As you know if you've spent five minutes with us, the Four Root farmers love each other as family and genuinely get real joy from working together as intimately as farming requires. As a four-person team we have a productive and healthy diversity of skills. We are farmers, architects, musicians, athletes, historians, dog people, cat people, miniature Scottish Highland people, enthusiastic cilantro eaters, and enthusiastic anti-cilantro eaters. We all love soup.
Aaron Taylor came to farming gradually, via a childhood in Burlington, Vermont, degrees in early music and political science from Wesleyan University, and a job in a prominent Manhattan immigration law firm. Aaron and Caitlin met at Wesleyan, shortly before Aaron’s graduation, and moved together to New York City, where they lived in a charming but microscopic apartment in Harlem and grew chronically malnourished tomato plants in the shade of the apartment tower next door. When they moved to New Haven for Caitlin to attend graduate school, Aaron fatefully started volunteering at Massaro Community Farm in Woodbridge, where he soon became the Assistant Farm Manager. While at Massaro, Aaron fell hard for agriculture – the messy, back-breaking, chaotic world of farming suited his inclination towards working with his hands, being outdoors, his love of food and cooking, his incredible attention to detail, and his taste for intermittent bursts of overwhelming amounts of work. In 2012, Aaron and Caitlin became the caretakers at the Thomas Darling House in Woodbridge, CT, where they were given the opportunity to start their first farm business, Darling Farm, on the grounds of the historic home. Aaron is most happily himself while out in the sunny field organizing his plants into freakishly straight rows. He is the founder, chairman, and dictator-for-life of Team Salad Greens, and, when asked to choose his favorite vegetable, he will confidently nominate a different one every time.
Rachel Berg is a Connecticut local, having grown up in Bethany and run competitively on the Hopkins cross country team in high school. Before studying history at the University of Chicago, she joined the Howard Dean for America campaign, where she worked in the scheduling office. After college, feeling driven to use her hands and her brain, she spent a winter WWOOFing in Washington State. The next year she found herself back in central Connecticut managing farmers' markets for CitySeed and volunteering at Boulder Knoll Community Farm in Cheshire. In 2010, she became a volunteer at Massaro, where she met Aaron and realized that farming was more than a passing phase. She left Massaro after three seasons to attend the University of Vermont Farmer Training Program, but came back again when the program was over to join the Darling Farm team. Besides baking the best challah ever on the face of this green earth, Rachel also displays great enthusiasm for dried bean shucking and milling her own grains (both painstaking and time-consuming tasks, take note), loves presidential history and spreadsheets almost as much as she loves farming, and she can smell a ripe cantaloupe from - literally - a mile away.
Elise Cusano is a born-and-bred Connecticutian, not to mention the fact that she is also true New Haven pizza royalty. After attending Skidmore College and studying English Literature, Elise moved back to Connecticut and took a job at CitySeed, where she very fatefully met Rachel. After a stint as a Market Manager, she worked at Kitchen Garden Farm in Massachusetts, and at Massaro (where she met Aaron), before taking a job as the Farm Manager at Northfordy Farm in Northford. For three seasons at Northfordy, Elise worked with animals as well as plants and managed to grow the largest rainbow chard anyone has ever seen. Beyond being a brilliant and dedicated farmer, Elise has a plant intuition that runs deeper than knowing when the beets need to be weeded. She's as deeply thoughtful with plants as she is with people. Watching her read the tiniest, most imperceptible signals from a crop about what it's lacking, or why it's thriving, is pure magic. As our chief tomato-grafter and grower of many a three-pound tomato, Elise is decidedly on Team Tomato (population two: Elise and Caitlin). Among Elise's many other skills, her coleslaw, rhubarb ginger jam, and tomato sauce will all go down in history as the best on record.
Caitlin Taylor is a practicing architect working on water infrastructure and flood prevention at an urban scale, and is the other half of the original Darling Farm team. Caitlin has a degree in Biochemistry from Wesleyan University, and a Masters of Architecture from Yale University. When not at the farmers' market, writing our blog, or masterminding a plan to grow more and more of the weirdest and most unusual crops she can get her hands on, Caitlin might be found developing her award-winning designs as the co-founder of the Water Pore Partnership, or teaching at the Yale School of Architecture. Along with Elise, Caitlin leads our continued efforts at breaking into the world of organic cut flower growing. Flowers offer a chaotic and colorful antidote to her daily computer time, which is most often spent rearranging straight black lines on a computer screen, and her architectural bouquets have begun to gather a following. Though her other career keeps her away from the farm more than she would like, Caitlin is the chair of the marketing department, the hot sauce department, and the preserving/pickling department.