Growing Together; a Story of Farms and Ferments
It’s common that businesses and farms will work with a few different parts of CAE, but rare that a single family has two separate agricultural businesses that both utilize CAE’s resources to help them grow and expand.
Holly Simpson & Angus Baldwin are that rarity. The two met in Johnson, VT in 2006 and hit it off right away. The whirlwind romance included buying a truck and almost immediately driving to New Mexico where they spent their first winter together before returning to Vermont in 2007. After years of farm jobs for Angus and sales jobs for Holly, the two started Three Crows Farm in 2011, renting land on the Brewster Uplands property - 634 acres in Cambridge owned by the Vermont Land Trust. A “side hustle”, Three Crows started as a ¾ of an acre market garden and quickly grew into three acres focused primarily on wholesale accounts. In 2015, they took the opportunity to move to West Farm, a former dairy on the property, and convert it into a 10 acre wholesale vegetable farm.
A big fan of fermented vegetables, Holly learned to make her own kimchi in 2009. For the next decade she made small batches of ferments and sold them at The Farm Store in Jeffersonville. Three Crows Farm & Ferments, a nod to her and Angus’ original farm, now has three main products as well as seasonal flavors, and uses vegetables from West Farm. In 2018, Holly started a ferment CSA and then, in 2019, she began selling at the Morrisville farmers market. Now the West Farm has a “Ferment and Value-Added” option in both the winter and summer CSA share program.
In 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two found themselves without childcare for their son, Roland. Holly left her “day” job to care for Roland, and took the opportunity to start scaling up and professionalizing her business. In the fall of 2021, Holly joined the 10-week business planning class that CAE and the Center for Women & Enterprise co-taught. This in-depth class, for farmers with value-added products and food businesses, helps create business plans and dig into the unique questions and regulations that ag-related businesses have. In addition to the practical business support, the class provides an opportunity to form a peer group with others who understand the industry, relationships that are invaluable to a small business owner. Holly still sees the small group she was paired with in the class as a part of her support system “I felt like we were just all so honest with each other and that I could reach out to them at any time.” Through the class, Holly worked towards her goals of landing more accounts, professionalizing her labels, and deciding how to grow the business.
Holly and Angus find meaning in making and growing food for people. Holly is happy to be building her business, and contributing to a regional food system that is able to feed the community. Angus has “an appreciation for producing good food at good value while doing my best to take care of the land. I continue to farm because I continue to believe that there’s a need, a very large need, in our community for quality, nutritious food.” Together, they are working to continue the tradition of producing nutritious food for the community they love, with love.