Katherine Lesh, local farmer, mother, and owner of The Farm Cart, tells us a little more about life as a farmer and an entrepreneur.
Women’s Heritage Skillshare: Your family owns Shepherd Farms – farming runs in your blood. Did you always know you’d grow up to be a farmer?
Katherine Lesh: Ha! I NEVER thought I would be a farmer!! I never really had a career dream growing up but I sure didn’t think I would end up as a farmer. I’m stoked though, it’s a good life.
WHS: Farming for a living sounds so romantic and ideal, but of course it’s not easy – aside from the early mornings and the long hours, what’s the hardest part of your job?
KL: The hardest part of my job is trying to educate the public about the organic/local food movement without crossing the line. It’s so hard when you’re standing there in the rain in the middle of January and a customer asks for tomatoes and then walks away when you tell them they’re out of season. Meanwhile my shoes are soaked through to my socks and I’m just begging them to buy a carrot from me!
WHS: Shoes soaked through to your socks, and a baby strapped to your back! I’ll buy a carrot from you! What’s the best part of your job, then?
KL: The best part of my job is watching customers get excited about our produce. It’s incredible to hear the customer be so passionate about what they’re going to cook for dinner and share recipes with other patrons.
WHS: Tell us about The Farm Cart and the inspiration behind it.
KL: My parents used to own and run the farm cart back in the day. It closed down when the property changed owners and they were forced to leave. My husband and I re-opened it. Our goal is to provide the freshest organic produce our region has to offer. We work with the best organic growers to have the best variety around. Before we opened the Farm Cart, we thought it would be a small simple business. Boy were we wrong! 3 years later and it’s finally manageable!
WHS: So, what exactly is this CSA program you offer?
KL: We offer a weekly subscription farm box for only $18 a week! It’s a bitchin’ deal. In your box you will always find a head of lettuce, bunches of greens, a root crop, a vegetable, fruits, an allium and herbs. The box is a great program because it forces you to eat in season and inspires you to try new recipes that you wouldn’t try otherwise.
WHS: That sounds amazing! So you just sign up online or at the cart and for $18 a week you get a box full of fresh produce. We have to ask: your daughter has a really unique name. How did you come up with it?
KL: Chandler is named after the strawberry variety: Chandler. My dad, Tom, was growing Chandlers forever up until about eight years ago. He hasn’t grown them since until I was pregnant with Chandler. He didn’t even know that was her name. What a coincidence!
WHS: Sweet! Sounds like it was meant to be. So when you are not on the farm, or working the cart, what do you like to do?
KL: When I’m not on the farm or on the cart I like to do nothing! I know that sounds ridiculous but I work and talk to so many people and think so much that when I don’t have to I want to just zone out and enjoy Chandler. We usually just go on walks, make food, and go on bike rides. I also like brewing my own kombucha and setting goals.
WHS: Goals? Tell us more. What are your future plans?
KL: Our plans until our children are done with school is to start as many businesses as possible that make a difference in the community & world. My dream is to have a woman’s clothing brand and lifestyle store, also to have a small natural foods store. I want to raise healthy children and see them create their own unique inspiring lifestyle.
WHS: That sounds so good! Keep us posted on your new ventures!
You can visit Katherine (and grab a bunch of carrots while you’re at it) on Carpinteria Ave., next to the Friends of the Library Bookstore in Carpinteria. Let’s support our local mama-farmers!