Flywheel Farm is owned and operated by Justin Cote & Ansel Ploog. Justin and Ansel started farming in Maine as apprentices at Goranson Farm, an amazing family farm just north of Bath. From there they headed to New Hampshire and finally, Vermont. They formed Flywheel Farm in 2013, on leased land next to Woodbury Lake/Sabin Pond.
We had a few ideas when we started and these were what we concentrated on in the first five years. One was small-scale wholesaling. Could a small farm reap the benefits of wholesale’s marketing and wash/pack efficiencies? Another was sustainable agriculture. Can we learn to grow food in a way that works with natural systems? We also wondered how we would keep ourselves healthy and continue to nourish our non-farming passions.
We used a lot of other farms for inspiration and ideas. We read the information given out by UVM Extension, took workshops and classes, and read books in the winter, the pages full of bookmarks. We learned how to build an 8×8 woodshed and this structure became our go-to for all buildings needed on the farm. We raised meat rabbits for a couple years, had chickens for a couple years, and experimented with growing ‘wild’ greens like orach and lamb’s quarter for a chef. We still like to experiment, be it with living mulches in our drive-rows, luffa sponges, or repurposed materials.
I think my favorite thing about farming is all the opportunities it affords to think and act creatively. That I get to do this, while also nourishing people with food, is a blessing.Ansel
Mechanical flywheels are very common and vary in their functions and materials.. At their most basic, they use their own inertia to moderate and store kinetic energy. The name Flywheel Farm came to Justin and Ansel as they were reading about the humus flywheel in an article about soil health. Humus is the well-decomposed organic matter in soil and it acts as a flywheel by storing slow-release nutrients, regulating water through drought and floods and providing the structure to soil that keeps it healthy. The expansion of the definition of flywheel to include mechanical and living systems appealed to Justin and Ansel. They also liked the idea of looking at their work as part of a large flywheel; one in which they farm while cultivating the soil, communities, friends, and personal endurance that will get them through rough seasons.