Before Joel and Megan moved to Sandstone to start Abraham’s Table Farm, they worked on a similar farm just outside the Washington, DC, beltway. Back then, Joel’s younger brother Daniel– nine years younger – came for a two-week visit and experienced what farm work was like. “I didn’t really consider doing it full time,” Daniel said. “I just liked spending time with Joel and working outside with him.”
Daniel is now 6’5” and still likes spending time working outside with Joel. In fact, he now
serves as the farm’s Field Manager – basically the Chief Operating Officer – and coordinates
the daily workflow and projects for Abraham’s Table Farm (ATF).
Daniel didn’t get the position just because he’s Joel’s younger brother. Daniel earned the
position through several seasons of on-the-job training – learning the “hows” and “whys” of
every aspect of the field work. In fact, after graduating from high school, Daniel delayed starting college and spent June through November working on the farm. His second college summer he worked at a church camp but he returned to ATF every summer after that and now works full time, March-November.
“Every summer I worked alongside Joel who trained me in different tasks,” recalls Daniel. “And each summer he gave me more responsibility. And when new workers and summer interns arrived, I would train them and learned how to prioritize projects.”
Now Daniel oversees most of the day-to-day operations including new staff training and
assessment (fitting each job with worker to maximize efficiency). He's also responsible for
weekly crop assessment ... cultivation schedules ... harvesting priorities ... garden bed prep and maintenance ... crop irrigation ... greenhouse seeding and seedbed rotation. And don’t forget the trellising of cucumbers and tomatoes, the movement and use of high tunnels and row covers, plus the spraying of booster nutrients to maximize plant health.
And if the garden work isn’t enough, he manages the raising and care of the meat birds and
laying hens, when they should move to the open pasture, coordinating their daily movement in the fields, all in tandem with the rotation of the beef and dairy cows.
Those years of experience became critical when ATF decided to move to the new farm.
While planting and harvesting at the former site, Joel and Daniel were also creating a detailed step-by-step plan for how to get the new place up and running.
For the most part, Daniel enjoys farm life. “I like doing stuff with my hands and it is not
something I get bored with,” he said. “Some jobs aren’t exactly fun, but you'll find that in any job.”
Even the daily farm routine is made easier because Daniel has recruited some of his college
buddies and friends to be interns and short-time workers. “They’re my friends and spending a lot of time together means there's a lot of good conversations, laughter and sharing. It makes all the work go smoother.”
If pressed, he will tell you that moving to Minnesota was not great. “I grew up in southeast
Virginia,” so he doesn’t like “the cold, the mosquitos and the winter. That’s why I head further south after the season is over – for the warmth and to be closer to other family members.”