This article originally ran in the fall 2017 issue of New Farm Magazine, the magazine of Organic Farmers Association. All OFA members receive a complimentary issue of New Farm twice per year. Click here to sign up!
Meet Jill and Eric Skokan of Black Cat Farm in Boulder, CO
Why did you become farmers?
Eric: Jill and I own and operate two res- taurants, and we decided that we could no longer serve mediocre produce to people in our community. We started growing food our- selves so we’d get the varieties and quality we wanted, picked fresh. We quickly evolved from a large garden to a small farm.
Why did you choose to get organic certifica- tion for your farm?
Eric: The gate to our farm has always been open, and we’re known and trusted in our community. Now that we sell our products to a wider region, the label is for people who don’t know us or our reputation.
Jill: From a logistics perspective, organic certification helps us because it increases our access to land for leasing. Here in Boulder, the community has voted to sup- port organic agriculture, so the certification opens doors [to more land] for us.
What are your toughest challenges?
Eric: Organic farming is labor-intensive, and organic farmers already have a chronic labor shortage. Policies affecting migrant workers could make the problem much worse.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started?
Eric: You can design farming systems that do a lot of work for you. We raise hogs on pasture for their help with build- ing the soil. They’re 160-pound manure spreaders that walk.
What do you find most rewarding about being organic farmers?
Eric: Personally, I love quiet mornings as I’m working around the farm and thinking about what food I’m going to make that day. Jill: The farm is the next step to what we do at the restaurants—bringing good food to people. It feels like a responsibility to me.
Why was it important to you to join OFA?
Jill: We wanted to be part of the organic- farming community. We’re a minority in agriculture, but we believe in the power of people working together.
To join the Skokans as members of Organic Farmers Association, go to OrganicFarmersAssociation.org.