by Jenn Rein
photos by Kisa Koening
Erika Eschholz knows the dirt in Teton Valley. After all, she’s been digging in it for sixteen years– eleven at Cosmic Apple Gardens and five at Snowdrift Farms.
Today, Eschholz and partner Ken Michael are digging into a new endeavor that will feed their passion for organic farming and foster education and growth within the community. Full Circle Farm, a stone’s throw away from the Victor Cemetery on the former Blue Flax Farm property, is now up and running. And the property is getting the full treatment from Eschholz. On a recent bluebird morning, I found her on a tractor, slowly working the soil and applying a practice that, long ago, became second nature.
But this agricultural foundation—certainly a lifestyle choice—would mean little to Eschholz if she could not teach the benefits of organic farming to others. So, in 2006, she started Full Circle Education, a non-profit organization that teaches sustainable living through the cultivation of organic produce and farming methods. The children taught through the Full Circle program are exposed to different methods of farming in order to obtain a global perspective of how food lands on our plates. “Having the [new] farm will ensure that the kids will always have a place to learn…” Eschholz explains.
Full Circle Education has built a strong rapport with local schools on both sides of the Tetons through their offerings of ag-centric educational programming. In the past, Eschholz was able to partner with other local farms for her the curriculum needs. But now, the Full Circle Farm will provide a backbone for the program, while Eschholz continues to foster her relationship with area farms.
Full Circle Farm has barely dipped into its first season and is already a success. CSA shares were sold-out by mid-April. The average consumer, however, can obtain Full Circle’s yield at the People’s Market on Wednesdays, at the base of Snow King. And for those who want to get down and dirty, workshare opportunities still exist. “…This isn’t your average workshare,” Eschholz explains. The farm needs people who are dedicated to learning the finer details of biodynamics and organic certification.
Farm workshops will be offered in the coming months and opportunities to “shop the farm” include weekly egg pick-ups. You can also arrange a farm tour through their website. Or, if you happen to be near the peaceful parcel that is the Victor Cemetery (Eschholz refers to them as “the quietest neighbors on the block”), stop by to say “hi”. Odds are you may learn a thing or two.
Jenn Rein has lived and worked in Teton Valley since 2006 in a variety of different roles (she recently added baby chicken-sitter to her resumé). You can read more of her writing at http://jennrein.com.