They saying goes ‘two’s company, three’s a crowd’, but on this farm, three’s the magic number. The trio I am referring to is Lauren Cox, Katherine Kennedy, and Luca Caffettani, all young, dedicated, and enthusiastic keepers of a gorgeous span of land just west of Atlanta, Georgia. Whilst exchanging inspiring and enlightening stories revolving around food, we introduced some choi transplants to their new home, the rich and welcoming soil of the Le Tre Lune farm. I am always curious to learn how young folks find their way to the land, and this story doesn’t fall short of inspirational…
After several years of late nights, loud gigs, and colorful personality encounters in the music management industry, something began to stir inside Katherine. She began to question her place in life, and somehow, the music industry wasn’t living up to her expectations. She was in Brooklyn, New York City, and between organizing music gigs and tours, she stumbled upon urban agriculture. She began to learn to grow, and found herself teaching kids to grow. NYC can be a hard city, where everyone is just trying to be the next best thing, but in the garden, pretenses and gritty attitudes were exchanged for humility and gritty finger nails. Then on the spur, Katherine joined a couple of friends for a road trip through Virginia. They met a young farmer who invited them to stay at his farm. Her friends concluded that they would never be able to live a bucolic life… Katherine decided that the music industry would survive just fine without her. With Georgia’s bountiful growing season, she decided to set some roots in the state and served an apprenticeship on Jenny and Jack Sun Farm. Before she knew it, she was afforded an opportunity to work on this land belonging to well-known farmers, Skip and Cookie Glover. At the time, the farm was ‘Ivabell Acres’, named after her fiery and agrarian aunt. Katherine believes that like her, we all descend from farmers.
With a degree in history under her list of accomplishments, Lauren jumped at an opportunity to complete her masters in Food Culture and Communications at the Slow Food University in Italy. During this time, she indulged in the glorious food offerings of Italy and also met an Italian boy Luca. A romance unfolded, and the knot was tied. Lauren had considered being a food critic but she felt that this would be a displacement of her energy. She wanted to do more, so she set off for East Africa where she submerged her hands into the soil, learning the virtuous traits of where all life begins. She returned to the US in 2011, and went straight to some land in Athens, Georgia. A year later, Katherine gave her a call…
Lauren and Luca joined Katherine to embark on this venture of land, growth and opportunity, the beauty of this being that the Glovers have welcomed these farmers, free of charge, to tend to their land and make a living. This isn’t always the case. Often land is leased, leaving very little in way of profit, a potential spanner in the works of sustaining small-scale farming and livelihoods, especially for new and young farmers. Katherine and Lauren both acknowledge just how fortunate they are. Seeing that the average age of our farmers is in the mid fifties, and because their children aren’t all jumping in to take the reins, wouldn’t it be ideal for arable land to be ‘loaned’ to young farmers to grow good food? It makes sense and needs to happen on a far grander scale than what currently exists.
Le Tre Lune is Italian for ‘Three Moons’, and yes, it’s a reference to the three farmers’ desire to follow mother nature’s cues to produce food. The Glover Family Farm spans 40 acres, with Le Tre Lune stewarding almost 3 acres of food production. Katherine and Lauren make it very clear that they have legacy to uphold. The Glovers have nurtured their land for over 200 years, nourishing it with load after load of compost and enduring the flooding waters of the Chattahoochee tributary that runs through their land. The beauty of the latter mentioned devastation is the rich mineral deposits. Katherine claims that this is what makes daily farming a blessing. So much of the hard work has been done, through the Glovers’ and mother nature’s hands, all Le Tre Lune has to do is run with it. And yes, mistakes are made, but Skip Glover will make his appearances to mentor the trio on learning from these.
The farm follows Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) practices and upholds the organic approaches to food production that the Glovers have lovingly instilled on their land. Honestly, any farmer who wants to grow organically minus costly bundles of red tape and paperwork can opt for CNG, plus, they’re accountable to other farmers, which to most farmers and consumers appears to be more transparent and righteous. I observe several cover crops and a few overwintered greens that have began to bolt thanks to the untimely warm weather. The Brassica and green leafy vegetables are sprouting in the greenhouse and in a high tunnel, the vivid colors of beet greens and rainbow chard are hard to miss. There is plenty of life in various stages happily abiding by the gentle work of these young and industrious farmers. With their youth comes fresh and unique concepts to market their work. During my visit, Katherine and Lauren were discussing an event they were planning for the weekend. They invited new and existing CSA members to join them on the farm for tours and a Bellini, a wonderful way to connect farmer to consumer to soil. And a little champagne does no harm in creating conviviality!
Katherine acknowledges that the work is challenging but this feels right now in her life. The trio is grateful for their supportive CSA customers, and the rewards reaped from growing food for them and many others is a constant reminder that they are working for a cause. Lauren encapsulates this perfectly… ‘If we want to affect the status quo of our food, it needs to start here, in this field, on our knees with our hands persuading the soil to produce.’ Idealistic? No. It’s a philosophy inherent to many farmers I encounter. And in my books, it’s a philosophy we can all live by, one responsible food choice at a time.
Jess Avasthi, Real Time Farms Food Warrior, Winter 2012
Keeping Food Real