When you consider the vast array of experiences Jillian Varney has had in the world of organic food production, and then encounter this young “farmer” at market, you may doubt that it is possible she has already lived so broadly. Jillian says that it was financial need, youth, and an intense curiosity about where our food comes from that started her on a trail which has led her from her first job at Michael Breitbach’s Farmers’ Market food store to work on an organic coffee farm in Costa Rica, CSA farms in the Chicago and Iowa City areas, back to Dubuque, working for a time with Sheila of Dobey’s, and finally to the farm she and her husband own and operate near Viroqua, Wisconsin.
Jillian and husband Adam bought their farm in the spring of 2007. They have developed their business from a 60 member CSA to over 200 members as of last season. They use more than eight of their 21 acres for vegetable production. Although Jillian and Adam are both working full-time on their farm, they have two full-time employees, and Jillian’s mother helps with deliveries. They also have 15 worker share members, which means those members help out from time to time with gardening chores. In addition to marketing through their CSA, farmers’ markets, including Madison’s, are also outlets for their sales. Find them at www.smallfamilycsa.com.
During the growing season, the CSA farm produces nearly every vegetable that will grow in our region. On Small Family Farm’s winter market table, you will currently find beautifully preserved garlic, shallots, potatoes, squash, rutabaga, beets, and carrots. Stop by Jillian’s table; meet this remarkable young woman; meet Ayla, the youngest member of the family; stock up on winter vegetables!