The Lagans: a family affair

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Photo by Shirley Murtha

Caleb Lagan helps his sister Sarah hang the harvested garlic in the barn at Holcomb Farm to dry.

When she was 13 years old, Sarah Lagan was recruited by her brother Caleb to help out with an exceedingly abundant tomato harvest at Holcomb Farm. She enjoyed the experience so much that she continued for the next three summers as she attended the Master’s School, from which she has just graduated. She plans to attend Cedarville University in Ohio in the fall, where she will study to become an athletic trainer. What does that have to do with farming? Not a lot, but she enjoys the farm culture and being able to be outside not far from home. She likes the feeling of accomplishment she gets when she can successfully complete whatever tasks Farmer Joe asks her to do.

Caleb got a degree in history at Thomas Edison University in 2013, and started working at the Farm in February of 2015. He had checked out several other area farms, but Joe’s personality and the Farm itself won him over. He worked here until August of 2016 when he headed off to China to teach English to primary school children, a job recommended to him and facilitated for him by a Chinese woman who was also working here on the Farm.

In June of 2018, Caleb left China, arriving in California, where he stayed until he graduated from Biola University with a master’s degree in education. He is putting his education to good use as the international student coordinator for the Master’s School where Sarah attended. He helps with applications, arranges appointments, does Visa paperwork, updates the website….and still puts in his hours at the Farm. In addition to good food and decent pay, just being outside and getting exercise and working with a great crew are the factors that keep him here.

When asked if there were any downsides to working on the Farm, Caleb had to think for a minute and decided that harvesting cucumbers was his least favorite thing to do, mainly because it bothers his back. He also noted that once in a while, a customer in the farm store is less than pleasant, and that’s not fun. He noted, however, that every year the Farm itself gets better and better: a cement floor in the barn, a new tractor, a new method for doing something that makes it easier.

Sarah also appreciates the great farm community and Joe’s teaching ability. For her, the downsides include bad weather (rainy days, hot temperatures) and weaving tomatoes, which is a process of supporting the growing plants with string in their rows, Sarah also noted that the extra work of sanitizing the produce bins, thanks to COVID-19, although necessary, takes a lot of extra time.

When not working, Sarah likes to find a pick-up soccer game or some Ultimate Frisbee. She noted that she likes to read historical fiction, but hasn’t had much time for that lately.

As for Caleb, he is studying Chinese. Also, right after a work day at the Farm, he can stay in touch with the parents of his Chinese students, as they are just starting their day on the other side of the globe.

Holcomb Farm is lucky to have these two well-rounded enthusiastic siblings on its crew.