Russo's Roots in Canterbury
First generation certified organic farmers making a lasting impact in the Quiet Corner for farmers (and customers) all over the state!
As you drive down North Society Road in Canterbury, you know that you are in the rural part of the state. Trees and fields are dotted with structures that indicate habitation and a subtle taming of the land to serve the population there. Russo’s Roots is a shining example of that subtilty as the 26 acre farm shows up on the roadside with flashes of green flourishing in the mid-summer days. Libby and James, the farmers/owners of the property, have carefully been building the land to be that gentle nod to domestication for the past 8 years.
This fruit and vegetable farm has slowly been reclaimed from its sweeping grassy fields to be something more productive- rows of Swiss chard, tomatoes, melons, and squash. Its old hen houses from the 1930’s reworked and recovered to turn into a gathering place for CSA customers and shoppers for their Saturday farmstand. It’s a place that has been gently shaped into life and energy by Libby and James- first generation farmers that have come to make the Quiet Corner their home.
But home is a very specific type of place. For them that means growing their food as certified organic- keeping in mind the health of the soil and the quality of the food they are putting in the bodies of themselves and their neighbors. It means welcoming beehives onto their land to pollinate each fruiting plant- whether it is cultivated or not. It means a place with good food: not just the generic romaine that anyone can find in the grocery store, but specialty Italian radicchio- tardivo di treviso that is harvested after a couple frosts then forced in the dark of their barn to make the finished product sweet yet crisp.
Home also means community- one where they connect with CSA customers for over 20
weeks in the warmer months. They invite them into their bounty, try to make their delicious food accessible by accepting EBT or SNAP. They share recipes, and most importantly they share themselves. James and Libby aren’t loud outgoing folks- they are strong quiet folk, but despite that, are people you instantly want to get to know. Whether it’s Libby at the Willimantic Farmers Market, or James interacting with customers at on-farm pick up, the ready smiles and willingness to give their time (a farmer’s most precious commodity) seems to reflect the same attitude of the plants they grow. They are rooted, tamed bits of nature willing to share what they produce.
And their community extends to other farmers. They know first-hand what it’s like to be the first in their family to farm, to struggle to find land to start a business on. They haven’t just gone through those struggles, they choose to keep pondering those difficulties for the sake of those farming in their community and for the sake of farmers to come. They know what it’s like to count pennies (as no one goes into farming to become rich), so they work with other community members to find ways to help people that struggle to afford their beautiful fresh vegetables.
With the same quiet energy in which they plant their seeds and work the land to be subdued into something that can nurture, they plant their efforts to make the community healthier and well fed, to help make the state one that is ready and willing to accept new farmers on the land to feed its people. They are farmers in the truest meaning- someone who works not just for themselves, but on the behalf of others, to help everything grow.