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UPDATED: Fate of 40-Year Bethel Holbrook Farm Unclear, Jessica Wong Writes Goodbye Message

Report by Paula Antolini
September 22, 2018, 8:16AM EDT

 

Photo: Jessica Wong shown with John Holbrook in 2015.  John Holbrook and his wife Lynn Holbrook are the owners of Holbrook Farm, who previously operated the farm for 40 years and leased it to Wong in the last few years, as they remained on the property to offer guidance. (Bethel Advocate file photo ©2015, credit Paula Antolini.)
(Scroll down to bottom of page to read comments from well-wishers.)

 

UPDATED: Fate of 40-Year Bethel Holbrook Farm Unclear, Jessica Wong Writes Goodbye Message

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UPDATED story September 22, 2018, 1:45PM:

Bethel Advocate spoke to Holbrook Farm owners John and Lynn Holbrook this afternoon, and they assured us they are NOT selling the farm.  It is true that Jessica Wong will be leaving the farm by the end of October when her lease is up, but the Holbrooks will not be leasing the farm out again. Instead they will be searching for someone to manage and operate the farm, and they will still be on the farm offering guidance.

Lynn Holbrook said, “We’re not closing down the farm.  We will be signing up people to help run it.”  Regarding Jessica Wong, the manager of the farm for the last few years, Lynn said, “I think she just got tired, wanting to move on to something different.”

“I was out there for an hour and a half today and I’m exhausted. There isn’t much energy in a 78-year-old man and a 77-year-old woman,” John Holbrook said, “We’ve got to find somebody else to come here and do it.”

The Holbrooks still have to workout the details of Wong’s departure regarding things like her removing a greenhouse she had installed, and issues about equipment etc.

But good news!  The Holbrooks and their farm are here to stay!

We will let readers know the follow up news to the farm.

 

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Original story September 22, 2018, 8:16AM EDT

On Friday, September 21, 2018, Jessica Wong, the owner/manager of Holbrook farm (leased from the Holbrook family), located at  45 Turkey Plain Road, Bethel, CT, announced the the farm will be closing after October 2018.

She also wrote: “I am not certain what will happen next season, but I have been asked to let you know that the farm will be CLOSED from DECEMBER-APRIL. Keep an eye out for emails or any notifications for farm updates from the Holbrooks. After Nov. 30th, ALL SOCIAL MEDIA (FaceBook, instagram, email, website, etc.) will be handled by the Holbrook Family.”

Here is her letter:

“There are no words that express the immense sadness that I feel. After several months of discussions, the Holbrook family and I came to a challenging final decision. It pains me to inform you that after November 30th, I will no longer operate Holbrook Farm. It has been an emotional process for me to let go of the only place that’s ever felt like home and to let go of all of you as my family.

“God has a strange way of working in our lives, and as I’m learning to accept that he has bigger plans for me, I know I was brought to the farm for the past 8 years for a reason. Despite the turn of events, John, Lynn, and the whole Holbrook family have really opened my eyes to the amazingly beautiful grace of God for which I will be forever grateful.

“I love this farm and I had big dreams to take the farm to the next level, really letting it shine like the hidden gem we all know it to be. With all of your support and the help of friends and family, I was able to begin breathing new life into an already incredible business.

“I wanted more than anything to share the amazing energy I felt at the farm and to have it not only be a staple in the community, but transform it into a platform in which we could contribute to meaningful social change.

‘Throughout my experience at the farm, I have witnessed miracles, incredible acts of kindness, the power of community, and most of all, the love and compassion from all who have come into my life. The farm will always be in my heart. YOU will always be in my heart.

“Despite not being at Holbrook Farm, I plan to continue focusing on my goal of changing the landscape of local food, and sharing all the wonder and beauty this awesome life has to offer… so I WILL be on a farm again some day. It has been such a blessing to have the opportunity to serve you, share with you, learn with you, grow, love, laugh, and find incredible joy with you.

“So where does that leave us?

“My current lease ends on Nov. 30th. That means I only have a few months to do the following and this is where you all come in!

“I need to sell everything I have at the market. I will stop ordering new inventory on most items now, but maintain certain essentials like milk and bread until the end of October. We will continue to harvest what we have. PLEASE HELP CLEAR OUT MY FARM MARKET!

“I need to make whole on all of those GIFT CARDS and CSA shares you all have. If you have a gift card or a balance on your current card, I urge you to please come in and use it before the end of October.

“I will be ordering mums and pumpkins to end the season, but I WILL NOT BE SELLING THANKSGIVING TURKEYS or pies. I have spoken with my turkey supplier and he is happy to fulfill the turkey sales this year if there is sufficient interest. I will be sending out a more detailed email specifically on TURKEYS, so please contact us as soon as possible if you’d like to order a turkey and we can begin the process now.

