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 2018 team....A pic of 2021 Staff we hope to get up sometime in spring!

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.

Alaina is a full-time new farmer and does a little bit of everything around here, from field work to Fruit Share packing to helping in the Farm Store and farmers' markets!

All-around great helper Andrew keeps us laughing and upbeat through the day

"I am from central Pennsylvania and have grown fruits and vegetables in abundance since early childhood. I studied Environmental Health at West Chester University, served as an agriculture volunteer in the US Peace Corps, and started working at NSO so I could gain the skills to establish my own farm.

I have a moderate visual disability due to retinal degeneration, but I still like working with my hands and finding new ways to farm."

(Andrew's alter ego dreams of being a rodeo clown in Brazil)

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 our farm store manager, although you'll also see her out and about in the field several days a week helping to grow your food! 

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.

Hi I'm Léa!

After six years working in community TV and radio, I've decided to change my career focus to complement my goals of self-sufficiency and love for growing food. I wanted to apply to NSO since moving out of the city years ago, and the timing was finally right.

I spend my free time foraging for wild mushrooms, tending to my big edible garden, and making art with my chunky dog Brutus glued to my side. In the fall, I'll be headed back to school, for the first time since graduating Drexel in 2015, at Penn State Mont Alto for Forest Technology.

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 "in the background" primarily, in sales, web, and most business-related operations, as well as facilitating staff efforts in produce handling, CSA, and marketing.

In her "other life", you'll find her up to her elbows in messy sculpture-building and colorful acrylics and other gooey medium in her studio. Visit Reflections-of-L for more information.

Melissa is our Farm Store Manager.  She and her siblings grew up as a Veterinarian’s children so they were instilled with an appreciation and kindness towards animals,  they all also pulled many, many weeds in their parents’ giant garden from a very early age.   She graduated form Penn State with a degree in Environmental Resource Management.  She has spent a good many years of her life managing wineries with her husband, Tim.  She loves traveling with Tim and her 2 children (especially far off the beaten path), gardening, and botany.  A favorite pastime is taking peaceful (though sometimes chaotic) walks through the woods with her 4 Australian Shepherds.

Neil continues at NSO as an all-around great field helper and equipment operator. He also can be seen at least one day a week helping out in the farm store.

"I've been a home gardener for almost 10 years ... 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."

 

Rionna started at NSO in 2020, and she can be found working all around the farm.

She has been gardening at home for a long time, and loves growing both plants and her knowledge about them!

In her free time, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and spending time with her family.

RJ joined the NSO team in fall 2019 and quickly jumped in to NSO culture and work of all kinds.

RJ is a "Vegetable Apprentice" on the farm (the apprenticeship program is a cooperative venture through PASA).

He also helps with everything else! Equipment, orcharding, markets, you-name-it!

Ruby joined the NSO team during the 2020 season. She grew up on a family farm in Southern Chester County, but did not formally pursue an education in agriculture. 

Ruby received her master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology and currently works as a school-based speech language therapist with elementary students. 

During her summer break, Ruby lends a helping hand in the fields alongside her husband, Rj. She can also be found working at the Pheonixville Farmer’s Market later in the season!

Sarah is 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 is instrumental to keeping 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.

Veronica joined the NSO team in the summer of 2020, and can be found in the farm store or out picking fruits and veggies.

She loves the sunshine, books, karate, and her family.
Working on the farm is the summer job of her dreams, and she’s so glad to be joining the NSO gang for another season! 

Veronica will be attending college in the fall, but you can bet she’ll be savoring that summer sun for as long as she can!

Victoria was born and raised in San Antonio, TX. After receiving her bachelor's degree in psychology from Bryn Mawr College, she spent six years with an HR Technology company in Exton, PA. She found her way to farming through an interest in and deep concern for the state of the current climate crisis.

Although Victoria grew up climbing trees rather than growing them, she has loved having the opportunity to pick her own fruit while living in Pennsylvania and has been seen once or twice with her bike stopped on the side of the road snacking on wild raspberries. She is passionate about the power of trees as a force for carbon sequestration and is excited to gain more hands-on experience at NSO.

Victoria is currently participating as an observer in the Rodale Institute Farmer Training (RIFT) program and looks to develop a strong foundation in all aspects of organic farm production, with a special interest in regenerative farming practices and social justice in agriculture. She hopes to apply this knowledge on her own small farm some day and to educate consumers on the benefits of regenerative agriculture as a means to reconnect with the land and as a tool to fight climate change.

When she's not on the farm, Victoria loves trail running, good documentaries, true crime podcasts, having full-on conversations with her cat (Scout) and dog (Milo), and baking the occasional sourdough bread.