Back in 2005, when Jason and I bought what we now call the Home Farm, it was a dream come true. Literally. All either one of us had ever wanted—way before we ever met—was a farm of our own. Jason’s a fifth generation Boulder County farmer and grew up farming; my exposure to farming was limited to summers on a cousin’s dairy farm. Both of us, as individuals, always hoped to one day farm for ourselves. Last night, I asked Jason, “How would you explain why farming has always been your calling?” “Simple,” he answered. “I love doing the work. I love the freedom. I love working outdoors. I love working with the seasons. I love the variability of the job from day to day, month to month, and I take great pride in growing things. I truly feel like it’s the thing that I was born to do.”
Back in 2005, when we started growing organic produce, we both had full-time jobs. Most days, those jobs had us out the driveway by 7 and home not before 7, so we farmed when we could—early mornings, into the night and all weekend long. We had only two employees—us—and no kids. Fast forward 10 years: Our children are 5 and 8, we both work for the farm full-time, have five full-time employees and up to 30 seasonal team members aat the height of the season, grow food on 110 USDA Organic certified acres and are transitioning another 200 acres. In 2005, we sold any produce we harvested at a self-serve roadside stand next to our house. And from 2006 through 2009, we sold most of our produce at Boulder County Farmer’s Markets. Between 2009 and now, we have added a CSA Farm Share Program, year-round Farm Store, and sell to grocery stores and restaurants.
Although our business has grown a lot, the reasons we farm are still the same. If anything, farming has become even a deeper part of who we are as individuals, a couple and a family. It has been immensely satisfying for Jason and I to create our farm together. Though our strengths, ideas and perspective are often varied, the best parts of growing this farm together have come out of collaboration and compromise between the two of us.
Raising our kids on a farm is nothing short of miraculous. We get to work together daily. Our 8-year-old is the naturalist, creating habitats that benefit native and migratory Monarchs. Our 5-year-old son is the engineer, building cranes out of pallets, scraps of wood, pullies and chains. Both understand so much about the natural world that their peers don’t—why water flows as it does, that some bugs are beneficial, how earthworms help soil and birds spread seeds…. Both of us have our parents to thank for instilling the same in us and supporting us as we build on their legacies.
And then there’s our extended family—the people who have come and been part of Isabelle Farm. Farming isn’t for everyone. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s not for most folks. So the people who gravitate toward the kind of farming we do are a unique breed. Most are driven by environmental and social reasons. Some just love to work really, really hard in all weather, day in and day out. Others are foodies, through and through. Whatever their reasons, it is really rewarding to work at a place where people come, join our family, contribute from their hearts and souls, simultaneously growing, thriving and filling their personal buckets. “Looking back, one of the things I am most proud of is the people who have been a part of the farm,” concluded Jason last night. And I agree. The bond I feel with the land and Mother Nature is only matched by the amazing sense of community and camaraderie I feel with the people I’ve met through and worked alongside while farming. Our whole family will be forever grateful to them for having helped us realize our dream.
Written by Natalie Condon, with Jason Condon Isabelle Farm Owner/Operators for Urban Conversion
Learn more at isabellefarm.com