“I believe that we can get through this transition smoothly and efficiently, so if you have any questions or concerns or would like to help, please do not hesitate to call or email me.

“Besides market inventory, I need to sell all of the shelving and other small tools/equipment, seed garlic, dahlia and calla lily tubers, seeds, and ALL MY CHICKENS and DUCKS. If you are interested in any of these items, please contact the farm immediately.

“I also have two beautiful farm cats up for adoption. They are 2 year old sisters who are barn cats, but also enjoy snuggles. They are shy, but warm up quickly. I prefer that they be adopted together. One long haired black cat, the other short haired. Both fixed.
Not all farm supporters receive my emails. Please share this email to your friends and family who support the farm and help spread the word.

“Most IMPORTANTLY… My farm team is the most amazing group of people I have ever had the honor of working with, and I would love it if we could find them a job before the end of November.

“While working for me for the last three years, Carmen and Marcos have been incredibly hard working, smart, honest, and responsible. They have been able to take on any project I’ve tasked them with, always executing with efficiency. At the moment, they are interested in house cleaning or small home improvement work so if you are looking or know of anyone who is in need of these services, please contact the farm immediately.

“Diane has been working with me this past season and has displayed excellent managerial skills within the market. She has not only learned quickly, but has also demonstrated initiative and motivation to tackle all the farm market needs. In such a short time, she has easily worn many hats within this business and has been such a wonderful presence and friend! If you think she might be a good fit for your company or establishment, please contact us at the farm!

“Brenna started working with us this summer and has been a tremendous help both in the field and in the market. Although she’s only been with us for a short time, Brenna hit the ground running and was able to handle anything I asked of her. She shares the same belief in the importance of farming organically and has been a great friend. She is brilliant, incredibly hard working, focused, and genuinely has a passion for farming and gardening.

“My team is my family. I could not have achieved my goals without them and I have complete confidence that they will prove to be invaluable assets wherever they go. It would be so great if you could help me find them work.

“PHONE: 203-792-0561
“EMAIL: holbrookfarmnews@gmail.com

“The Next Chapter…

“I am not certain what will happen next season, but I have been asked to let you know that the farm will be CLOSED from DECEMBER-APRIL. Keep an eye out for emails or any notifications for farm updates from the Holbrooks. After Nov. 30th, ALL SOCIAL MEDIA (FaceBook, instagram, email, website, etc.) will be handled by the Holbrook Family.

“As for me, I will definitely take some time to decompress and reflect on this incredible journey. My time at the farm has shown me how endlessly curious I am about nutrition, growing good food, and the importance of food as medicine. Because of this change in direction, I have taken an interest in going back to school to work towards a naturopathic medical degree. My ultimate dream is to marry all of my passions and one day open a holistic naturopathic wellness center on a farm. I am creating a personal website where you can sign up for emails, newsletters, and updates on my progress. It will take time to fully create, but it’s a starting point. You’ll be getting an email with more details soon. I am excited for the next chapter of my life and it would mean so much if you stayed connected. Here’s to loving life and moving forward!

“With all my love and gratitude,
Jess”

 

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John and Lynn Holbrook

In 2015 the original owners, John and Lynn Holbrook, had decided to retire after 40 years of farming. November 28, 2015 was the end of last year’s farming season for Holbrook Farm, and the “end of an era” as some might say.

They leased the farm to Jessica Wong who operating the farm starting with the 2016 season.  The Holbrooks were still at the farm though, to guide Jessica Wong with her new start-up.  Wong was previously the manager of the Holbrook farm.  She worked there four years and gradually took on more responsibilities, and after two years was promoted to manager.  Then she decided to take a lease and run the farm herself in 2015.

Read full story here.

 

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We will update this story as more information is received.

 

 

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BA7_0240holbrookfarmsign

HOLBROOK FARM

Address: 45 Turkey Plain Rd., Bethel, Connecticut
Phone: (203) 792-0561
Email: holbrookfarmnews@gmail.com

Farm hours until end of October 2018:

MONDAY-SATURDAY 9-6pm
SUNDAY 9-3pm

FARM CLOSING AFTER OCTOBER 2018
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HISTORY OF HOLBROOK FARM (under Holbrook family):

