Swallowtail Farm is located north of Alachua, along a fertile ridge of highland soil that crests the spine of Florida. We have crafted the farm as a model of sustainability and fine land stewardship, with a focus on appropriate scale, conservation of resources, and nature-produced fertility. No synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals will ever touch our fields or your food.
Noah Shitama was blessed with the arrival of his son Rain just a couple of years after graduating from Emory University. He was planting gardens and native landscapes for folks around Gainesville at the time, and felt further driven to provide better nourishment for his children. Inspired by the mentorship of Patrick Ross at Sandhill Farm, and after traveling the country with his family to visit and learn from farms near and far afield, he founded Swallowtail Farm in the Spring of 2009, hoping to complement the simultaneous effort of helping to establish a community-owned grocery, Citizens Co-op. It is his dream in practice that Swallowtail Farm becomes a model of authentic sustainability, a place of deep learning and healing, a source of true nourishment, and a reflection of the community that it serves.
Emily became interested in agriculture through her love of cooking and a feeling of dissatisfaction with the available ingredients. She also wanted to feel more connected to her planet and useful in the world; she felt she needed some skills in order to accomplish this. She began farming at swallowtail in 2010. A year later, she apprenticed for six months at One Drop Farm , a small family farm in Maine There she gained an even deeper appreciation for producing high quality, organically grown food. In the spring of 2014 Emily was accepted to an intensive dairy apprenticeship program at Temple-Wilton Community Farm, the oldest continually operating CSA in the US. Upon her return Emily, with overwhelming community support, has spearheaded the construction and management of a micro creamery at the farm. She manages the farm’s livestock with great care and creates amazing cheese, yogurt, and other delicious goodies.
Mariana Riehm is our commuting farmer, she lives in Gainesville technically, but really she lives at the farm! Mari is a sharp witted, iron pumping, tractor driving flower child. She is a dynamic human with many things to teach both on and off the farm. She is a kind and patient teacher of all things green and growing. Perhaps her most astounding ability is the sheer speed with which she moves. To keep up with this lady is a challenge worth taking on. Mari is the field manager and flower grower, plus about a million other things.
Joelle Jaskiel came to Swallowtail in 2014 as an apprentice interested in working with animals and quickly demonstrated herself as a quick learner, strong leader, and dedicated steward of the land and all its creatures. Now, Joelle manages the farm’s flock of laying hens, and co-manages our pigs, sheep, and cows. She also manages our Farm to Table dinner series, assists with all types of field work, and helps teach our crew of apprentices each season. She is a lady of many talents, and an amazing farmer.
Swallowtail Farm is possible in large part through the vision, generosity of heart, and cooperative spirits of Rick and Jane Nesbit, who own the land our farm is resident on. They are graciously partnering with Emily and I in the management of the farm as a whole, and have the foresight to see the farm as a beneficial complement to their home. It is with the utmost humility and gratitude that we grow food on their land without payment of lease or mortgage. In essence, they are thereby giving the great gift of facilitating our effort to produce the best food possible at a price that is accessible to the community. Farming on a small scale is increasingly obstructed by development and speculation, as these forces have made the cost of land prohibitive of itself. With this in mind, we consider it a blessing that our work has been relieved of this element of challenge.
- Noah Shitama