The Farmers

It takes a great team to make NSO run smoothly. Our farm staff spends time working in the fields, in the barn cleaning and packaging produce or CSA shares, and helping out at farmers' markets. Many of our helpers are young people who want to learn, hands-on, about sustainable farming before they go off to start their own projects. Meet this year's "crop" of farmers below!

Do you want to get your hands dirty? Check here for staff openings.

This is (most of) our awesome 2018 team! 

Back, L to R: Hope, Jacqueline, Neil, Devin, Joseph, Lena

Front, L to R: Paige, Kevin, Hannah, Josh

Not pictured: Farmers Lisa and Ike, and our great (and very important!) part-time helpers: Allison, Ezra, Jason, Laura, Laurie, Kelly, Shannon, Deb, and Kate.

Devin joins the NSO team after graduating from Juniata College in May with a Biology major and Spanish minor, and will be working on the farm as he applies to medical school.

Devin is new to the world of farming, but is excited to learn and contribute to NSO’s mission to provide sustainable, locally grown food.

Devin loves to travel and study. Originally from central Kansas, he's been lucky enough to study in Mexico, Guatemala, and Spain and perform with his college choir in Ireland and Vietnam. His hobbies include reading, listening to podcasts, playing board games, singing and playing music, disc golf, Ultimate, and (sometimes) running.


This is Hannah's first season at NSO and she is excited to see what it will bring.
Hannah recently graduated from Juniata College in central PA with a degree in biology and a minor in Spanish. She is extremely interested in the nutritional aspects of agriculture and hope to use the knowledge she gains at NSO in a future career in healthcare.
Hannah has never worked on a farm before (let alone had a successful garden at home) so this should be an eventful year full of learning for her!
In addition to agriculture and nutrition, Hannah enjoy the outdoors, hiking, biking, swimming, yoga, running, etc. as well as reading and playing music. She is hoping that this season at NSO will teach her a lot and enable her to eat tons of delicious fruits and veggies (editor's note: we know this last bit will be true for sure!)
This is Hope’s first season at NSO. She is a recent convert to farming after working for several years as a research ecologist at Villanova University studying peatlands in Northern Alberta. She is very excited to be here and wants to taste all of the apple varieties. 
Hope enjoys country music (especially songs about tractors), hiking, and thrift stores.

Ike grew up gardening, and at a young age was selling his vegetables at a tailgate market near his home. As a teen, he worked for a small local orchard that grew dwarf trellised trees. That experience inspired his goal to have his own orchard someday.

Ike graduated from Penn State and has become well known in this area for his expertise in growing vinifera wine grapes on innovative trellis systems and for his knowledge and experience growing and breeding unique fruits and vegetables. He has taught classes at Longwood Gardens, and is a speaker at various seminars and conferences. He has hosted several large grower meetings at the farm.

Ike spends his "leisure" time reading, cooking, and learning more about the fruit and vegetable growing industry. His "hobby" is developing new varieties of fruits and vegetables - they are his babies!

From fellow orchardist Ed Fackler: "You're the only person I've ever met who had apples shooting out of your fingertips like fireballs."

Jacqueline is joining the NSO crew after several years of working as a barista in Baltimore and Philly. 

She has a degree in Anthropology from the University of North Texas where she focused her studies on how people utilize their environment for food systems, global commodities, and the possibilities for sustainable agriculture. 

Jacqueline came to NSO hoping to get hands-on experience in order to continue working in agriculture. She enjoys learning about all kinds of plants, especially the ones you can eat, and wants to make sure everyone gets the nutritious food they truly deserve.

This is Joseph's first season at North Star Orchard and he's looking forward to working in the orchard, the veggie garden, and helping out wherever he can. His previous farm experience was working during the summers at small vegetable and Aronia farm in Door County Wisconsin.

Joseph graduated in 2017 with a degree in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. He plans on continuing his education at some point in the future; going back to school to earn a masters degree in secondary education and obtaining a teaching license. 

When not working on the farm, Joseph enjoys running, listening to a wide variety of podcasts, reading & discussing comic books, and rewatching his favorite TV shows over and over again. 
-- "...and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." - Gandalf

Josh continues with us for a 5th year in 2018 and helps out primarily in the orchard, where he quickly becomes camoflaged by the fruit trees as he works. He also helps out at farmers' markets and with special events on the farm.

In the past Josh worked at another veggie CSA farm in Wisconsin, as well as a tree nursery. Josh earned two bachelors degrees in forestry and loves hunting and fishing or just wandering through the woods and spending time on the water.

Other interests include playing board games, reading, home-brewing wines, raising a small flock of chickens, and helping run his family’s small maple syrup operation. Josh plans to use his varied farming experience to help plan his future homestead.

Kelly will be with us for a 5th season at NSO in 2018, and she enjoys helping with pretty much everything that we have going on at the farm, as well as helping at our stand at the West Chester Growers' Market or Phoenixville Farmers' Market.

After a career in horticulture working with native plants, she is currently pursuing a degree in environmental science and restoration ecology at St. Joseph’s University, and is interested in the place of sustainable agriculture in the conservation and restoration of our environment.