Located in Bethel, CT, Holbrook farm is a mere 12 acres, with only 2 acres in true production. With limitations to land size, the Holbrook family learned how to farm intensively while also being ecologically responsible.
Holbrook Farm is a family farm; however, it is not the traditional version of a farm that has been tilled by the same family for generations. Although we have lived on the property for over 40 years, the expansion of our farm to one that welcomes visitors is relatively new.
While not certified organic, “Holbrook Farm has been clean of pesticides and herbicides for at least the last 40 years that we have owned the land. We don’t spray with pesticides, we try to use beneficial insects and companion plants,” John says, “and we don’t use herbicides. Weeds have a place in the ecological mix as long as they are controlled.” The use of compost and natural leaf mulch aid in fertilization and weed suppression. The success of the farm rely’s almost entirely on soil health. After spending decades building the soil to its current state, there is more than enough nutrients for crops to flourish.
What you put into the environment and what you take out matters. We farm without use of plastic mulches and we reuse plastic and other goods as much as we can to reduce the amount on the farm and the environment. We want to leave the land in better condition than we found it.

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Comments from well-wishers on the Holbrook Facebook page:

Phil Steinberg Best wishes Jess, great to have worked with you and hope you find your next passion.
1 Reply
Holbrook Farm Thanks! Hey, people have asked for your hot pepper powder if you’ve got it, I’ll buy some
1 Reply
Holbrook Farm also, someone brought those little containers back for you but I can throw them out if you can’t use them
J.D. Hill I’m very saddened to hear of the news – from what I had seen, you had done really wonderful things for the farm. It is quite a loss for our community in Bethel.
1 Reply
Holbrook Farm Thanks J.D. I’m super sad too. It’s not how I imagined all of this happening, but I am so grateful for all the wonderful people I’ve met through this whole experience. I’m sure everything will work out.

 

