By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
“All life begins with mother. Mother Earth gave birth to us all, and it is our responsibility to take care of her.”
These words from Lovin’ Mama Farm owners Corinne Hansch and Matthew Leon, explain why they farm. Using organic and regenerative methods to grow food helps heal the earth and represents farming as stewardship.
Lovin’ Mama joined the Saratoga Farmers’ Market this year and offers Certified Organic vegetables, microgreens, herbs, and cut flowers each Saturday.
Hansch and Leon use no-till methods that have given their soil resilience amid climate change. “We lay down a thick layer of our compost/peat moss mix right on top of the bed, then plant right into that,” they explain. “The worm activity is just amazing, the thick layer of compost suppresses weeds, and the plants go crazy with growth.”
Without tillage, they explain, soil aggregates form, enabling the holding and acceptance of water. Soil neither dries out in times of drought nor floods during heavy rains.
Hansch grew up with parents who were market gardeners. She worked on farms along the West Coast and studied biology. Leon grew up in New York City and studied agricultural ecology. He was more a lover of the outdoors than of farming – until he met Hansch.
Their love story began in a permaculture course. There, they saw how sustainable farming could create solutions in “a world troubled with environmental disasters and social inequalities.” For Hansch, farming linked gardening with positive change. For Leon, farming enabled an intersection between nature, the outdoors, and a basic need for food.
They started Lovin’ Mama in northern California, regenerating an abandoned field with plantings of such perennials as fruit trees, berries, and asparagus. Then, a blow came: The landowner terminated their lease, leaving them homeless and their hearts broken.
For farmers like Hansch and Leon, losing land is like losing a loved one. However, when Leon’s father offered them space to farm land he owned in Amsterdam, they knew they could begin anew.
In New York, they have built a network of CSA subscribers, market goers, employees, and family. Leon’s parents offer child care and other support; a niece manages one of their farmers’ markets, and their children – Sam, 15; Oak, 13; and Rosemary, 9 – are skilled, trustworthy workers who grew up with the farm, love it, and know it intuitively.
This week’s recipe: Carrot Top Pesto