Vermont Valley Community Farm was founded in 1994. We (Barb and David) and our three children moved from Madison’s isthmus to the Town of Vermont with the sole purpose of starting a CSA. The beauty of the area, proximity to Madison and good soil for growing vegetables were instrumental in our decision. Our goal was to leave our city jobs and become full time farmers. This goal was realized in 3 years. We had 50 CSA members our first season (mostly loyalty from the near east side!). The CSA membership grew incrementally until we reached our peak in 2009 with 1250 shares. Our focus has always been on CSA, we believe strongly in this model. All of the food we grow on the farm gets distributed to our CSA members. We do not sell at the farmer’s market or to restaurants and have sold just a few select items to Willy St Coop over the years. It is very important to involve our members and encourage them to come out to the farm. As we head into year 23 we are grateful to the Madison community for the incredible support!
David Perkins Farm Owner/Operations Manager
Vermont Valley Community Farm came to be because of Barb’s and my desire to return to the country combined with a grand experiment to see if people would support our efforts to create a farm following the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model. I grew up on a traditional southern Wisconsin diversified family farm; went on to earn a degree in Agriculture; and entered the pesticide dependent world of agriculture as an Agronomist. Disillusioned by this system, I shifted to the political world and spent many years working in our State Capital, where I was exposed to the politics of agriculture. It is here that I converted to organic agriculture and began to look for a new model; one that made sense for both farmers and eaters. The grand experiment to start a CSA farm is a grand success thanks to thousands of people who have put their food dollars into our hands and thanks to the hard work of the hundreds of people who has been part of this farm over these two decades. The best part of the farm is the comments we get from our members thanking us for what we do; it lets me know we’ve made the right choice. So what do I do on the farm; initially everything; then someone else takes over a task; my load is much lighter now. You are most likely to find me in the field tilling, planting or cultivating; but when time allows, I may be seen sailing on Lake Mendota.
Barb Perkins Farm Owner/CSA Manager
This farm and I have grown up together. I’ve nurtured every aspect of this place and in turn it has grown up to be a rather large and independent 23 year old. Sometimes I feel as if the farm has taken on a life of its own and I am here to support it. On a daily basis I manage the labor crews and am responsible for the harvest and all aspects of getting the food from field to share box. I love working with a wide diversity of people (the sociology major in me) and love a challenge (that would be every day!). My years working in the non-profit world prepared me for managing a CSA; juggling many tasks at once and feeling as if there is not quite enough time to get it all done, although it always gets done! It is incredibly special to work with my children and their partners. Who would have imagined all of this 23 years ago?
Jesse Perkins Tractor Operations/Irrigation Manager
I have been working at Vermont Valley Community Farm since my parents, Barb and David, started the farm 23 years ago. I worked summers through college and began working full time after I graduated from UW-Madison in 2005. I have been part of almost every aspect of the farm, but now I spend a lot of time working with machinery and irrigation. I manage harvest and planting crews as well. I am also in charge of our seed potato business. Away from the farm I like to spend time with my two kids, Paavo and Mischa. I also like to be outdoors running, hunting and fishing.
Jonnah Perkins Office Manager
This is my ninth year as the Office Manager at Vermont Valley Community Farm. I design and manage our websites as well as handle sales, distribution and member services. My husband, Jesse, and I live near the farm with our two children, Paavo and Mischa. The aspect of my job that is most fulfilling is my role as Donations Coordinator. Placing excess produce into schools, community centers and food pantries brings our community mission full circle! When I am not in the office I work in the packing shed and with the field crews. Outside of farm life, I am a competitive trail runner and love traveling with my family. I grew up on the near east side of Madison and spent my early adult years in Madrid, New York and Paris.
Eric Perkins Packing Shed Manager
I have worked on this farm, with my family, since 1994. As the packing shed manager I manage the cleaning, bagging and bunching of the produce. I keep the walk in coolers organized and record all of the produce that is harvested. It’s great on Thursday morning to see the result of our work as we pack the boxes and the trucks for delivery! I also do harvesting, lawn mowing, occasional tractor work and wood splitting. When I'm not working in the winter I snowboard and cross country ski. In the summer I like to mountain bike. I studied abroad in Costa Rica for a year and am fluent in Spanish.
Becky Perkins Farm Cook
When I was ten years old my family moved from Madison to start Vermont Valley Community Farm. Since then I have put in a lot of hours working in the fields, but I prefer to work with the fresh vegetables in the kitchen. I became the farm cook in 2007 and cooked for three seasons. I then left the state for three years but have returned to Wisconsin and am cooking once again. I am also a health and wellness coach and a mom! I love recreating in the outdoors; especially snowboarding, hiking, biking and camping. I am happy to be working alongside my family and creating all kinds of meals throughout the season!
Eric 'J-Mo' Friedricks Crew Leader
I've had my hands in the dirt as long as I can remember. My dad is an agronomist and my mom has always had a big garden, so I learned from the best. I've worked on organic farms for over five years and love the connection I feel to the earth. I have many interests - graphic design, letterpress printing, pottery, mushroom growing, photography, and cooking are among them. I feel privileged to be working at Vermont Valley with this group of very skilled and dedicated people. My wife Hanna and I live in the quiet country near Dodgeville with our cats and house rabbits.
Abigail Kutzke Crew Leader
I came to sustainable agriculture through a series of events that led me from working in dementia, studying nutrition, to finally focusing my education on the soil and what we are privileged to grow from it. I graduated last December from UW-Madison with an Agronomy degree and certificate in Environmental Studies. My punny boyfriend likes to say I "soiled myself" at UW and it rings true in my ears. I farmed for an amazing nonprofit in Milwaukee last year, The Hunger Task Force, and left each day sweaty, tired, certainly smelly, and grinning from ear to ear. That grin hasn't left my face since Barb and David added me onto their outstanding crew.Outside of the farm, I enjoy exploring local breweries, goofing around with my nieces and nephews, hiking the Ice Age Trail with that punny guy of mine, and getting crafty. I'm beyond excited to be here and hope to share the joy of farming with everyone, far and near.
Thomas Sonnenberg Crew Member
This is my third year on the farm. I love working outside with all of these wonderful people, it truly makes the time fly! Prior to joining the team here I worked a few different jobs ranging from field hand on another vegetable farm to fry cook at a local Culvers. After this summer I will be returning to UW-Platteville where I am studying Biology with a emphasis in cytotechnology. In my spare time I enjoy cycling, canoeing, trap shooting, and playing soccer.
For thirteen years we have had a crew of Cambodian Americans working with us seasonally, full time. This group of people came to the United States as refugees after the Vietnam War. They settled in Madison in the 1980’s. As an agrarian group of people, working with the land and with vegetables is a perfect fit. Many are family and all of them are a tight knit community. Some speak English, some don’t. They work hard, laugh a lot and get a lot of big jobs done fast. They are a lot of fun to work with.