Jamie Baker of Primrose Valley Farm

In Her Boots

Jamie Baker of Primrose Valley Farm

By Lisa Kivirist | Photos By Anna Thomas Bates 0

Do you harbor a secret fantasy to start a farm but feel the pressure that life has passed you by? For a hefty dose of transformation inspiration, look to Jamie Baker of Primrose Valley Farm, near Belleville just north of New Glarus. Jamie and her husband, David Baker, vividly represent this new and vibrant agrarian sector as one-third of beginning farmers currently are over the age of 55, exemplifying this move into agriculture after retiring from a different career.

Jamie took her Chicago corporate careers in accounting, technology and teaching and, in 2007, made the leap to launching what is now a thriving certified organic farm operation raising 75 different produce varietals for 300 CSA member-families.  

Read on for a slice of the life of Jamie Baker.

Vision for your farm:
A big part of our decision to become farmers came from what we view as a broken food system. We wanted to make a difference and play a role in bringing about change, which we feel best comes from the ground up and armed in knowledge. So in addition to providing healthy food, we chose to have a focus and commitment to education on our farm. We were thrilled to host the first MOSES New Farmer Summit on our farm this past spring, creating an on-farm venue to gather over 120 beginning farmers for a full conference on an on-farm stetting.

Something a beginning farmer should always do:
Remember there are many paths and each will provide its own experiences on the journey. Don’t compare yourself to other operations. Create your own path.

Best birthday memory:
Being a Colorado kid, I’m a mountain climber. Years ago for our 50th birthdays, my sister and I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and trekked through the Serengeti.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning:
I usually wake up at 4:30 a.m., go through my lists to prioritize and determine what can slip by ‘til tomorrow, if needed, and count my blessings. Then it’s listen to the weather, coffee, breakfast and check the fields.

Favorite beverage:
Summer: Mojitos. Winter: A glass of red wine.

One thing you’d take to a deserted island:
For an inanimate object, it would be a first aid kit. For a person, I’d want my husband. He’s a good problem solver and would keep me feeling positive.

Weirdest farming experience:
The day our tractor spontaneously started and caught fire. It was a total loss and engulfed in flames by the time the fire department arrived. Thank goodness no one was in it and we had insurance; turned out it was a mechanical defect.

Source of inspiration:
I love Disney films with strong female characters like Pocahontas. She has wisdom beyond her years, displays kindness and guidance with strong convictions to protect the land.

Favorite way to eat what you grow:
Baked sweet potato fries and Honey Apple Cake (see recipe here!).

Favorite food you don’t grow:
Mushrooms, but I’m hoping to explore growing them this season.

Musical influences:
Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Beatles. My first crush was Paul McCartney.

What keeps you up at night:
Just about everything. I’m a mother and grandmother, so it’s kind of my job to worry about what the world will be like for them as they move through their journey.

Best advice your mother gave you:
You can be anything you want to if you set your mind to it and work for it.

Lisa Kivirist is a farmer, author, agriculture advocate, innkeeper, parent and zucchini enthusiast. Lisa thrives on diversity and is rooted on her family’s Wisconsin farm and B&B outside Monroe, called Inn Serendipity, completely powered by the wind and sun. Co-author of Farmstead Chef, Rural Renaissance and Ecopreneuring with her husband, John Ivanko, Lisa writes for publications ranging from Urban Farm to Hobby Farms and leads the MOSES Rural Women’s Project. She’s currently working on a new book, Homemade for Sale, a start-up guide for launching a food based business from your home.

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