June Community Member Spotlight: Kaisa Jarrell
As the farming season begins, Green Wagon Farm is preparing for another season of providing fresh, locally grown, and accessible produce to our community. Since 1994, Green Wagon Farm, a family-farm based in Surry and Keene, NH, has put community and quality produce first.
Green Wagon Farm, now in its 29th season, is run by father-daughter duo Bill and Kaisa Jarrell, as well as a small team of dedicated staff members. In its first year of operation, Kaisa was four years old. She has had the unique experience of growing along the farm, from taking on farm chores as a kid, to now managing the farm.
On her childhood, Kaisa reflects on growing up in the greenhouse. She describes her life as being season oriented, with much time spent outside appreciating nature and growing her own food. In 2012, when Kaisa graduated college she pursued a path away from the farm, focusing on photography, specifically wedding photography and planning.
She notes that while in college, her graphic design professors noted that her projects always reflected an element of nature and her deep connection to farming. Kaisa ultimately decided to return to Keene, never missing a season at the farm which she has grown up with.
Kaisa smiles in the greenhouse. Image Credit: Kaisa Jarrell
Kaisa’s connection to Green Wagon Farm goes beyond home and family ties, she feels deeply connected to the land itself. She notes that conservation practices are crucial to taking care of the soil and land, she adds,
“Soil health is always number one. Soil is everything, it is the farm’s life blood”.
Green Wagon Farm prioritizes sustainable stewardship of their soil through soil testing and cover cropping to bolster soil health. Cover crops on the farm include peas, oats, and winter rye, replenishing organic matter and nutrients to soil, as well as protecting soil from erosion. Green Wagon Farm has also collaborated with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) for pollinator plantings to support beneficial insects on the farm. Kaisa shares the joy she finds in seeing bees and beneficial pollinators dance among the goldenrod and other plantings that bloom each season.
In addition to pollinator plantings, Green Wagon Farm has been the recipient of the Monadnock Food Co-op Farm Fund twice. The farm fund is a grant opportunity to support local farmers in increasing sustainable food production and wholesale sales to contribute to a thriving local farm economy. The grant is a collaboration between CCCD and the Monadnock Food Co-op. Through this program, Green Wagon Farm plans to improve the energy efficiency of their produce storage, utilizing coolbot technology which lowers the temperature of an in-window air conditioning unit, to create a new walk-in cooler. Their past farm fund project improved the efficiency of their harvest.
Green Wagon Farm Stand. Image Credit: Kaisa Jarrell
In addition to transforming the efficiency of their storage, Green Wagon Farm has been busy with the installation of new greenhouses on the farm.While keeping up with crops and new projects, Kaisa has still found time to prioritize the health of the community she grew up in and feels deeply connected to.
As businesses throughout the region learned how to adjust during the Covid-19 pandemic, Green Wagon Farm saw the pandemic as a great opportunity to participate in the Granite State Market Match Program.The Granite State Market Match (GSMM) program allows SNAP recipients to double the value of their benefits when shopping at participating farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, and farm stands in New Hampshire. CCCD is the regional lead for offering GSMM in the Monadnock Region.
GSMM provides a dollar-for-dollar match, for example, SNAP recipients who spend $10 in SNAP benefits at a farm stand, receive an additional $10 to spend on fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruit! GSMM provides access to affordable, locally grown produce, while providing economic benefits to local farms. This ultimately builds farm viability throughout our region. Through the program, participating farmers and vendors are able to expand their customer base, while making their produce more accessible to the community.
When asked why Green Wagon Farm chose to participate in the GSMM program, Kaisa noted,
“Especially in 2020, it was obvious that the pandemic hit certain demographics harder than others. We wanted to make our produce more accessible to low-income community members. The way I see it, why wouldn’t you want to take care of people who are in the same community”.
To Kaisa, doing good for the community is a no-brainer. As someone who has grown up in this region, Kaisa sees the community as an extension of her family. Kaisa added,
“We have always donated excess produce to The Community Kitchen and other community organizations, because why wouldn’t you?”.
Through the GSMM program, all produce sold at Green Wagon Farm’s stand, located on Court Street in Keene, is SNAP eligible. With the exception of honey and flowers, SNAP recipients can double their dollars on fruit and vegetables.
Customers shop at Green Wagon Farm Stand. Image Credit: Kaisa Jarrell
When asked about the experience of working alongside her family, Kaisa expresses immense gratitude. She explains that working with family feels like a continuation of how she grew up, especially when her brother and his children visit, bringing another generation of Jarrell’s onto the farm.Working with family has its expected challenges, but Kaisa laughs and describes it as wonderful.
To say that farming is not easy, is perhaps the understatement of the century. With unpredictable seasons and extreme weather events becoming more common, Kaisa reflected on Green Wagon Farm’s previous season as especially difficult. With the constant rain and flooding, Kaisa notes that the community makes it all worthwhile. Kaisa reflected,
“I really love Keene, I love the Keene community so much. We have such great customers, who are loyal and supportive. Those are the people that make it all worthwhile, even on the most terrible days”.
Kaisa notes that in the thick of the growing season, when the weather is hot, and the season is labor intensive, she finds motivation in her customers. Kaisa adds,
“The people who have been coming to our farm stand for years, those are the people that always lift my spirits on really tough days”.
Street View of Green Wagon Farm Stand on Court St. in Keene. Image Credit: Kaisa Jarrell
Kaisa notes that the best way to support Green Wagon Farms work is to stop by the farm stand, or to purchase their produce at the Monadnock Food Co-op. This season, Green Wagon Farm’s stand opens Mid-June, and will be open on Monday through Friday 9:00AM-6:00PM, Saturday 9:00AM-5:00PM, and Sunday 10:00AM-2:00PM. Stay up to date on Green Wagon Farm’s facebook, here! Green Wagon Farm is also on Instagram: @thegreenwagonfarm
Learn more about Green Wagon Farm, here!