Meet Deirdre & Trey Flemming, two ecologists who both interned on farms as part of their college studies and, as a result, ultimately discovered they wanted something more than a traditional desk career. They now run Two Gander, a flourishing organic produce farm and apiary set against the stunning backdrop of the Brandywine watershed in Downingtown, PA.
As Deirdre puts it:
“[F]or both of us, it started with a summer internship that was supposed to be a temporary exploration into something that we were both interested in. Neither of us thought these experiences would turn into a farming career… I took a temporary break for a year and a half to teach environmental education, but found I was always trying to get back to the farm. We both found that organic farming was a way to apply the ecological principles we knew from our previous careers to the production of sustainable food. What keeps me in love with farming is the way we get to experience time. Plant growth cycles and the seasons dictate the rhythm of our entire life. All of our senses are fully engaged every day, as we have to observe environmental changes that signal our decision making processes. It forces me to be present in a way that no other experience has. Farming is the most challenging thing we have ever done, both physically and mentally, but we feel that it is a true privilege to spend our lives so close to nature and to friends and customers that share our values.”
By happy coincidence, the Flemmings have forged a symbiotic work relationship with the Brandywine Conservancy, from which they currently lease their land. Two Gander is run organically to keep the land and water clean because that’s Deirdre’s and Trey’s personal way of life, and the Conservancy in return can rest assured that their tenants are not just farmers, but actual stewards of their property with a genuine interest in helping it thrive. An alignment of ideals if ever there was one.
Even if you didn’t know their backstory, it’s quite clear to see that Deirdre and Trey truly believe in the work that they do, difficult as it may be. Nobody ever goes into farming because they want the easy way out, and the Flemmings seem embrace the challenges of farm life with open arms. Deirdre once joked to me that, during the busy season, the only way they’re able to actually taste their own vegetables is by eating at the local restaurants who buy from them, because they don’t actually have enough time to cook for themselves. (Not necessarily a bad spot to be in, though, when your restaurant clients include the ever-popular Victory Brewing Company and Amani's BYOB.)
But don’t let their drive and determination fool you; these two are also warm, intelligent people who clearly care about not just the land, but also the people working alongside them to keep the farm going. They take pride in treating their employees well, and it shows: everyone on their team was happy, friendly and welcoming on each of my visits there.
It's my honor to have had the chance to capture this vignette of their 2014 tomato harvest. If you’re local, be sure to stop by their stand at Growing Roots Partner’s Downingtown Farmer’s Market on Saturdays; you can also find their produce and honey at a number of other markets and retailers in the area.
To find out more about Two Gander Farm: