If you know about Foxhollow Farm, you probably know Pavel Ovechkin, who was our first “Partner Grower”. Pavel arrived at Foxhollow Farm in 2007 and since that time, he’s become the poster child for synergistic partnership in our biodynamic community. He would most likely hate me bragging too much about him so I will keep it brief. We all admire his determination, dedication, patience, honesty, and loyalty. He and his wife Katie taught me how to garden, and I will forever be grateful. There is much comfort when I’m in the field and know a few acres away Pavel is busy but he will step away from his task for a quick lesson or to observe a field and give me guidance and new ideas when I’m unsure. As a gardener and steward of the land, he demonstrates how tools, methods, and experimentation can expand the depth of knowledge each season brings.
So, how did Pavel end up at Foxhollow Farm? In 2006, when my mom, Janey, and I were first converting our family Farm into a Biodynamic Farm Community Janey was the champion vision holder. She took charge and gathered some farming friends to join us. In her own words, “the most important goal to me was to gather people that were very interested in taking care of this piece of land – not only interested in farming and gardening but also interested in understanding the nuances of Biodynamic agriculture which includes more than just the practical day to day labor. It needed to include some deeper understanding of nature.” She picked up the phone and called the one person she knew in town that was “growing farmers,” Ivor Chodkoski (of Field Day Family Farm and Harvest Restaurant). Ivor made a few inquiries and by Spring of 2007, Pavel and (then partner) Valerie Magnuson were installed at Foxhollow Farm, with a few acres of land and big plans for a market garden and CSA.
At the time, Pavel had some farming background, but running his own garden was a learning curve. He had a strong will and found his way quickly through a lot of hands on learning, reading, observing, and listening to seasoned farmers. It has been inspiring and incredibly motivating to watch Pavel grow as a gardener. In eight years he has steadily built his business into a high quality operation with highly coveted CSA spots, expanded seasonal offerings and yields, and produces a beautifully bountiful market garden that often sells out early at Farmers Market.
My mom and I are blessed with this farmland so close to the city and thought – ‘why not share it with other passionate people dedicated to growing Biodynamic food for our local community?’ With the Partner Grower Program, growers have the independence and freedom of owning their own business. They are driven farmers and gardeners; individuals caring for a parcel of land here at Foxhollow Farm with respect, integrity, and gratitude. Janey inspires us and is our biggest cheerleader, and a handy helper too! She has said to me, “I think that the wave of the future is people coming together, but still having their own independence. You don’t loose your independence but you’re also a part of a united mission. I think that’s what brings happiness and freedom into community.”
It is with great pride and gratitude that we look back on the past eight years with Pavel – and look forward to the future that includes Pavel, his family, and our handful of new growers. Market gardening and farming is hard work that requires a lot of stamina. Sometimes, the 5 o’clock heatwave hits me and I want to quit. I look up and see that Pavel is still there, meticulously weeding and efficiently wheel hoeing row after row of carrots, sun up to sun down. It’s hard to do this alone – but as a community, we can support each other and encourage one another to wipe the sweat off our brow and keep hoeing.