Our “Meet Your Farmer” segment offers an introduction to individuals who support our CORV local food scene. We had the pleasure of interviewing Megan Gambrill, garden manager of Carriage House Farms in North Bend, Ohio. Carriage House Farm is a local producer of fresh, healthy produce, herbs, grains, and honey.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m originally from the DC area. In 2008 my husband-to-be asked me if I wanted to move to Cincinnati and I thought, sure, it’ll be the first step on our migration west. Nearly ten years later, we own a home in Loveland and have an 18 month old for whom Ohio (and our VW Vanagon) is home.
How did you get into farming?
I was working in microenterprise development, and the opportunity to move to Ohio gave me a chance to see if that dream of farming was just a dream or could be a reality. I took an apprenticeship at Turner Farm and decided that this was the life for me – after I make some money and can buy some land. But that was the peak of the recession, and I was lucky to be able to continue working at Turner Farm. 2012 was my first full season managing vegetable production there.
What advice would you give someone interested in getting into vegetable farming?
People can over-romanticize things pretty easily. Just because you love doing it in your backyard doesn’t mean you’re going to love doing it as a full-time job where you have to make money in a very low-margin industry. It’s really important to have a solid business head (and a solid head!) on your shoulders – because it is a business. One must be open-eyed about the good and the bad that comes with every pursuit, and in farming, the rewards come not from your “extra-curriculars” but from the joy of hard work, being outside, and pushing your mind and body more than you ever thought possible.
To be straight to the point: Go work on a couple of farms for a couple of years before you decide on a career change. There you will discover whether it is work that you love or if you would prefer to have the most beautiful homestead or backyard garden you can imagine.
Where can people get Carriage House produce and products?
We sell at Findlay Market on Saturdays, and this spring we are opening our on-farm market. We have a vegetable CSA with pickups at the farm and at Findlay. You can find our honey at many local stores from Humbert Meats to Whole Foods, cornmeal in a variety of places as well, plus we sell to restaurants and households via Ohio Valley Food Connection. We also host chef-led on-farm dinners that you can purchase tickets to on our website, carriagehousefarmllc.com.
What’s your favorite aspect of being a garden manager?
Where to start? I learned early on that I can’t sit at a desk all day, and I’ve always been a plant nerd. I love feeling connected to the world around me in a way that forces me always observe, always pay attention to the forest and the trees. The different things that are important to me can change in an hour (in the greenhouse) or over many years (as the soil evolves with us). And I am always, always learning.
What would you say is Carriage House’s best-kept secret or something you want more people to know about the farm?
As I just started at the farm last year, I am still discovering its secrets. One of my great pleasures in the morning is seeing the horses run out to the pasture. First you hear them, the thump of the hooves, then you look up and see just utter joy in motion. And the soil is amazing. I feel so lucky every day to dig my fingers in there.
Any final thoughts you would like the readers to know?
One of the greatest conundrums is how to price things so that everyone can enjoy the food, and we can eat too. Fairness in food is an extremely complex subject.
Haley Shutter has worked as a director of a childcare center, developing the nutrition and children’s garden programs. She enjoys volunteering for the leadership board of Granny’s Garden School in Loveland, OH.