Taylor Katz and Free Verse Farm

Taylor Katz, farmer and poet, has spent the 2013 growing season working in our Farm Kitchen. She’s also a great cook! Check out this kale salad recipe which was served at this years’ Pumpkin Festival. We love her fun and energetic personality, her teas, her poetry, and her vision for a more just and sustainable world full of delicious food for all. As we near the end of our season on the farm, she wrote this parting piece for us. To see more of Taylor’s writing, visit Free Verse Farm’s website.

When I’m not jarring kimchi or blanching almonds or adding more lemon juice to a lentil salad in the Cedar Circle kitchen, I’m sorting, packaging, and selling herbs for tea, culinary use, and health supportive purposes. This past year, my partner Misha (a Norwich native) and I moved to the area from San Diego. We spent three years in San Diego, where we farmed, threw art parties, and I completed my MFA in poetry. On the drive back across the country, we brainstormed about our next endeavor: our farm. As we stopped for a bite to eat at Nepenthe in Big Sur, watching the birds swoop in and out over the ocean, we came up with our name: Free Verse Farm.

Since moving to Norwich, Free Verse Farm has gone from a dream to a reality. We spent the winter planning, sketching, and ordering seeds; springtime found our dining room table covered in seedlings, which we diligently watered three times daily. By summer our small plants were in the ground, and we completed our first harvests in August. Since August we have been selling the fruits of our labor at the farmers’ markets in Norwich and Hanover.

We sell bagged simple teas and tea blends (now available in tins!), jarred culinary herbs, and a handful of herbal remedies. All of our herbs are grown without any chemicals and are dried in our farm herb dryer, which Misha designed and built this summer. We also sell sourdough spelt English muffins, flavoring them with apples from our trees and herbs from our fields. If you visit our stand at the market, you’ll also notice prints of Misha’s photographs for sale, buttons that read “STEEP IT LOCAL,” and free verses written by yours truly. We also sell tea to go, and we have plans for an “herbal medicine kit,” to be sold at the winter markets in Norwich.

Halfway through this summer, the farmstand at Cedar Circle began selling a selection of our teas, so you can now purchase two of our best-selling tea blends, “Mint Mélange” and “Earl of Vermont,” at the farm. We’ll also be selling at the Norwich farmer’s market in Tracy Hall this winter, plus our online store should be up and running very soon. Although we’ve yet to find a permanent home for Free Verse Farm, we intend on expanding the amount of herbs we grow next season, as well as beginning the process of organic certification. We hope to one day grow enough herbs to provide for our local community as well as herbalists around the country.

It has been quite a busy summer for this farmer/poet: I spent my days in the farm kitchen, then went home to my own farmstead to weed, winnow, and prepare for markets. It’s been wonderful to work on at Cedar Circle, a farm that has been dedicated to providing the community with safe and delicious fruits and vegetables for so many years. As the co-owner of a small agricultural business, I will continue to look to Cedar Circle as a source of inspiration and a model for educating, feeding, and sustaining the hearts and bellies of the Upper Valley. Here’s to eating, drinking, and sourcing our medicine locally!

By Taylor Katz

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