Who Are Your Farmers? — Kaelen

Kaelen Howard — Operations Manager


Kaelen spends most of her days in the Montague office, but can be found frolicking in the flower patch and occasionally driving a tractor.

Kaelen works closely with the field crew and packers to make sure that wholesale, retail, CSA, and inter-farm deliveries are delivered accurately and on time.  Kaelen is 28 and in her second year at RFF. She loves swimming, cracking the NYT crosswords, and spending time with her cat, Oliver.  She dreams of one day opening up a farm to table cafe.



How did you get into farming?  I was rooftop gardening in NYC and found it really rewarding to grow my own food.  I wanted to learn how to grow food on a larger scale, and to experience a more rural lifestyle.  I grew up in LA and moved to the east coast after college.  I started working in television doing lighting for TV sets.  It wasn’t something I saw myself doing forever, so here I am.


What’s your favorite vegetable? How do you cook with it?  Mashed potatoes.  Sauteed kale with salt, pepper and nutritional yeast.  My absolute favorite would be brussels sprouts.  I par-boil them, slice in half, oven roast with salt&pepper, then add a dijon-mustard sauce.  I love to make chickpea cutlets with the brussels sprouts and potatoes on the side.  For the chickpea cutlets, I mash chickpeas and add wheat gluten to gel them together like steak.  Shape and fry them on a pan.


What role does farming play in your life?  Since I started farming, I have a sense of fulfillment that I didn’t have before.  I’m less reliant on others, less reliant on our out-of-touch food system, and that feels good.  When I came to Red Fire, I didn’t expect to feel so self-reliant and to turn my back so much on grocery stores.  It’s very satisfying to be able to harvest and bring home food that you planted from seed.

Before I started gardening, I didn’t realize that all foods have a season.  It’s not something you stop and think about, because everything is available in stores year round.  Now, I accept that when tomato season is over, I won’t eat a fresh tomato until the following summer.  Eating seasonally makes food taste better.  You can’t take produce for granted when growing it yourself, because there’s such a short window when fruits and vegetables are ripe.  The first strawberry is so good, and it’s so special because you’ve waited a whole year for it!  I eat much more creatively and thoughtfully when I eat seasonally.  This year I’ve gotten into preserving and fermenting food.  I’m experimenting with pickling and making kim chi.  Preserving is also really satisfying.  In this way too, I’m becoming less reliant on food products that travel from far away lands.