Farmington native Brittany Gauthier wanted to experience what it would be like to work on a farm, to be directly involved with the food she ate. A history of farming on her mother’s side of the family and her early career as an educator for Whole Foods Market had given rise to this curiosity, although it took her a few years to actually get her hands in the soil. In 2017, she sent letters of inquiry to several area farms and Holcomb’s Joe O’Grady responded right away.
“I fell in love with Holcomb Farm,” Gauthier says regarding her first visit. “The people, the endless beauty and the energy were magnetic.” Her initial work was out in the fields on Saturdays, later moving indoors to help out when the farm store was open. She was so focused on her volunteer work that she had no idea the farm was more than just growing and selling the vegetables and running the CSA.
It was shortly after the damaging hail storm of two years ago that she became aware of the Friends board, having received an email requesting financial help to get the damaged farm structures up and running again. Her subsequent donation acquainted her with the organization whose purpose was to support the farm and to provide fresh produce for those for whom it would normally be difficult to procure by way of the Fresh Access program. In 2020, she joined the board of the Friends of Holcomb Farm in order to help the farm grow.
Currently, she assists Mark Fiorentino with the Fresh Access program. She says, “The work is essential. I joined the board to ensure food security for our community and to assist with healthy soil production so the land can be protected and used for years to come.” Fiorentino says, “I’m excited to be working with Brittany. Her passion and energy have been invaluable as we continue to grow our Fresh Access program. We’re extremely lucky to have her. “
Gauthier began her working career at Whole Foods. It was in her six years there that she began her love affair with healthy organic food, but moved on to other jobs. One was with a startup nonprofit where she helped new businesses access resources; another saw her as managing director of an arts-based non-profit. Although the farming community may have been new to her, it’s clear she has had plenty of experience in the non-profit world.
When she’s not at the farm or working in Fresh Access, Gauthier enjoys yoga—both as a student and a teacher of the discipline. She stays active hiking and bicycling, and taught modern dance at Ethel Walker for 10 years. She loves to travel and visit antique stores. She lives with her family and her sweet pup named Duck, who was rescued on a Hartford street in front of a duck pin bowling alley.