We sat down with Rebecca from the Button Factory Farm out of Higganum, CT. Find her beautiful produce at the Wooster Square Farmers Market every Saturday!
1. How did your farm get started? How did you first get into farming?
I have always gardened, before it was just for our family and friends. I learned to can and freeze vegetables from my mother who learned from her mother. As a result we have enjoyed the fruits of our labor year round. I started doing mushrooms around 2000. My oldest daughter thought that it would be a good idea to keep me busy since all of our children had moved out of the house. I guess that she thought we would get lonely and lazy. When my husband retired he started working with me “full time” on the logs and gardens. Some days I think that he misses his old business.
2. Describe daily life as a farmer.
We are up early checking the chickens, checking the mushroom logs, turning on the irrigation, hand watering certain beds, checking the greenhouse, and then the fun task of picking bugs off of plants and logs – then it is about 8:00am. Depending on the day, it will be weeding (every day), seeding, or transplanting, putting logs in to soak or re-stacking them, and then on Thursday and Friday, harvesting for Saturday’s market.
3. What’s unique about your farm?
I would say that the Shiitake mushrooms are the unique factor. When I first started there was one other person in the state who was growing shiitakes like I was. Now there are many more people enjoying the fungi life.
4. What’s the story behind your farm’s name?
The name “Button Factory Farm” comes from the button factory that functioned on our property back in the 1700’s. In the woods there are thousands of shell fragments from the shells that were used to make buttons. When our children were young they used to dig in the woods all the time and find the shells, now the chickens scratch them up. At times it looks like snow out back.
5. Tell me about your growing practices.
We grow our products utilizing organic practices. We do not use any sort of pesticides, or non-organic additives. We are very fortunate to have chickens that help with the great compost that we use. Bugs and weeds get picked and checked daily.
6. What is your favorite recipe/favorite product?
My favorite recipe would be with shiitakes and Swiss chard. I saute some garlic lightly, then add sliced shiitakes, cook for a short bit, then add the chopped up chard, cover and cook till it wilts, then put some crumbled feta cheese on top, cover again and turn off the heat and let the cheese soften. It is so good. We could eat that every night
7. What do you like to do when you have spare time?
In my spare time I like to play, play, play with my grandchildren, kayak, and weave
8. What are the best and hardest things about being in this industry?
The best part is sharing the products with customers and showing them new things that they never thought they would like, and then having them come back to try something else new. The hardest part is the unknown of nature, and the curve balls that it can throw at you. Like why aren’t my mushrooms growing this week, or how did the rabbit get through the fence, past the dogs, and was able to eat all of my bean plants? Fun things like that, that I have little to no control over.