboring field.

Meanwhile, John talks about the late summer evenings where they gather friends to fire pottery in their kiln. It’s an all-night event as they feed the wood burning kiln to keep the heat up, but music, food, and good company make it more of a celebration for the local artists.

With all these new additions they sound like the modern edge farm (even 3-d printing parts for their new seeder), but Jenna and John appreciate the tools they have that aren’t new-fangled and fancy. The root cellar built in the 70s keeps their veggies cooler in the hotter days of summer, repurposed barrels and heavy duty bins are salvaged and put to use to hold soil and water, woven baskets (found and thrifted) hold parts, vegetables, and keep systems organized. Even the outhouse- one which was built by the previous owner- is preferred to the flushing house toilet.

That is what makes this farm beautiful. The marriage of many things into a whole and the preservation of what has come before. Though the property and farm is uniquely their family’s, it is also uniquely the farm of their predecessor, Sally Pappenheimer, and that of the generations of Browns that the farm is named after as their stone walls guide the sheep grazing the property.

And as Jenna adds her new bouquets into the offerings that she brings to the community, yet again they are repurposing and remaking the farm to be uniquely theirs. They will keep the food that feeds the community and the structures and celebrations on their farm that nourish friends and neighbors, but the flowers expand on all this. Though less bunches of kale might be found at their stand at the Willimantic Saturday Farmers Market, the fields are producing a new product- one that brings joy and wellness to the soul. And that addition sounds like it fits just right for this barefoot farmer in Scotland.

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