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!)

After a season and a half working full-time (in the field and at markets) at NSO, Ezra is pursuing some other opportunities, but you may very likely see him manning the NSO stand at the West Chester Growers' Market in 2018. 

Ezra 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. 

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 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.

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!