Follow along each month in Attraction magazine as Sprout takes readers on tours of Mid-Shore farms. They will share stories from the road as they gather fresh produce from area farms. Sprout provides individually portioned, ready-to-eat meals using fresh, local and organic ingredients, delivered directly to a customer and to businesses.
A merry band of waddling ducks welcomes one to Know Good Farm. The Muscovy ducks are not necessarily the first thing one notices driving down the shaded lane in quiet Wittman as your eyes dart around digesting your new surroundings, but they are a fun group to observe. Breaking through the shade and into the sunshine is a wonderful cacophony of buildings, gardens and vehicles.
The farm – with its play on words in the title – has been a work in progress, striving to accomplish what its name implies – growing what is good for you. When husband-and-wife team Carol Bean and Mark Connolly purchased the farm over six years ago it may have felt like a “no good” farm. It was run down and over run with everything from poison ivy to invasive bamboo. Never mind that some of the outbuildings were in complete disrepair. The barn? You couldn’t see it through the overgrowth, admits Carol. The property also needed to be graded for proper drainage.
With backbreaking work and a can-do spirit, the two persevered and created a little oasis for themselves (and the merry band of ducks). They moved onto the property a little over two years ago and continued to streamline things on the nine-acre farm. The infrastructure is now in place and Know Good Farm is ready for its debut to the public.
Carol has big plans for the little farm. About 1.5 acres is currently under cultivation with everything from micro greens and bean shoots to heirloom tomatoes and fennel. A small Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is starting to thrive. Specialty plants are growing in the warm sun. A honeybee hive has recently been relocated to the farm. Loyal customers continue to look for Carol at the farmers’ market in St. Michaels every Saturday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Fremont Street.
As things take shape, Carol can now dream ahead to what the future holds. Plans may include offering a bevy of flowers that Carol hopes to grow. Oysters could be included in the CSA since Mark is a commercial waterman. Specialty crops, like French melons, are in the works, too. Carol wants to bring a social component to farming and bring people together with food demonstrations, wine tastings, cooking classes and plant sales to the farm.
Carol’s initial interest was in food and cooking. From that bloomed the interest of wanting to physically grow the food she was cooking and eating. In her “previous life,” pre-farming, Carol was a West Coaster who decided that college on the East Coast was a good way to experience new parts of the country. She attended Sarah Lawrence College in New York and participated in the acclaimed dance program. She migrated south to Washington, D.C. and traveled working for various campaigns. She decided that a government job wasn’t in the cards, but international travel would be welcome. She landed a position at USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development. She went to Cambodia and lived in Southeast Asia for five years. During her time in Asia, she became acquainted with different foods and her interest in food grew from there.
After returning stateside, she moved to the Eastern Shore and eventually found her way to Pot Pie Farm, around the bend from Know Good Farm. There she managed the farm and the local farmers’ market. Along the way she has been mentored and supported by fellow farmers who are always willing to share information. “It’s a great community to be a part of,” she admits. Her customers at the farmers’ market buoy her along in her endeavors, always a friendly smile, even in rainy weather on market days. Businesses such as Eat Sprout and various restaurants are interested in the crops she is nurturing in part for their diversity, long shelf life and freshness. Together with Mark, Carol is making good things happen in her little oasis known as Know Good Farm. For more information, visit www.knowgoodfarm.com.