About Drew and Jessie
We began our farming journey while living in Baltimore City. Drew and a friend built a strongly fortified coop (read: overkill!) and 8 baby chicks were purchased and raised in the front bedroom. (Lesson #1: Never keep chicks in your house. Very messy endeavor!) Five months later, we were enjoying delicious eggs from our backyard hens and wondering why we hadn’t gotten chickens sooner.
That first flock became an inspiration of sorts. Drew had always wanted to own a restaurant and be his own boss. After reading the book You Can Farm by Joel Salatin, a new dream began to take shape. What if instead of a restaurant, we tried our hand at farming, specifically at growing pasture raised animals? We were mindful of wanting to know where OUR food came from, and saw that other people were concerned about that too. (Lesson #2: Don’t watch Food Inc. or read Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan if you don’t want to do some serious thinking about the food industry!) We could start small and see where it led.
At the same time, it seemed a move was on the horizon. City life was awesome, but living closer to nature and the water felt like a good choice, too. We were willing to give it a go, despite not knowing exactly how it would work out or where we would end up. So, we made a five-year plan to move. Five years, however, turned into two, and after only a few months of looking, we found a property in Cecil County that seemed like it could work. It wasn’t perfect but it was affordable, in a great location, and felt right. In Summer 2015 we packed everything up with our two daughters in tow and drove an hour north and across the beautiful Chesapeake City bridge to our new home: Jade Farm. (It took awhile to come up with our farm name. We had a lot of people brainstorming ideas. A very special person in our lives came up with Jade Farm. She arrived at this word using a combination of the initials in our names- Jessie, Aggie, Drew, Ellie.)
We quickly fell in love with the quiet pace of life on the Eastern shore and began the process of turning our property into a farm. We began clearing land––by hand. (Lesson #3: A good chainsaw (or four) is worth its weight in gold.) In our first three years we built two coops and purchased many feet of electric fencing. We built a special brooder house to help keep our baby chicks happy and healthy until they were ready to go out to pasture. Two years later in Summer 2017, we began in earnest to raise and harvest pasture raised meat birds. We also adopted two cute and ornery goats that did a bang up job clearing all sorts of land. (Lesson #4: Goats do not eat tin cans, but they will try to open any door!)
In 2019 we began our pig adventure and purchased 3 of the cutest Kunekune pigs you ever did see. (Lesson #5: DON'T NAME YOUR PIGS!) That same year we joined the Overlea Farmer's Market in Baltimore and also began selling to a local grocery. In 2020 we raised and processed (on site) almost 1,000 meat birds in addition to turkeys and ducks. We also added duck eggs to our product list! (Lesson #6: Ducks like to lay their eggs IN THE POND so be prepared.) We cleared a lot of land that year for pasture thanks to the purchase of a John Deere tractor. (Lesson #7: MUCH easier than hand-clearing anything.)
Since then we have continued to raise and process chickens, turkeys, and ducks as well as around 10 pigs a year; only the pigs are processed by a local butcher. In Summer 2022 we took the leap and purchased a family group of pigs to breed. (Addendum to Lesson #5: It’s okay to name them if they live on your farm year round.😉) These animals come from an amazing farmer who took great pride in the excellent quality of his pigs. They are good natured, excellent mothers, and bred to be able to forage, farrow, and live in the woods. (Lesson #8: Find a good mentor who is willing to answer all your most ridiculous questions.) We have three mama pigs: Maisie, Marge and Roxie, and two daddies: Pickle and Dill. In December 2022 we welcomed our first two litters of piglets born on the farm. SIXTEEN TOTAL!
Also in Summer 2022 we joined the Chestertown Farmers Market while also continuing to vend at Overlea. One big accomplishment is opening our online farm store so that we can take online orders and make home deliveries! Our business is growing! (And oh yeah– we also keep bees! Four hives strong and honey harvest to boot.)
We are proud of how we raise our animals and grateful to be able to do this important work every day. It’s been a great ride so far with lots of learning curves and many fun adventures. It’s lots of hard work but those same moments are coupled with joyous ones, too. (Lesson #9: Watching baby piglets play could be one of the best things you’ll ever see.) Come on by and see us! We would love to show you our happy mess. :)