Alison Jewett, doing business as Avant Gardens, is in her second year at the Crozet Farmer’s Market, held in the parking lot of Crozet United Methodist Church every Saturday morning beginning at 8 a.m.
“I did really well my first year and it’s great this year,” she said. “I’m no-till and I use only hand tools. No tractor. It’s better for the soil.” She has photos of herself levering a hefty broadfork. She has a half-acre production garden going at the edge of Yancey Mills.
“I do it all myself.” She uses a scythe made to her sinewy body specs.
Her vegetables plumped with clean, smooth vitality and were handsome. Typically she offers basil, chard, lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, dill and lots of herbs, squash, zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, peppers and okra and a dozen things in all. Plus some jalapeno jelly and Meyer lemon marmalade, and a T-shirt. She also has 26 free-range hens.
“I’m very passionate about organic and providing a local source for veggies,” said Jewett. She has been using spent brewing grains from Pro Re Nata in her garden, she said happily. That gets something right on a new scale.
She was a classically trained musician who played flute and piccolo for the Houston Symphony until she developed a neurological condition known as facial dystonia, which affects the facial muscles, that ended her ability to play.
“I had to retire from my dream job,” she said bravely. “I learned more about what is happening on factory farms and I wanted to get into a smaller scale.”
Jewett apprenticed for a year at an organic farm in Harrisonburg, Radical Roots Farm, where she learned how to do it.
“No pesticides, no herbicides,” she said, “nothing that ends in ‘cide’. A healthy soil creates healthy plants.”
Radical Roots sells at the Charlottesville Farmer’s Market and thus Jewett got acquainted with the area and decided to settle in Crozet.