Going to visit Pomykala Farm is a lovely experience: a quaint farm stand, greenhouses, strawberry patches (where they have pick-your-own every June), and a large hill, too steep for crops, covered in sunflowers—a tradition one of the Pomykala sons started years ago.
The Pomykalas are known for their asparagus, which grows up on top of this hill. The Pomykala's asparagus field is 30 years old - asparagus being a perennial. Yet look at the field, it's easy to not even see the slender shoots.
Pomykala Farm started as just two acres on Grand Isle in 1977. Jane and Bob Pomykala moved there and built themselves a huge garden. They had met while both going to UVM: standing in line to give blood, they struck up conversation on good places to eat—they were both vegetarians. By 1981 they were ready for full-time farming, taking out a loan to purchase 18 acres around their home.
Jane considers herself and Bob to be a true team, with the duo playing to their individual strengths and interests. Bob loves to fix-up old equipment—a way they’ve saved money over the years. When you visit the farm you’ll probably see him tinkering with something or other.
In the early years, Bob mostly handled the farming since Jane was a full-time teacher. Once they started to have children, they decided that she would commit fully to the kids and the farm for a few years. However, as Jane puts it, she got ‘hooked’ and never went back to full-time teaching, though she did continue to sub in the winters for several years. Her teaching instinct still shines through, though—she has such a breadth of knowledge about her crops, and so much growing experience, and all these she conveys with ease and excitement.
Jane remains excited and encouraged how the local food scene has grown in their time farming. Pomykala Farm was one of the early participants in the Burlington Farmers' Market and has watched it grow into the thriving one we enjoy today. Another positive change is that restaurants have become more interested in local produce. Jane recounts that when they first started she would visit every restaurant on Williston Road trying to sell fresh produce and not find a single one interested. Back then the restaurants all used only using canned veggies and fruit.
As active participants in our local food culture, Jane and Bob aren’t just committed to farming, but also to their community. Every summer the farm holds a strawberry social that benefits the Grand Isle and North Hero Rescue Squad, and Jane volunteers at a benefit breakfast for the same organization later in the year.
Interacting with the Pomykalas makes you appreciate their gorgeous produce more. Both Bob and Jane have a love for the life and farming and that love, along with a little magic, seems to rub off on their veggies.