Roots to Renewal
Roots to Renewal
Dec 7, 2021
Episode Nine: The Art of Farming with Hawthorne Valley's Spencer Fenniman and Jess Brobst
Play • 32 min

Sponsored by Tierra Farm; Music by Aaron Dessner

In this episode, we stayed in our own back yard – right here on Hawthorne Valley’s 900-acre Biodynamic farm. Hawthorne Valley’s Executive Director Martin Ping sat down with Spencer Fenniman, Director of Farm Operations, and Jess Brobst, our Dairy Herd Manager. Together they discuss the essence of biodynamic farming, the pedagogical function of the Farm, and the role of art on the Farm. 

We are very excited to share this behind the scenes glimpse and for you to hear firsthand the intentionality and profound thought that goes into biodynamic farming. We are grateful to Spencer and Jess for taking time out of their long and incredibly busy days to share their perspectives, and are filled with gratitude for their many contributions to Hawthorne Valley.

Spencer Fenniman (he/him) is the Farming Director at Hawthorne Valley Farm. He has managed fields and fertility at Hawthorne Valley since arriving in 2012. As a younger person, his studies in Anthropology, food geography, and something-useful-to-do-outside-ski-season led him to a series of organic and biodynamic farming apprenticeships. The more he practices nature-based farming, the more he appreciates the land and the deep knowledge, listening, creativity and dedication of his agricultural teachers. For Spencer, biodynamic farming is a way of life based in connection, and managing the soil, the livestock and the ecology in a holistic manner provides the fertile grounds for personal, productive and pedagogical connection. He lives in sight of the farm with his wife and 2 children.

Jess Brobst  Hawthorne Valley Farm as a whole farm apprentice in 2016 before moving up the ranks to herd manager in 2018. Jess grew up on a farm in West Virginia and comes with a lot of experience working with animals. She has an extraordinary work ethic and has an amazing way with cows. When she isn’t working on the farm with the dairy herd, Jess is at home making beautiful artwork, studying Waldorf pedagogy through Hawthorne Valley’s Alkion program or walking with her dogs, Nina and Josie.

Visit the farm's website.
Donate to Hawthorne Valley.

Thanks for listening to Hawthorne Valley’s Roots to Renewal podcast. We are an association comprised of a variety of interconnected initiatives that work collectively to meet our mission. You can learn more about our work by visiting our website at

Hawthorne Valley is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization, and we rely on the generosity of people like you to make our work a reality. Please consider making a donation to support us today. If you’d like to help us in other ways, please help us spread the word about this podcast by sharing it with your friends, and leaving us a rating and review.

If you'd like to follow the goings-on at the farm and our initiatives, follow us on Instagram!

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