I had the opportunity to sit down with farmer Alex Sawatzky of Sandbrook Meadow Farm in Stockton, NJ, to learn more about him and the 50 acre farm where he and landowner partners Brent and Deirdre Alderfer produce certified organic vegetables throughout the growing season. The primary business model of the farm is a CSA, with a 300 family membership, however, there is a surplus, and the Doylestown Food Market is a lucky recipient of their overflow produce.
The farm was established in 2010, the first growing season was Spring 2011, and became certified organic in 2012. Alex and others on the property work and live responsibly, which to him means, “going above and beyond organic to be sustainable.” The farm is buffered by woods on one side, and a neighboring hay farm on the other side, thereby providing an additional comfort level to the quality and purity of the soil and produce.
What led Alex to farming? “I studied history in college and was thinking about being a high school history teacher.” A college thesis led him to Haiti where he learned about the country’s massive land and deforestation problem. Given that experience, Alex decided he wanted to learn how to farm sustainably and also work with local farmers to help revitalize the land.
“I ended up doing WWOOFing (World Wide Willing Workers on Organic Farms) in Costa Rica," he says. "I fell in love with the people, being conscious of the land, farming based on permaculture principles, and living simply.”
Upon returning home, Alex interned at Living Hope Farm in Harleysville, PA, which was the perfect opportunity to prepare him for managing the Sandbrook Meadow Farm. Alex also adds, “ A lot of my education has been through reading and going to conferences, talking with other farmers, and mostly trial and error -- learning from experience.”
Meet Farmer Eileen and sample produce from the farm:
- Sunday, August 14 from 1-3pm
- Sunday, August 28 from 1-3pm
Enjoy 20% off Sandbrook Meadow Farm produce in August!
Alex is a full-fledged committed farmer at this time. “I farm because I am interested in helping to change the food systems of our world in general, and more specifically, our community, because that’s who I’m impacting directly. I care about the way food is produced and the way the land is cared for within the food systems.” And there’s a deeply gratifying part of the work. “I love the physicality of farming, being outside, and watching something nutritious and fresh and tasty grow from seed to harvest.”
Alex continues: “Two of our main priorities here are being a sustainable farm and enhancing the surrounding environment, the eco systems including the soil, so that we’re not just maintaining the status quo but making it better.” He adds, “The community aspect is huge for us as well. That’s why we don’t do deliveries of CSA box shares. We want our members to come to the farm, bring their kids, get out in the fields, pick flowers and herbs, and cherry tomatoes, and strawberries, and see where their food comes from and get to know them as people.”
In the future, Alex says he’s interested in getting into more of the educational aspect of farming – perhaps collaborating with a university or a prison farm. But that’s still down the road. Right now Alex is very happy with his relationship with the land and the community of people he serves through responsible organic farming practices.
You will have an opportunity to meet farmer Eileen and sample farm fresh produce on two Sunday afternoons from 1-3 pm: August 14 and August 28.
Remember, all Sandbrook Meadow Farm produce is 20% off during the month of August.