Avrom Farm is nested among the rolling hills overlooking Green Lake in central Wisconsin. The farm was bought by my grandfather, Lester Schwartz (pictured with my grandmother Gloria), in the early 1950s and has stayed in our family ever since. He named the farm after his father Abraham, whose Hebrew name was Avrom. Lester was a professor of art at Ripon College from 1947 to 1977. He was inspired by the landscape of the farm and created paintings and eccentric steel sculptures that are still a significant part of the farm today. In 2008, when I was 12, I planted a small vegetable garden with the help of my parents. From there it grew. Although I spent the majority of my childhood in Chicago, nearly all of my summers were spent at the farm, sticking seeds in the ground and hoping that they'd grow.
From the start we used homemade compost and focussed on soil health to produce flavorful and nutritious vegetables. We started selling them at farmers markets around the Green Lake, WI area and with each year added equipment and knowledge to our new-found passion.In 2013 I went to Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC to study sustainable agriculture and worked on the college's 275 acre pasture-based livestock farm. There, I found my passion for pigs and chickens and how their niche in a diversified farm-ecosystem can transform degraded lands into productive ones, provide nutrients and organic matter to high demanding vegetables, and make our experience as farmers much more rewarding. During my time in school I spent a summer in Southwest France, living and working with three families who helped further my knowledge in regenerative agriculture and introduced me to charcuterie and a higher standard of cooking ingredients.
The spring of 2017 marked the first full year of farming at Avrom Farm, and thus a major shift in the landscape. We brought on several people to help us grow the vegetables and put up fences, barns, freezers, and a packing shed all the while raising livestock to meet the demands of restaurants and farmers markets. We are still very much in a state of growth and development as we seek to hit our stride in terms of what we produce, how much we produce, and how we maintain our farm's symbiosis while satisfying our quality of life standards. I believe this will be a lifelong pursuit, and it's what makes me excited to be a farmer at this time.
- Hayden Holbert
One of Lester's sculptures with Angela Lombardo (Avrom Farm crew 2016) posing. Learn more about Lester's art here