John Langer Jess. Your breaking my heart ❤️. You’ve worked so hard and touched my soul. Best of luck on your new endeavor. But I’ll miss you and never forget you. Love you.
Holbrook Farm I know!! I’m torn up too. At least I know where you are! I’ll come visit you more Thank you for everything. You’ve been an amazing friend, always making me smile!
John Langer Holbrook Farm please stop by. Hopefully I’ll get to see you before your done. You’ve always made me smile too. But I’m not right now. Your an amazing young woman. Make it happen for yourself Jess. I know you can.
Brae Ferguson I will admire you forever Jess, you are incredible and cannot wait to see where your journeys take you, I know they will be beautiful
Holbrook Farm Thank you and same to you girl! Miss you lots! Let me know when you come home. xoxo
Barbara Rodriguez We wish you all the best in all your future endeavors.
Holbrook Farm Thank you so much Barbara Rodriguez!
Holbrook Farm Maybe I’ll run into you guys at the airport again!
Raghib Allie-Brennan We love you Jess! You are family in our community and we will stand with you in your next chapter. ❤️
1 Reply
Holbrook Farm Aww. You’re going to make me cry. Love you!! and thank you for the support! xoxo
Holbrook Farm I’m so happy we’ll always have Aki and House Of Yoshida
XXXXX
Caroline Robinson I am a newbie in coming to the farm since commuting to Bethel over the last 5 years but loved Holbrook from day 1. Wish you and your staff family all the best on your next lifes journey
1 Reply
Holbrook Farm Thank so much Caroline! That means so much more than you could ever know!
Dawn Jolly Best wishes and love. Would love to collaborate in some meaningful way since we have such similar interests and passions! Will be in touch if hubby allows me to adopt any more animals!
1 Reply
Holbrook Farm Would love to collaborate! Stay in touch!
Karen Fryer Hey Jess, I’m so sorry to read this! I am glad to have been able to know you though it has been some time since I’ve seen you. Thank you for your support of Mmmmm. Pretzels!  I’m sure you will land nicely somewhere and I am excited for you future goals. I’m sure you will make it happen and I can’t wait to hear about it!  I’m sure there will be more chances to check in over the next few months so I won’t say good-bye. Wish I were closer, I’d be there to lend a hand.
1 Reply
Holbrook Farm Thank you Karen! Miss you!
Jessica Bardelli Best of luck, Jess! I’m so sad that I won’t see you at the farm but wish you joy and luck in your next adventure.
1 Reply
Holbrook Farm Thank you Jess!
1 Reply
Susan Kelly The best of everything to you, Jess!
1 Reply
Holbrook Farm Thank you Susan!
Heather Simmons-Winston Sorry this chapter is ending but excited for the next one for you. You are an incredible woman and I know god has big plans for you!!! You are amazing. Please stay in touch, we are family! 💗
1 Reply
Holbrook Farm Thank you Heather! I will stay in touch! Thanks for all your support xo
Dustin Malstrom You’ve created something really special for this community so thank you! We’ll definitely miss the farm but wish you the best of luck with your next venture— I’m sure you’ll do something great.
Carol Lake When I had to come to the same choice, I too decided to go into medicine…I’m currently in the Simmons nursing program – becoming an integrative nurse practitioner, specializing in neuroscience and the gut-brain axis…
Teresa Piccinini Best of everything to you Jess! I really enjoyed coming to the farm with all of your fresh ideas and new look – I especially enjoyed the classes you hosted and will always be so appreciative of your time and knowledge… I know you’ll go far- follow your passions and your heart and you’ll never go wrong 💕 looking forward to seeing your next chapter- please keep me informed ! All the best to you 💕😊
Monika Nowak I’m very sad to hear this Jess. You’ve really made an impact on the farm of which I was a regular since 2016. You’ve helped me buy some of the most delicious tomato plants ever. I will always remember that season. Good luck in all your future endeavors. I’m sure you will do great!
Jon Auerbach All the best…
Linda Telford Trettin So sad! I’m new to the area and have loved the market! If I email you, may I be put on the list for a turkey if you get them? Also, in regards to chickens, Stuart Family Farm lost a lot of their chickens. Maybe contact them and see if they would be interested in yours?
Laura Shahinian-Kara Jess. This is so beautifully written. You clearly have a huge heart and will bring that into your naturopathic practice. Best of luck. I hope someone takes over the farm and keeps it going come spring.
James L’hernault How can I get on your mailing list to follow you
Cindy Crean Awwww….Jess….that stinks. I always love coming in there and having a chat. I’m going to miss that and you, of course. Plus, it is such a wonderful place for Bethel. I know I’ll see you…come by Oktoberfest on Sunday! On to your next adventure!
Sarah O’Dell Oh I’m so sorry to hear this. You have been such a gift to our community. We will miss you very much. ❤️
Tiffany Johnson Art Omg best wishes on your next journey. I enjoyed stopping by and talking with you on the occasions I shopped. It definitely will not be the same but cheers to you ❤️
Jennifer O’Hara Upton Jess – I’m so sad to learn that you are leaving Holbrook, you’ve been so much a part of it for us that I can’t imagine it without you.
Lauren Pomara Shekari I am so sad to hear this! My family and I have really loved seeing the way you have managed the farm and the direction you have taken it! Wishing you the best in your next adventure and know you will be missed!
Jeanne Halloran Baker I’m sad to hear this and will miss the farm as it is now, but I wish you good luck into what sounds like an amazing journey… I will be following… I’ve been so interested in using food as medicine 💛 best wishes to you 🍎🍐🥦🥒🥕🌽🌶🍅🧀🥐🍞
Meredith Ferris Oh my!! I can’t believe this. I love the farm and enjoy the market so much. I buy my eggs there weekly. Such sad news
Jennifer Wilcox Beihl I too have visited the farm frequently and am saddened by this. Brought family from Chicago and they loved it … so impressed with the experience!
Barbara Mangraviti S Jess we have not met, I’ve only recently moved here, but have been touched by what you’ve created and by your sentiments here. I gave a middle school science class that I teach and would love to see/purchase any of the things you used for some of the programs you’ve put together. I’m an east coast gal but I’ve spent the last 12 years in Ohio and have seen the importance of farms in our community. Best wishes
Farmgal Patti You’re young, you’re ambitious and you’ll rock the next chapter in the book of life. You will always remain a farmgirl at heart and so thankful our paths crossed in the local farming world. xo
Peter Rose Jessica it’s so evident from the loving, sad, supportive comments, what an incredible community you created through your loving energy. You will always be part of our life, and for that we’ve been grateful for years, but it touches my heart to read all the comments from people who love you as much as we do. It’s a huge loss for the wonderful community of people you made happen💚💚
Victoria Eastus Jess wishing you everything good as you so deserve. I’ll pm you regarding the cats and some chickens. Hugs. Xo
Sharon Hoverman Heartbroken😢😘
Alice Hutchinson I am so very sad to see this- you have been a mainstay in our community and such a vital part of healthy living in Bethel and the surrounding area. You really made that farm into a gem for ALL of us to boast about, and the dinners helped reach out to so many others in the community. Please know you built something important here that we all value greatly. It’s hard not to be angry with the Hollbrooks and it my profound wish that the lovely farm we know will not be turned into some kind of subdivision. Regardless, you are in our hearts….best wishes to you moving forward.
Paula Antolini Jessica Wong I enjoyed writing about and photographing your business for the Bethel Advocate, and the tour of the farm was awesome. The work involved seems an impossible task but you did it well. The transformation/updating of the shop that you did was delightful, especially those counters you built! Your merchandise and food products were outstanding. I am sad to hear you are moving on. I know you have the passion it takes to succeed, you will do well in your next endeavor. Wishing you the best.
Christine Czyz Lawlor Wishing you the best of everything. You will be missed.

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