BEEN FARMING SINCE: he was in his short pants. Joel grew up homesteading with chickens and dairy cows, then worked on an organic veggie CSA, did land management for an Albemarle county estate owner, made hay, and dabbled in poultry production with a friend before starting the Grass Farm in 2010.

ORIGINALLY FROM: Free Union, VA

IN CHARGE OF THINGS LIKE: Being the farm daddy, making the full season master plan, Instagram stardom, procuring piglets, chicken killing, weird map drawing, taste testing, paying the feed bill on time, hauling all the hay, scheduling the week, and making sure everyone goes pond swimming in high summer.

INTERESTED IN: large platters of grilled chicken, cheese, extensive chats with the feed delivery guy, canoeing the back pasture during floods, happy hour cow checks in the Mule, coffee at the country store, debating the importance of sunscreen, mariachi music, OBX, and making absurdly tall towers of poultry crates.

  • Instagram - White Circle
JOEL SLEZAK

Co-Founder

Farm Manager

  • Instagram - White Circle

BEEN FARMING SINCE: 2003, on a hot sweaty veggie farm in the Bible Belt. Erica studied environmental education at Warren Wilson College, where she worked on the school's garden crew, and did internships at Polyface Farm, The Kerr Center for Sust. Agriciulture, and Caromont Farm before starting the Grass Farm in 2010.

ORIGINALLY FROM: Tulsa, OK

IN CHARGE OF THINGS LIKE: answering all the emails, castration, making the website, communicating with chefs (mostly in emojis), bank stuff, accounting stuff, deliveries, wrastlin' payment from forgetful folks, marketing, keeping the towers of meat boxes organized in the walk-in, and getting stuff fixed when it breaks.

INTERESTED IN: eating the oysters off a fresh roasted chicken, backing up trailers, the sound of cows chomping grass in a new paddock, branding and design, working cattle, building stuff,  seeing a calf nurse for the first time, Duke's mayo, and connecting with customers at farmer's market.

ERICA HELLEN
Co-Founder

FARMING EXPERIENCE: After graduating from UVA in 2011, Lauren moved to rural Georgia, where she managed a veggie CSA and interned at  a diverse livestock homestead. She also started her own small-scale operation, raising and selling pork and eggs. 2021 will be her seventh season farming, and her fourth season as part of the Grass Farm team.

ORIGINALLY FROM: Mechanicsville, VA

IN CHARGE OF THINGS LIKE: Moving the cows with an enviable swagger, making suspenders great again, breaking the fourth wall with her wry wit, and teaching us it's possible to cohabit with dogs even when you're allergic to them.

INTERESTED IN: Walking the cows down the road, getting really sweaty, opening animals up into a new paddock, deriving energy from sunlight, various feats of strength, and using cell phones as little as possible.

LAUREN READ

Assistant Manager

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FARMING EXPERIENCE: Before joining us at Free Union Grass Farm, Jack worked as an intern at Four Seasons Farm (the farm originally started by Eliot Coleman) in Harborside, Maine. He has also worked at vegetable farms in California, and in his time between internships he has traveled and volunteered at farms around the U.S.

ORIGINALLY FROM: California

IN CHARGE OF THINGS LIKE: Being a chores beast, finding the hypotenuse, researching new business ventures, contemplating efficiency and ergonomics, administering toilet-bowl-brush ear scratches to our sow mamas, revisualizing and organizing the tool shed, asking poignant questions, being a Gen Z, and classy grandpa humor. 

INTERESTED IN: Baking, basketball, hiking, and sustainable agriculture.

JACK VORSTER

Farmhand

ORIGINALLY FROM: Utah

IN CHARGE OF: Flower gardening and bouquet making, beautiful farm photography, making delicious cookie dough with duck fat, bedazzling chicken feet, knowing the birthdates of all the piglets, blasting dope jams on kill days, keeping the farm appropriately decorated for all the holidays.

INTERESTED IN: Hiking, gardening, preserving garden goods, dance parties.

M O L L Y  S C H W O E B E L

Farmhand

PART-TIME FARMHANDS

 

2019-2020 - Mason + Kat of Bear Bottom Farm

 
FORMER FARMHANDS

2020 - Rob Williams

2019 - Clair Embry

2018-2019 - Kimberly Hamil

2017-2019 Erin Kath

2016-2019 - Kelly Cahill

2018 - Lane Rylander

2017 - Lilly Emendy, Antonio Villa 

2016 - Katie Gualtieri, Kyle Petrozza 

2015-2017 - Haden Gooch

2014-2018 - Stephen Pulich

2014 - Zan McKenna, Dave Plummer

2013 - Andy Hannas, Emma Shirley

2012 - Johnny Little

2010 - Adam Geilker

Crew pics by Kyle Petrozza @kylepetrozza
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THE FARMERS