A small flock of heritage ducks roams near a fresh water spring, and free-range chickens keep company with insect-loving guinea hens in a large, fenced grassy area. Chicken eggs go into her CSA boxes, and duck and chicken eggs are also available year-round at the farmers market. For the past few years, she also has offered cut flower bouquets at the market as part of her weekly CSA offerings.
Graznak, who holds a master’s degree in plant breeding, was drawn to farm life after she joined a CSA while in graduate school. “I fell in love with the farm,” she said. She learned the ropes, working as a farm intern for other farmers, including Dan Kuebler of the Salad Garden in Ashland. “I had a great internship. I learned how to do this from other farmers.”
After working at a local Columbia nursery for six years, Graznak saved enough money to buy her farm. She built a barn on the property with lumber milled on the land, and recently added her fourth high tunnel. She plants more vegetables each year, with the help of employees and interns. “I’m committed to offering good internship opportunities. There is so much you have to know in order to run a successful small farm. It's not just about putting seeds in the ground."
Graznak provides free food, housing and a living stipend for her interns. They learn about soil health, planting, harvesting, greenhouse management, marketing, plumbing and electrical skills, and about how to use basic farming equipment. “They are with me night and day for seven months,” she said, including Saturdays at Columbia Farmers Market.
Graznak looks forward to Saturday markets. “We have a fantastic market in Columbia,” she said. “I don’t get to leave the farm much, so the farmers market is where I get my social interaction. I see loyal customers every Saturday. I enjoy the challenge of setting up a beautiful display, the challenge of helping 10 people in line when it is busy, and getting to know the people that we feed.”
For more information about the farm, the CSA, and recipes, go to happyhollowfarm-mo.com.