As with many start-ups, the first year of Ironwood was hard. Not only were they planting their first crops, they were also building the infrastructure—irrigation systems and green- and fieldhouses—that they use today. Jones was heavily pregnant with tow-headed Elsie, who now toddles around the farm with her father, Jonathan Taee. That year, they deferred their own payment: Brandt needed to work another job to get by.
Brandt was farming full time at Lineage Farm, at that point, located five minutes from Ironwood. This meant two full-time jobs involving heavy labor. “Luckily, I was also falling in love and so I was really excited. I feel like maybe that gave me some energy . . . also, it was just really inspiring to be building our own thing.” Still, she admits, “There were some really tough emotional times.”
Says Jones, “I was fully pregnant, working full time out here on my own. I was carrying irrigation pipe around on my own. I was doing a lot of tractor work on my own. Harvesting a lot, on my own.”
“One day I had to harvest 550 bunches of kale by myself. I was, like, ‘OK, what time do I need to start? Because it’s going to be 90°.’ I know that this is going to take me at least four hours, and we didn’t have a harvest cart. So I had to drag a tank out there, and then I dragged the hose out and filled the tank. I picked as fast as I could. And then it was, like, dunk the kale in cold water. Pack it. And then when I get to a certain number of boxes, carry it back to the cooler.” Jones pauses, remembering. “What came out of that first year, for me, was the feeling that I could do anything.”