New Roots and New Traditions: One Young Farm’s Vision for a More Delicious, More Connected, More Salad-Filled World (2024)

“Welcome to Salad Paradise” reads the homepage of New Tradition Farm, owned, operated, and stewarded by Stoni Tomson. “I became a farmer because I love eating, feeding people, and basking in the glory of our Earth. New Tradition Farm is an expression of that love. It’s also a way to turn dreams for a better world into flavorful action right here in Huntington, VT!” Stoni writes. “Let’s eat our way to a better world and create some new traditions together.”

New Roots and New Traditions: One Young Farm’s Vision for a More Delicious, More Connected, More Salad-Filled World (1)

Stoni Tomson, a graduate of NOFA-VT’s Farm Beginnings program and current participant in our Journey Farmer program, brings immense passion and a deep work ethic to their stewardship of the land and ecosystems, and their production of delicious vegetables. Stoni grows salad vegetables for a CSA, two farmers markets, and the Williston Food Shelf, and recently added a sizeable perennial planting of plums, pears, peaches, cherries, hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts, American persimmons paw paws, blueberries, raspberries, goumi berries and more. Now in addition to quick salad crops that may be in and out of the field in 40-60 days, Stoni half-jokes that they are setting up for the long haul by stewarding crops that will hopefully stick around for the next 500 years.

Despite the farm’s focus on salad vegetables, Stoni shared on a recent farm tour that cover crops are their favorite crop of all, an illustration of Stoni’s dedication to soil health. “They are so hopeful!” Stoni said, with a happy grin. Stoni also uses deep compost, plantings to attract beneficial insects, living pathways, and a variety of other practices to build organic matter and prioritize the health of the soil. New Tradition Farm is in its fourth season, but its first season in its current location, and Stoni is in the process of getting to know the land and working to build the soil’s organic matter. This is work that Stoni takes great pride in as a farmer.

“Dear Salad Lover, I love to eat,” writes Stoni, “One of my earliest memories is of my aunt spoon-feeding me and exclaiming, ‘Such a good eater!’ Beyond that, I know good food is sacred. As I grew up, though, I became aware of the ugly injustices of the industrial food system. I saw that I could join the movement of small-scale organic farmers and conscious eaters who are creating a delicious alternative. After working on a diverse array of small organic farms around the country since 2016, I am so grateful to be kicking off my 4th season as New Tradition Farm.”

New Roots and New Traditions: One Young Farm’s Vision for a More Delicious, More Connected, More Salad-Filled World (2)

When asked about their greatest challenges, Stoni shared land access at the top of the list. Stoni went through an incredibly challenging shift to find a home for New Tradition Farm as they navigated losing the leased land where the farm began and starting anew in its current location at Jubilee Farm in Huntington. This shift had both physical and emotional implications. However, the experience also brought some priorities to light, such as the importance of tending to mental health, learning to ask for help, learning to reframe failure as a learning opportunity, and learning to take the long view (hence the chestnut planting).

Three years after completing the Farm Beginnings program, the biggest support for Stoni are the people and connections made through the cohort of farmers in the program. Stoni formed relationships with other growers that continue today. These fellow beginning farmers have supported Stoni in a variety of ways to continue developing and visioning for New Tradition Farm, including showing up to help relocate the farm last year and participating in a visioning session for the newly leased land where the perennial planting went in.

"Starting a farm challenged every fiber of my being in ways I couldn't have imagined,” Stoni shared during a recent farm visit. “Going through the Farm Beginnings program helped me break down the challenges into distinct and manageable topics. It also connected me to amazing peers, mentors, and technical service providers throughout the state."

It’s clear that people and relationships are central to everything Stoni does on the farm. When asked about what keeps them farming, they instantly replied, “People!” Stoni loves vending at farmers markets, chatting with customers, sharing their farming practices, delivering fresh food to the food shelf, and enjoying the pleased expressions on peoples' faces when they taste delicious farm-fresh vegetables.

“At its heart, New Tradition Farm is a call to action for a better, tastier world. Don’t you think we need some new traditions in our culture and our food system? I do.” Stoni writes on the New Tradition Farm website. “We as a society have been destroying our Earth, destroying each other, and eating really gross, toxic, lifeless food as we do so. New Tradition Farm calls on us--as salad farmers and salad eaters--to flip the script together and instead create traditions of nurturing the Earth, nurturing our communities, and eating really delicious, life-giving food while we do it.”

**Applications for NOFA-VT’s Farm Beginnings and Journey Farmer programs open mid-August. Please visit their respective links to learn more and sign up to be notified when applications open.**

New Roots and New Traditions: One Young Farm’s Vision for a More Delicious, More Connected, More Salad-Filled World (3)

New Roots and New Traditions: One Young Farm’s Vision for a More Delicious, More Connected, More Salad-Filled World (2024)
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