Jessica Wong: “Holbrook Farm is a small, family-operated farm located in Bethel, CT. John and Lynn Holbrook are truly remarkable people. Through my few brief years of working with them, they have taught me how to appreciate the little things in life, the incredible beauty nature has to offer, the satisfaction of putting in a hard days work, and most importantly, what it means to be a part of an amazing community.”
Report by Paula Antolini
February 5, 2016 7:51PM EDT
Photo above: Jessica Wong and John Holbrook. (Click on all photos to view larger.)
Help Jessica Wong Farm Start-Up As Holbrook Farm Owners Enjoy Retirement
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. John and Lynn Holbrook have decided to retire after 40 years of farming.
They have leased the farm to Jessica Wong who is now operating the farm starting with the 2016 season. The Holbrooks will still be at the farm though, so do not worry! all you Holbrook fans! (The Holbrook retirement story will be on Bethel Advocate soon, so check back.)
The Holbrooks will be there to guide Jessica Wong with her new start-up. Wong is the past manager of the Holbrook farm. She worked there four years and gradually took on more responsibilities, and after two years was promoted to manager. Now she will run the farm herself. How exciting!
Photo above: Lynn and John Holbrook.
Jessica Wong said, “Holbrook Farm is a small, family-operated farm located in Bethel, CT. John and Lynn Holbrook are truly remarkable people. Through my few brief years of working with them, they have taught me how to appreciate the little things in life, the incredible beauty nature has to offer, the satisfaction of putting in a hard days work, and most importantly, what it means to be a part of an amazing community. There’s so much more to this little gem of a farm than the vegetables we grow. We’d like to share that with you!”
Bethel Advocate asked, “Why did you choose to go into the farming business and is it scary doing it alone?”
Wong replied, “I fell in love with the Holbrooks and with this farm. My love for farming is 100% because of them. They are my inspiration and motivation. What they’ve created here and what they provide the community is so hugely important so continuing the farm was a no-brainer for me.
“I’m grateful they trust me and believe in me to do this. It speaks volumes and so, yeah, it’s terrifying to run a business on my own, especially one that’s already established and amazing, but I know I have their support and the support of the community. My cheerleaders are awesome and they keep me going. My friends and family are also amazing, so I don’t really feel alone in this.”
Bethel Advocate said, “I do realize you have Lynn and John by your side for guidance, but why do you think they chose you to take over the farm?
Wong replied, “Maybe it was fate? I think that John and Lynn have been thinking about retiring even before I started working on the farm. Like most farmers these days, it’s hard to find someone to fill your shoes, especially when their children are pursuing other careers.
“The Holbrooks are brilliant people. So insanely smart. Not just about farming or running a business, but about life in general. I always ask them for advice. This is a career, but more importantly, it’s a lifestyle. They help me navigate every aspect of it and that’s a huge advantage I have, as compared to other beginner farmers.
“I love them like my parents and during the last four years that I’ve been here, I think I proved to them that I am capable of both growing the vegetables and also running the business. The duality is a hard quality to find and I guess I got lucky and was at the right place at the right time.
“Also, farms in this area are important to preserve. So much land is being developed these days and the Holbrooks worked hard making this land so fertile. It takes a lot of work to farm, but it takes even more work to do it without chemicals like they’ve done for years. I hate to brag, but we’ve got the best soil probably ever. It didn’t come like this either! John built this soil year after year and it’s pure gold!”
Wong is asking for help from the public with her start-up and is selling “gift cards” now, to help with the funding of the early costs associated with the farm.
The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is new this year and the “gift card” can be purchased now, then you are welcome to start using the card now (the farm is open!) but better yet, use it in a few months, in Spring 2016, so this gives Wong the needed funds to do the start up this year for the first few months (the idea of being a “shareholder”).
Please feel free to contact Wong if you have any questions. These cards are only available in the store and are not for online purchase. Contact: 203-792-0561 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Get a little sneak peek of the market now! Holbrook Farm is OPEN for the season! They’ve restocked, fired up the oven, and harvested!!! Pay them a visit for all your favorites!
Here are some photos from the 2015 summer/fall harvest:
Along with the farm items there are also bakery items and an assortment of honeys and syrups, and many other delicacies, all homemade from other great vendors.
On my last visit I tried the Taconic Distillery’s “Double Barrel Bourbon Syrup” (non-alcoholic), then added some to my pancakes at home and it was nice and light, not overly sweet, with a unique hint of bourbon flavor (not heavy). I confess, I was drawn to the great label with a dog on it too! You close the bottle with a cork with a plastic top, so you can reuse the cool bottle.
I also sampled the MarDona Specialty Foods “Muffuletta,” and had it in a salad (a savory blend of green and black olives), and I kept thinking of so many other dishes to add this to! Another product from a New York company and very delicious.
The Holbrook Farm “Red Hot Sauce” is tasty (and yes, hot) and ingredients were grown at Holbrook then Wong makes the sauce herself! I added the sauce to pasta (yum) and a little goes a long way for a lot of flavor.
Check back for information about gardening classes too!
Wong will have beginners classes for home gardening and she is also thinking of adding more technical classes for experienced gardeners. Backyard chicken classes, canning and preserving, and cooking classes are also in the works. Maybe even beekeeping! She’s currently working on the schedule. As soon as it is ready, we will publish the schedule, and it will also be published on their Facebook and website where customers can purchase tickets.
We love Holbrook Farm! We wish Jessica Wong lots of success in her new endeavor!
Just another one of the reasons to love Bethel and it’s great “home-grown” businesses!