Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Nash Bruce. I’m co-owner of Five Hands Farm, a diversified organic vegetable farm.
Where are you from?
How did you get started?
I was looking to transition from the music industry into something more stable, and less frantic. On its face, the allure is pretty obvious – big straw hats and smiles, handing carrots to cute children at the farmer’s market… But it’s also presents a wonderful set of challenges and enough detail to keep my curiosity in check. Two thing I’ve found I really need to thrive in a working environment.
I grew up on a farm, and had several interests that ran parallel with market farming. We spent the fall/winter of 2012 doing research, and jumped in the deep end the following spring.
Do you have a side hustle or hobbies?
I still do some session work as a guitarist, and sometimes travel in the off season doing live sound/tour management. I also work in specialty coffee as time allows. Beyond those things, I enjoy backpacking, writing music, cycling, and tabletop games.
What was one of your biggest mistakes and what did you learn from it?
Our mistakes tend to be many and minor. The lesson I would impart to any new grower: Never sleep on the weeds. They will not wait for a more convenient time.
What are the top tools you need to do your job?
greenhouse, silage tarp, floating row cover, wheel hoe, small tractor (with a bucket and forks!), power harrow, high pressure wash gun, roomy cold storage, and social media.
Who or what inspires you and why?
JM Fortier – His book “the market gardener” is more or less the gateway drug to the industry. He has compiled and distributed information in such an approachable way that MANY farms base their operations directly on his recommended practices.
Connor Crickmore – His farm “Neversink” boasts incredible efficiency and profitability.
Ben Hartman – Semi-local grower from Goshen, IN who has applied high efficiency Japanese business principles to small scale farming which he dubs “lean farming”.
Curtis Stone – Extremely successful urban farmer with an exceptionally informative YouTube series.
Jess and Brian Powers – Of “Working Hands Farm“, an incredibly industrious duo with prolific production and an outstanding social media presence. I’ve learned as much from their Instagram as any book.
What do you love about Northwest Indiana?
That those with the creative community hustle for one another. It’s not the biggest pond, but we’re in it together.
What resources are you finding to educate yourself?
We go to trade shows/conferences, keep up with info Purdue publishes, read lots of books (from pest management to general business practices), stalk great farms on social media, collaborate with fellow growers, and peruse (at our own risk) Facebook groups specific to our industry.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your industry?
If you have no experience, get a job on a good farm. If you’ve made the plunge, sink as much as you possibly can into time-saving infrastructure. Be prepared to get discouraged, sunburned, and to sacrifice virtually all recreation in your first few seasons. Be prepared also for moments of triumph, serenity, and fun.
STAY ORGANIZED. Make lists and work through them, do all your big picture planning in January.
What’s next for you?
We’d like to pick up a few more restaurants, add another farmers market next year, and hire some employees. in a few years, I’d like to be growing on 6-8 acres (3x-4x our current space).
Where can we find you?