By Kara Winslow
Jason Heitman starts his day of farming with a quick stop at the beehive, where he listens to the happy whir within and then greets the bees. The ritual fits into his philosophy of farming, which is all about learning how “to read the land better and influence it less.”
Heitman owns Green Jeans Market Farm, one of the new Saturday vendors at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market. He farms on one-eighth of an acre of land leased from another market vendor, Otrembiak Farm.
The land – uncultivated – was covered with perennial grass, six feet tall. It now hosts rows of intensively cultivated vegetables and herbs.
Heitman was an English major in college. He graduated, landed a job in technology, and then decided he wanted to become a farmer because he saw it as a means of offering safe and healthy food to his community. He wanted to “do it right” so he picked up a book and learned about how food systems operated.
He completed internships at a farm in Denver and with Pleasant Valley Farm, also a Saratoga Farmers’ Market vendor, for a year and a half, “every moment of which was precious.” He also worked with other market vendors to learn how different farming systems worked.
Green Jeans became “certified naturally grown” before Heitman sold his first radish. The designation indicates that the farming is done without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or genetically modified organisms. It is comparable to being certified organic except that the certification relies upon peer inspections and direct relationships between like-minded farmers.
Heitman does his farming by hand and remains attentive to the natural processes of the land. The evidence of his labor is found at his booth at the south end of the market in the array of greens he brings each week.
Heitman credits his ability to farm to the help he received from other farmers. Now, he too wants to reach out and help others. “It’s always on the back of my mind,” he says. “I know this farm is small, but I hope to be able to help others as they’ve helped me.”
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at High Rock Park. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and check us out on the FreshFoodNY app. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for volunteer opportunities.