A typical Saturday for Sara Berman ’07 begins with chickens, 25 to be exact. Each Saturday morning, she moves the chicken coop to a fresh plot in the hay field of Bellevue’s Squash Blossom Farm, a seven-acre property she and husband Ed Zinader purchased in 2014. In addition to eggs, the farm produces mixed vegetables, herbs, flowers, and berries.
“I get profound joy and satisfaction from growing food for myself and my community and have immense pride in eating the food that I produce,” said Sara. “In an increasingly globalized and industrialized world, I think it is extremely important for our personal health and greater culture to know where our food comes from. Small, sustainable farms like ours contribute to localizing our food system and inspire excitement for fresh, local, and sustainable food production.”
Squash Blossom Farm’s crops are 100 percent chemical-free and are sold locally (including the Ketchum Farmers’ Market this summer) and through direct marketing. Future plans for the property include two hoop houses (a type of greenhouse) to extend the growing season. Running a small sustainable, local farm is no easy task, but with farms like Squash Blossom becoming more popular, Sara hopes to reconnect people to the food they eat.
Sara’s passion for sustainable farming began with her Community School education. The former Cutthroat girls’ varsity soccer co-captain and SVSEF alpine racer credits a “Local Food Feast” in teacher Harry Weekes’s advanced biology class with directing her on the path of sustainable food and farming, a field she knew nothing about at that point. “That project was what originally opened my eyes to topics of food production and inspired me to pursue more experiences in agriculture. Community School definitely set me on a path to looking at the world through a lens of sustainability and environmental justice. It gave me the confidence and context to explore ideas of food and sustainability in my adult life.”
In 2007, Sara also earned the Idaho Mountain Express award for the student most likely to return and give back to the Wood River Valley, a distinction she has fulfilled. After graduating from Kenyon College with degrees in Spanish and environmental studies, Sara worked for Kenyon’s local food program and then spent eight months in South America working at a number of farms and ranches. The trip enriched her perspective of food systems and farming. “It is that connection and devotion to our community that drove me to return here and build a farm in our valley instead of elsewhere,“ said Sara. “In addition to contributing to our local food system, we hope the farm will also become a place for our community to come together and celebrate what our land can produce.”