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.

Meet the great farmers growing your food!

Back, L to R: Kyra, Alan, Josh, Kevin, Skylar, Ezra, Christine

Front, L to R: Katiana, Angela, Lena (kneeling), Stephanie (kneeling), Laurie, Lisa

Not pictured: Farmer Ike (he was taking the picture!)

Alan joins the gang at NSO in the spring of 2017. He'll be involved in all kinds of farm activities, but is most interested in getting his hands on some of the very unique varieties of fruits the farm has to offer.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Alan has spent the past three years working on Michigan State University affiliated farms across 'the mitten' and its upper penninsula. His interest in agriculture has been spurred by his love of the outdoors and his adoration of all things edible.

While he has convinced himself that farming and questing for food are full-time occupations in and of themselves, he is known to steal away to enjoy some music, go for a swim, or write a letter.

Angela Returns for a second year with NSO in 2017, and will continue to be a big help in all phases of vegetable gardening and the CSA.

She has experience working at a CSA farm from her time at Rutgers University. Her favorite part was interacting with the share holders every week and teaching them about the different produce they were receiving. 

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Plant Science, and joins our crew to further her hands-on farming experience. 

When not out in the field she enjoys indoor hobbies like knitting, crocheting, sewing and baking. 

Spring 2017 will mark Christine's first season  with NSO. Growing up visiting farms and picking apples in the fall wasn't enough to satisfy her curiousity. Wanting to know the how's and what's before reaping the rewards has led Christine to a path of discovery; her latest stint involving working on a farm in the Pacific Northwest.
Loving all things nature related, her past work experiences have included floral design, grounds keeping at a historic estate/arboretum and gardening at a public garden. She's hoping to expand her horticultural knowledge and has her eyes set on going into landscape architecture....or urban gardening......or farming.
When she's not working outside, Christine can be found playing guitar, reading and sketching (rarely all at the same time). She's also working on her certification to become a master herbalist. 

Ezra is returning to the farm in 2017 for his first full season, having joined NSO halfway through the 2016 season. Depending on the day's tasks, you may find him helping in the vegetable garden, picking apples or pears in the orchard, or stacking fruit in the coolers. He also helps at weekend farmers' markets and with CSA deliveries. 

Ezra recently earned a Master of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He is interested in figuring out ways to improve healthy local food access for underserved communities, specifically in Philadelphia. Working at NSO allows him to see the foundations of food production and gives him the chance to further his own understanding of sustainable agriculture. 

When not on the farm Ezra enjoys hiking, camping, seeing live music, writing, and playing with his Beagle, Homer.

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."

Josh continues with us for a 4th year in 2017 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.

Katiana joins the NSO team fairly late in spring of 2017, after she graduates college with her bachelors in Human Services. She is excited to learn more about growing vegetables and working on a larger farm/orchard. Katiana has past experiences working with food through her internship on a small urban farm in Boston and through her work in a busy vegan restaurant. Her favorite parts of these two experiences was seeing the joys and stories that this wholesome food could provok for people.

Katiana is looking forward to her new journey in Pennsylvania after having lived in Maine, Washington, and Massachusetts. While she is not on the farm, Katiana enjoys reading, knitting, and baking bread!

Kelly will be with us for a 4th season at NSO in 2017, 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.

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 third season at NSO in 2017, 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 a Marketing Coordinator.

You 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 is with us for a third season 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 returns fulltime in 2017 after joining NSO mid-season in 2016. 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.

Although she is the farm's Asian pear thinning expert, her time at this point tends to be more occupied with marketing the farm's products, and facilitating other helpers' efforts of managing the CSA, website/email activities, and other 'back-end' work.

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.

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 and special events 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!

Skylar is very excited to be joining NSO for her first season this May.
Currently studying business at West Chester University, she got her start in growing by volunteering in the school's Outdoor Classroom. Tending to the student garden and watching the plants grow sparked her passion for gardening. Besides gardening, Skylar is also very passionate about holistic and sustainable living. Her most recent goal has been switching to a zero waste lifestyle. Her interest in this field has led her to sustainable agriculture which makes her very excited to learn more about the the farm practices and experience working on a sustainable orchard/farm.
When she's not working or doing coursework, Skylar is either taking pictures, doing yoga, writing, or trying out new vegan recipes. 

Sophie is a 10-year veteran farm helper. She started out avidly hunting down groundhogs and chasing deer off the original NSO property. Now at the farm here in Cochranville, she turns her attentions to chasing down and killing rodents of all kinds.

She also does a great job greeting all of our staff every morning as she makes her way around for pats during the staff morning powwow.

Sophie may be approaching retirement soon, but she'll continue to keep busy with her off-duty pursuits such as greeting postal and UPS delivery people (very nicely!), soaking up rays in the front yard, and making sure no concrete trucks or Amish buggies stop by.

Stephanie is helping out for a 4th season in 2017. She loves to get her hands dirty with deconstruction projects, but also enjoys managing the CSA Fruit Share and assisting Ike with documenting and tasting the hundreds of apple varieties we're growing (which is no small task!), amongst other activities.

Her love of farming and sustainable living developed after studying Biology at the University of Tampa and later while working for the Student Conservation Association. While originally from Wisconsin, she has been fortunate enough to live and work all across the country and the world on various types of farms.

Some of her interests include cooking, travelling, hiking, photography, learning new things and blogging with her sister (see Tincans and Topsoil).