2017 Farmer All-Star: Jubilee Farm
For 12 years Brett Ellison worked with the Channing Brothers at Gemini Farm. When they started, fellow Farmer All Star, Ric Gaudet of One Straw Farm, was “quite an inspiration to us. We would see his stand and just be amazed at the bounty and the quality of his produce.” At the time, Gemini did much of their farming utilizing animals. It “was probably some of the more magical moments of farming for myself. The bond, the productivity is incredible.”
Brett started Jubilee in 2013, which now operates on seven different locations between Chimayo and Las Trampas, growing mostly root crops and winter squash, as well as beans, corn, and other produce. “We leave the chili to the real Chimayosos.” They have adopted watering systems traditional to New Mexico, doing flood irrigation with acequias. Occasionally they will use overhead sprinklers or soaker hoses to help with germination. “I stay away from drip. In my opinion, it is a highly wasteful material that doesn’t last. My overhead system I’ve had for 15 years and reuse every year and move around if I need to. It’s not as water conservant but at the same time, it’s durable and gets the job done.”
For Brett, farming is a lifestyle choice. “Having your office outside your front door, your daily commute is starting with the outhouse.” Jubilee Farm operates differently than many farms. “When you show up is when you’re meant to be here; you’re never late.” Because they operate at several locations they have coined the term “gypsy farming” where they take what they need to a given site, do the work, pack it up, and take it all home. “It’s added to a very unique and dynamic ability to develop farming systems that are remote and movable.” It’s also given them the advantage of having different micro-climates. Every field is different – the soil, the weather, the water sources.
Brett was able to achieve a life-long goal this year when he purchased his own property. “We’re looking forward to building a food forest, bringing diversity not only to our plates but yours. We’re looking forward to a lot of things like asparagus and extensive herb gardens; some mushroom logs just to kind of take the canvas of nature and play with it.”
Diversity is also one thing that Brett loves about the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. “When I go to Market I can pretty much get everything that I need for the week. It’s also the highest quality you could possibly find. I also like the community that we’ve developed – both customer-base and membership.” For Brett, people and community are key to creating sustainability. “We have a lot of educated, long-term farmers in our community. What I see most farms lacking is hands to do the work. If we have these farms that are producing food for hundreds of people and only two people are working on the farm, it kind of breaks the farmers down. I’m fortunate to have a great crew that I work with but we can always use another hand on the farm.” Brett has a work-for-lunch program at Jubilee. Come to the farm and work for the morning, and you get lunch and produce to take home. Anyone interested in participating should contact Brett directly. “We’ll set you up with a good day.”
Photos and video by Gabriella Marks Photography