With the busy life of a college student, this mother of two teens only has time to help out on the farm part-time, but she is a very valuable member of our team whenever she is here!

Kevin is in his fourth season at NSO in 2018, where he is in charge of the garden's vegetable production. He also helps staff various farmers' market and the CSA pickup.

Previously, he spent three and a half years living in Cameroon and Mozambique where he worked with coffee and cashew producers to improve their yields and incomes. He has alos previously worked in flower production, laboratory research and international development. 

After work you’ll probably find him reading or listening to a podcast, usually with a cup of coffee nearby.

Laura has been helping at NSO part-time for several years, and is our Marketing Coordinator for the farm store.

You'll find Laura at farmers' markets (Emmaus Farmers' Market and/or the West Chester Growers' Market), as well as at the farm store, where she happily guides customers to the best varieties of the day and loves to talk cooking tips, tricks, and recipes.

Laura's energy and enthusiasm are invaluable in developing the farm store's product line, cooking classes, and marketing outreach.

The mother of two, Laura spends her time away from the farm knitting, cooking, gardening, and participating in the Society of Creative Anachronisms.

Laurie will be with us for a fourth season in 2018 as a part-time helper, focusing her efforts to clean the farm's veggies so they're beautifully ready for the CSA and at farmers' markets.

A homeschooling mom of three avid baseball/softball players, Laurie spends most of her farm time in the washroom, where she helps to make the veggies picture-perfect for the CSA and markets. She is also an experienced biologist and educator, and is focused on development and operation of the farm's educational programming for children.

In her free time, Laurie enjoys reading, cooking, hiking, and spending time up at her cabin in the mountains of central PA.

Lena continues for her third season as a full-time helper in 2018. She is a self-taught avid home gardener and seed saving enthusiast who has great interests in self-sufficiency, horticulture/agriculture/botany, sustainability, permaculture, plant propagation, breeding/genetics, and animal husbandry.

Lena plans to "learn everything I possibly can while working for NSO. I'd like have a career in agriculture. Eventually, I hope to start a farm-based business on my own homestead."

When she's not farming, Lena enjoys rockhounding/geology (collecting gemstones and minerals,) foraging, hiking, reading, cooking, raising chickens, plus making art & music.

Lisa had no farming background other than helping in her parent's garden (which she did not enjoy so much), but discovered she enjoyed working on the student farm at Penn State, after which she decided to pursue a degree in agriculture.

Lisa keeps busy marketing the farm's products, and facilitating other helpers' efforts of managing the CSA, website/email activities, and the other 'back-end' more invisible work of making a business run.

She homeschooled her son Jay from k through 12, and is now homeschooling herself in more artistic pursuits. In her time off, you'll find her up to her elbows in messy and colorful acrylics and other gooey mediums.

I started working at NSO because I felt like I was going to get stuck working factory production jobs for the rest of my life, so I decided to try to change my life and become a farmer, which I think I will enjoy and derive more satisfaction from. I've been a home gardener for almost 10 years so I already have a love of growing vegetables. And I like to try cooking all different kinds of recipes from whatever type of produce I can grow or get at the farmers market or now get from work! I really like old and foreign movies(anything on the filmstruck app) and reading about history and class struggle. 

My favorite job on the farm so far has been harvesting veggies and I've been learning how to drive a tractor. 

Paige will be returning for her third non-consecutive season at NSO this year, after working on farms in Washington state, New Zealand, and Alaska. While her favorite task is thinning Asian pears, she will also be in charge of greenhouse and seeding operations in 2018.

She has worked as a server, barista, snowboard instructor, bartender, and field hockey coach as well. Small-scale farming allows her to pursue lifelong goals of getting outside, engaging in local economies, and eating incredibly well.  

With a degree in Nutrition & Food Science from the University of Vermont, Paige enjoys learning about all things related to food culture and sustainable systems. She is an avid reader, cook, poet, fermenter, and hiker.

Sarah has joined NSO part-time as our Social Media Manager. She has a degree in Psychology with a minor in Biology, and has worked for various search engines fine-tuning advertisements. Sarah plans to utilize her social media knowledge with her years of online advertising experience to help keep NSO up to date on all of the major social networks. 

Growing food in an earth friendly manner, and sharing that experience with her children, is one of Sarah's passions. She loves starting plants from seed and watching them grow and produce food for her family. 

When Sarah isn't working, she can be found volunteering at her children's schools or transporting them to a wide variety of sports. She and her family love to travel and experience nature in as many place as possible. Sarah also enjoys cooking vegan and food-allergy friendly meals, reading, crafting,listening to music and being obsessed with her cats.

Shannon has been a helper at NSO for many years. Starting out for several years as a full-time farm helper, she is now a part-time farmers' market helper.

Shannon is usually seen at the Oakmont Farmers' Market and Emmaus Farmers' Market, where around Halloween she'll show up in one of any number of amazing and fun costumes!

Shannon's training as a food anthropologist has taken her on travels throughout Europe and the US on the quest for good food. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Food Culture and Communications at L'Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche in Colorno in Italy.

In her spare time, Shannon enjoys crochet, bargain-shopping at second-hand stores, and watching and listening to pretty much any and all musicals!