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PROFILE: Roslyn McNicholl, Owner, Rabbit Fields Farm

Jan 7th, 2012 | Category: Community, Farms

by Cameron Deuel

Roslyn McNicholl remembers working in her parents’ garden as a young girl, creating a list of tasks to be done each day. “I’ve just always been interested in agriculture,” she says.

Roslyn McNicholl. PHOTO BY ASHLEY BENNETT

Her entry into the agricultural world was somewhat unintentional. McNicholl recalls looking for a way to spend her summers working outdoors while attending Western Washington University. “I was studying for my Business and Entrepreneurship degree,” says McNicholl, “but I started getting busy.” She began working with Broadleaf Farm alongside owner Dusty Williams to create a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA programs are somewhat common for farms since they allow a set amount of people to sign up for weekly boxes of produce from the farm.

McNicholl says that she wanted a small project to work on but it escalated quickly. “At first we had a few people we delivered to,” she recalls, “and it grew to be about 30 people. Before I knew it, the whole project had taken off!” McNicholl originally planned to go to culinary school after graduation but she became completely invested in working for the farm. Williams alloted McNicholl one-fourth of an acre of his land in order to continue and expand her CSA program. As the project grew, McNicholl found herself asking for more land.

“It’s crazy to look back on now,” she says, “but I’ve been getting more land each year. A year goes by and I get another acre.”

Her connection with Williams is strong and she regards him as the perfect mentor for her. “If I have any questions, I can just ask [Williams]. He’ll know the answer better than any book,” says McNicholl. The two have grown together over the years and McNicholl regards him as a wonderful friend.

Now that Rabbit Fields Farm is in full swing, McNicholl is excited for what she’s built. “It’s become a lifestyle for me,” she notes, “Some people may think that I’m crazy to work at four in the morning but I get to do what I love.” She adds that, while farming is her passion, only those who are willing to completely commit to the farming life should consider entering the business. “I have to be pretty open-minded,” McNicholl stresses, “You can’t come into this field with high expectations or else you’ll get discouraged.” She adds that the two most important resources for the agriculturally inclined are the surrounding community and your mentors.

While the line of work is particularly consuming, McNicholl emphasizes how pleased she is with her decision to become a farmer. “There’s something really enticing about creating your own meal from scratch,” she says. Even though McNicholl doesn’t feel she encountered any hurdles in her career-path, she views agriculture itself as a hurdle. “Nobody can predict anything,” she says, “So when something isn’t going the right way I see it as a science experiment.  But a wonderful science experiment.”

In regards to anyone who may be interested in farming, she adds, “Honestly, just make sure you love it.” As 2011 has come to a close, or as McNicholl notes “the year of the rabbit,” she is very excited to begin her sixth year with Rabbit Fields Farm.

Rabbit Fields Farm is located in Everson and can be reached at (360) 393-8747. For more information, visit rabbitfieldsfarm.com/.
–Cameron Deuel

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