Canning, Fermenting, and Running a CSA
5 Questions for Jeff Bressler
Jeff Bressler is from York, PA and graduated from Temple University with a major in environmental studies, and a minor in anthropology. His experiences during his collegiate career inspired him to learn about the processes and resources required to grow food. His research was dedicated to analyzing how human culture and society impacts nature. Jeff has a passion for growing organic food, and he now runs the CSA at Spoutwood Farm. His current interests include: decreasing reliance on disposable products, fermentation, canning, cooking, reduced till growing, integrated pest management, composting, and farm-to-table initiatives.
What work do you do and what lessons from Eco Practicum do you apply at your job?
I am the CSA and farm manager at Spoutwood Farm which includes a wide variety of responsibilities with the main focus on organic growing practices and distributing to members and local buyers. Eco Practicum fueled my passion in a way that empowered me to continue learning about how to grow my own food while challenging myself to develop a more holistic and eco-friendly lifestyle.
The lessons and experiences I enjoyed with Eco Practicum have helped to guide my journey to working here at Spoutwood. I still apply the information I learned, the realities I witnessed, and the emotions that surrounded all of it.
What are the most fulfilling and most challenging parts of what you do?
The most fulfilling part is the access to local, fresh, and Certified Naturally Grown produce that we provide to surrounding communities through our CSA, stores, and restaurants. The thought of providing nutritious food, while also preserving and improving the health of our soil and ecosystem is refreshing in a world where agriculture can be so damaging to our environment. The most challenging parts are relying on lots of manual labor, finding ways to keep our products as fresh as possible for our customers, preserving the harvests, and finding the right markets for our products.
Describe a moment or situation that helped you realize your passion?
After leaving the Catskills having experienced a whole lot in three weeks, I immediately immersed myself in actions and interests that were sparked in my mind and heart. I remember digging my first garden ever the morning after I returned home. I felt this new connection with nature that I had to be a part of because of how attached I had become to its positive energy and wonderful possibilities. I realized my passion was to continue developing this cultural and spiritual relationship with the natural world that connects all of us in many ways.
What advice do you have for people looking for meaningful work?
Anyone looking for meaningful work should do just that; find something meaningful that matters to you. Follow your dreams and imagine the person you strive to be. Think about the possibilities of your lifestyle changes and how your career might play a role in determining those. I interviewed a wise professor from England once during a project for an anthropology class on the culture of work in America. I will never forget how she mentioned that most students she was contacted by after graduation having trouble finding work were the ones that were too picky about finding their perfect "dream job." She gave me great advice when mentioning that there are so many gateways into your desired field. You have to accept that flexibility is essential, and if you do not make sacrifices you may even miss out on those special paths and journeys that could lead to ideal positions later in life.
What’s one thing you think everyone should know how to do?
I think everyone should know how to acquire some type of food, or at least know how to preserve food, by themselves, and for themselves and other families throughout their communities. Any aspect of the skills required to grow and raise our own food, harvest wild edible and/or medicinal plants, hunt or fish, and preserving by fermentation, canning, dehydrating, drying, etc. are so important for developing a lifestyle that is deeply connected to food. This passion for me is essential to developing a better lifestyle because it provides a connection to nature in a way that demonstrates how connected your health and survival is to the health of your food and surrounding environment.
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