Meet Your Farmer | Sarah Chien

October 6, 2022

Sarah Chien

Farms for the Future
Quail Hill Farm

Hello! I’m Sarah Chien (she/her).

It’s the beginning of October, raining heavily, and I can feel all the tiredness from the high season settling into my bones. We call Spring and Fall the “shoulder seasons.” It’s a nice embodied metaphor: Spring when your shoulders lift in anticipation of all the food to come, Summer when the head is so full of stimulation from eyes/ears/mouth, and then another shoulder, Fall, where you exhale and begin to massage the tension out of your neck.

I am both a farmer and a contemporary dancer, and I love the interplay between creative inspiration and grounded practicality. The two fields really do have a lot in common: the physicality of the work, their generative and community-oriented natures, and all the challenges of under-resourced industries.

My impulse to write, and to care for plants is born out of the same impulse in the blackbird’s throat– to bring the thing into being…”- Scott Chaskey, Seedtime

“The job description for Professional Choreographer ought to begin: Must be able to carry heavy things and schedule large groups of busy people.” - Andrew Simonet

I’m the oldest apprentice on this year’s team- the same age as this farm! Places I’ve called home include Illinois, New York City and Ecuador. I’m a career-changer. My farm path began in the pandemic when all the dance opportunities were canceled, and my day job (in User Experience Research) no longer made sense. I spent those two lockdown years transitioning into farming: growing on Brooklyn rooftops, on Governor’s Island, at land-based artist residencies in rural Vermont and France, and working the NYC Greenmarkets. Then in March 2022, I bought my first car, moved out of my Bushwick apartment and drove out East to farm full-time!


As I write this newsletter, some of our team are in the greenhouse laying out the first harvest of winter squash. Curing — a process of exposing squash to sun and airflow — will ensure a longer shelf life and create a more complex flavor. Fall is the beginning of storage season! As an individual I’ve been freezing tomato sauce, salsa verde, babaganoush and edamame hummus. As a farm, we’ll soon be harvesting sweet potatoes, storage potatoes, and more winter squash. At the shop, we’re inventorying our garlic stores and looking forward to our annual hot pepper smoking and drying.

Fall, like her sister shoulder season, Spring, is the time for leafy greens - bright green baby rows are returning to Block 1 on Birch Hill! Soon we’ll see many of our beloved cool weather favorites: arugula, collards, kale, bok choy, lettuces, mustards, mesclun mix, and radishes. There will also be new crops like broccoli and cabbage.

We are preparing our fields for cover cropping - soon we will sow plants like oats, peas, and rye that can capture nutrients in their roots and return some fertility to the tired soil. Meanwhile, the baby chicks we raised in the Spring are now fully grown!


In this season of reflection and refocusing, may you all find some warmth, rest and creative ways to capture the flavors of the harvest.



Adapted from a note to Quail Hill Farm members by Sarah Chien, Quail Hill Farm Apprentice. Interested in joining Quail Hill Farm? Visit our website to sign up for the Summer or Winter share.

Support the Peconic Land Trust
Peconic Land Trust needs your support to protect the working farms, natural lands, and heritage of Long Island.