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Who are Ewe Calling Stubborn?
Kenze Burkhart, an archaeology major while at Dickinson, is no stranger to getting her hands dirty. However, it wasn’t until Kenze’s senior year that she moved from the dig site to the farm fields. Despite her late start at Dickinson’s College Farm, Kenze made up for lost time. Quickly standing out among her fellow farmers, Kenze became a mainstay particularly when it came to livestock chores; her call of “Sheeeeeeeep!” became the unofficial anthem of the farm crew. Never one to go by the books, Kenze graduated after only three years at Dickinson, but wasn’t ready to leave her alma mater, or its farmland, quite yet. She stayed on with the college farm as a first-year apprentice living and working on the property and then as a second-year apprentice managing the day-to-day livestock operations.
After departing Dickinson in the winter of 2016, Kenze wasted no time in setting up her own farm operation back home in Harrisville, PA. For her, “Stubborn Ewe Farm was a gut feeling.” Growing up in a food desert that was so close to an urban center like Pittsburgh, Kenze felt that her farm could both bring the discussion of sustainable agriculture to her rural neighborhood and feed into the growing “foodie” reputation of the city. Not only was the farm operation a given, but its name came naturally too; “I think it incorporates my personality, as well as some of the inspiration behind my farming career. Raising livestock is really what made farming stick for me- and it’s a toss-up between who is more stubborn- me or the sheep.”
It definitely takes some stubbornness to strike out on your own as a lady farmer in a male-dominated field. Kenze admits that she has run into some stigma and challenges with regards to her gender but shows that actions conquer doubt; and no-doubt Kenze is a woman of action! However, she recognizes that this venture would not have been possible without support from friends, family and fellow farmers; Kenze demonstrates her gratitude through her hard work on and for the land.
But it’s not all plowing, weeding, and herding for this millennial agriculturist! Kenze has found a way to incorporate her passion for wood-fired pizza, one that bloomed thanks in part to Dickinson’s very own pizza operation, into the business model for Stubborn Ewe. Growing up in a textbook Italian family, feeding big appetites with even bigger meals, Kenze came to learn that food “doesn’t just feed the body, it feeds the soul.” Wood-fired pizza expands Kenze’s repertoire of products while acting as a tool for her to introduce new produce to her community and start a conversation about sustainable agriculture in a fun and delicious way. Kenze’s future plans for Stubborn Ewe include an expansion of this prepared foods operation to incorporate a more diversified menu. Eventually, Kenze hopes to have a nearly full-diet operation. Sustainably growing, raising, and baking veggies, meat, dairy, and bread.
When Kenze reflects on the path that led her to Stubborn Ewe, Dickinson is a reoccurring theme. Never one to beat around the bush, Kenze states: “without my Dickinson education and my time at the Dickinson College Farm I wouldn’t be a farmer.” She accredits the first and second-year apprenticeships with affording her the skill set, confidence, and determination to strike out on her own. Furthermore, Kenze gives thanks to the greater Carlisle community for providing her with friends, facilitators, and role models that have become indispensable in her own journey.