24 Mar Meet the Farmer: Alex Sawatzky, Sandbrook Meadow Farm
Sandbrook Meadow Farm is set on 50 acres in the beautiful rolling farmland of Stockton in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Partners, farmer Alex Sawatzky and landowners Brent and Deirdre Alderfer, produce certified organic vegetables weekly throughout the growing season. Sandbrook Meadow Farm is committed to preserving the integrity of the land and the joys of farm community through responsible organic farming practices
Q. How did you get into farming?
A. Farming is somewhat of a recent vocational choice for me. I studied history in college with the intention of pursuing a teaching career in secondary education. However, shortly after graduating, I participated in an internship at a sustainable living and environmental education center in Costa Rica that changed my life. I finally found out what passion was for the first time. I fell in love with growing food as a part of living more sustainably. Conserving resources and consuming responsibly became part of my value system. For me, that included growing food in a way that enhanced the local community while maintaining and improving the integrity of the land. Upon my return to the States, I completed an internship at an organic vegetable farm and haven’t looked back since. I have been farming for six years now in the Northeast and started Sandbrook Meadow Farm in 2011 with Brent and Deirdre Alderfer. The farm is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operation, providing organic produce to almost 300 families weekly during the growing season.
Q. What are your biggest challenges?
A. Weather is such an unpredictable beast, and its mood swings affect everything we do. We are often at the mercy of Mother Nature, but we continue to strive to do the things we can control well, and not stress about what we can’t. Weather extremes appear to be the new pattern … too much rain, too dry, too hot, or too cold. The other major challenge is finding the opportunities to improve. As a farmer, you often only get one or two chances a season to observe the life of a crop. That doesn’t amount to a surplus of notes and data to learn from. The importance of taking the time to observe cause and effect with all the variables that come along with farming is invaluable to say the least. Our goal every year is simple: to grow food better than we did the year before.
Q. What do you see in the future of Sandbrook Meadow Farm?
A. We have evolved and grown over the five years since our inception. The size of our current operation feels right though. It is important for us to maintain the sense of a community supported farm. If we aspire to continue to expand, we would undoubtedly lose the intimate connection with our members and customers. I want people to know where their food comes from and to know their farmer. If everyone knew who produced their food, it would change the world as we know it in a phenomenal way.