Our 2013 Farm Crew:
Madison Meter, Emily Jameson, Laura Piskor, Lenora Paige, Jess Piskor, Danielle Miller, Abra Berens, John "Frost" Hardy
If there is one thing Jess likes better than farming, it is living back in Northern Michigan. Born and raised here, Jess spent eight years living in Ann Arbor, where he graduated college and then worked at Zingerman's Deli. After living in London and New York and traveling around the world, he feels lucky at 28 years old to return to Michigan and is proud to call Northport home. Finding it so welcoming, interesting and beautiful is a treat.
Jess grew up growing things. His mom has an amazing garden, and he remembers pretending to weed at a very young age. He was mostly just playing with his Tonka bulldozer -- never suspecting he’d pilot a real bulldozer in 2009 to push over dead cherry trees to clear the way for an apple orchard at the farm. In high school Jess worked for Steve Christensen at Suttons Pointe Farms and later, after college, kept an enthusiasm for growing -- even planting veggies in 50 five-gallon buckets along his driveway in Ann Arbor.
Jess really got serious about farming while working at Cornman Farm outside of Ann Arbor. Cornman Farm is owned by James Beard Award-Nominated Chef Alex Young and operated under the guidance of head farmer Mark Baerwolf. They are working to link Alex's restaurant directly to his farm. Jess worked for Mark on the farm and there learned a lot of the small-scale organic methods that make Bare Knuckle Farm successful.
In addition to farming, Jess is passionate about the discussion of ideas, a good cup of tea, history, home brews of all sorts and can tie a knot 20 different ways.
Abra strives to make simple, delicious food. She believes that the meals we eat should change with the seasons and that their ingredients should come from nearby-- most often from Bare Knuckle Farm. She chooses sustainably-grown fruits and vegetables and responsibly-farmed animals to create rustic and purposeful plates.
Abra grew up amongst the agrarian culture of western Michigan, developing a deep respect for the relationship between the land and the people who care for it. She then moved to Ann Arbor and to the University of Michigan to study history and English, and before long she was working at Zingerman's Deli. What started as a part-time job developed into a full-blown love affair with food and its production.
From Zingerman's, Abra moved on to train under Darina Allen at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, located in the middle of its own 100-acre organic farm in County Cork, Ireland. There she learned that if you want to cook with the best ingredients, what better place for them to have come from than your own backyard? The school's commitment to supplying its own highest-quality ingredients, as well as its beautiful pastoral setting, helped shape Abra's own approach to food and cooking.
Since leaving Ballymaloe, Abra has found herself working and learning under a slew of notable chefs, including Skye Gyngell of Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, England; Roger Bowser of Zingerman's Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Sandra Holl of Floriole Bakery; and, most recently, Paul Virant of Vie Restaurant in Western Springs, Illinois. These chefs have been Abra's mentors, having influenced her style of food and reinforced the commitment to honesty of ingredients and quality in final products.
Abra is now taking her years of training, the best that the garden has to offer and creating a meal for you and your family that is a snapshot of this very special county of ours.