I am not from a farming background. I was raised in the suburbs of Chicago. I developed a love of plants in college, as a student of herbal science at Bastyr University but really only started getting interested in food systems when I realized I had no idea where my food was grown, who picked it and who profited from my purchase. The more I learned, the more I wanted control over my own food. I worked on farms for 3 years before we started Martenette. We started on ⅓ acre of rented land with the intention of growing good food for ourselves and a small number of CSA members and customers. 2016 was our first year and it was bumpy. We had to learn the soil and it took us 3 years to get the soil to a place where it was producing healthy plants and soil life. We gradually built up to ¾ acre field with 2 hoophouses.
Toward the end of our 5th season, in 2020, amidst all the chaos and uncertainty of Covid, we had the opportunity to purchase a 7 acre plot within a mile of our rented land. We seized the opportunity and closed on our new farm in October 2020. The land was gently sloping, wide open pasture. It was full of roses, virginia creeper, russian olive, poison ivy and hope! We went to work almost immediately, building a fence for the future garden that would hold our chickens and their guardian, Charlie, until a full property perimeter fence could be erected. In 2021 we farmed the old property and used its wash station while building out the infrastructure of the new farm. We had a ton of help from our neighbors, family and customers who were just excited about helping us grow and we are very thankful for all of them.
The new garden is roughly 1.5 acres with potential for greenhouse expansion outside the fence. We managed to plant into half the new fields last year, harvesting our first certified organic salad mix on May 1, 2021. We have done a lot of work but still have more to go. Our wash station, packhouse and walk in fridge need to be finished and we will be building a new propagation house. In 2022 we will be farming 100% on the new property. We are so excited to root into our own soil, to learn what this land needs to be healthy and vibrant. We have plans of perennial crops, forest remediation, value added products and increased year round production.
Our vision is to build a vibrant, year round farm that provides high quality organic fruits and vegetables for our family and our members. We are committed to increasing the health of our soil, through testing, adding amendments, decreasing tillage, cover cropping and crop rotation. Our farm is small but we want to have a big impact on our friends, families, neighbors and customers. We have a lot we want to accomplish, this year and in the years to come and we hope to do all of it with the support of our community, while maintaining a healthy work/life balance and of course, we want to have fun. For all those who have supported us in the past and those who continue to support us, you made this dream of ours possible and we are grateful.