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Avrom Farm is nested among the rolling hills overlooking Green Lake in central Wisconsin. The farm was bought by my grandfather, Lester Schwartz, 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 large-scale steel sculptures which expressed his innovative personality. In 2008, when I was 12, I began growing vegetables with the help of my parents John Holbert and Leslie Schwartz. 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 seeing if they’d grow. From the start we used homemade compost and other forms of organic matter to grow big and delicious 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 work 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 French butchering.
The spring of 2017 marks the first full year of farming for me, and thus a major shift in the landscape of the farm. 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 some restaurants in Chicago and the farmers markets around Green Lake. 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.