Kate Friesen • The Good of Goshen

Kate Friesen

Co-owner, Singletree Farm

Published Feb. 2019

I’ve always liked gardening and I grew up growing flowers with my mom. I moved here from Archbold, Ohio, to attend Goshen College, where I graduated in 2014. I left and volunteered for a year, and then moved back to this area to work at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College. I worked there for two years and left to start farming with my spouse, Scott. Our farm is called Singletree Farm!

I used to grow vegetables at Merry Lea and thought I’d continue doing that until Phoebe Brubaker of Flowers by Phoebe called in 2016. I started as a farm manager for her and then got sucked into the shop designing with her. Just this year Phoebe took over the design work, so Scott and I are running the farm and I work part-time as a florist.

Farming is always a surprise. It can feel like so much of what I do is experimenting. Some crops I know I can do, but the fun part is trying new crops. Weather affects a lot, so even if I think I have something planned and I have a garden map, by July it can look totally different. There’s only so much you can control, and then you cross your fingers for the rest of it.

My advice for starting something like this is that it’s helpful to start small. Pick five varieties that you love and want to try, and then read about them. There are so many great online resources and resources in Goshen. There’s a Master Gardeners club here. So ask around and just try it. Know that some things will die and others will just blow your mind. Make sure it’s fun and just enjoy the process. It’s always fun to see the blooms, but you have to find joy in the hard work as well.

Scott and I just bought an acre of land in Benton. We’ve been growing on rented land but now we have our own plot, so hopefully within the next five years that’ll be developed. We’re building a house as well and want to put up at least one greenhouse. It’s a huge project, but it’s super exciting to decide where we want perennials and annuals. Professionally, I’m still learning about elements of business. I feel comfortable agriculturally, but marketing and handling the business side is something I’m still growing.

Goshen is such a supportive community for small farmers, and I think the Amish have quite a bit to do with that. There’s a lot of great shops that sell smaller quantities of things like roll cover or fertilizer. There’s a lot of people gardening, and there’s a small farm culture here that cares. There are things you can really plug into here. The Great Lakes region is a great place for us farmers!

Editor • Maddie Yost, Scott Weisser
Interview + Photography • Olivia Copsey

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