Living the Sweet Life:
Laughing Child Farm’s Tim Hughes-Muse
Anyone who knows Tim Hughes-Muse and his background would no doubt agree that his becoming a farmer was the most natural thing in the world. With farming roots that stretch back to his great-grandparents’ day on both sides of his family, Tim could easily say this time-honored profession runs through his veins. Ever since his first farming venture at age 13 when he grew flowers to sell at a roadside stand, he has continued to glean lessons that have shaped him into the farmer and man he is today.
“Aside from learning to hoe a row when I was a kid, I learned the importance of sticking with a project,” says Tim, whose current agricultural undertaking has a more culinary bent; he grows sweet potatoes in Vermont’s soil-rich Mettowee Valley. Tim harvested his first crop of sweet potatoes in 2012— 33,000 pounds’ worth of Carolina Ruby, Covington, and Beauregard tubers now produces over 100,000 annually.
An environmental sciences graduate of Vermont’s Green Mountain College, Tim had been searching for several years for a way to make a living from the land and raise his young family in a farming lifestyle. Little did he realize when the Hughes-Muses moved to Pawlet, VT that his opportunity would literally be right next door.
As a neighbor of The Good Table’s owner, Barbara Moore, Tim had occasionally spoken with Barbara about her desire to keep her family farm productive and his desire to farm a piece of land himself. They eventually arrived at a mutually beneficial dream project when they devised a proposal for Tim to grow sweet potatoes on Barbara’s farm.
“Barbara provided me access to land we otherwise wouldn’t have had access to. Not only that, she made her barn available for cleaning, grading, and storing the sweet potatoes,” comments Tim. “She has a stewardship ethic and that’s what’s made this possible.”
The whole family helps grow sweet potatoes for the business and grow food for the family. That means he and his wife, Brooke, are in the field hoeing and pulling weeds by 5:00 o’clock most mornings. Even his two oldest children lend a hand through the summer growing season by picking up rocks. And at harvest time, they assist Tim with the grading and sorting.
“I don’t know what they say to one another while they’re helping but they sure giggle a lot while they do it,” remarks Tim, who aptly named his business Laughing Child Farm.
The Good Table buys Tim’s sweet potatoes for the meals they prepare at their various cafes and for specialty catering jobs. Tim also sells his Covingtons, Carolina Rubies, and Beauregards to grocery stores and food service companies. In addition he supplies area schools with them so lunch menus can include locally grown fare that’s as pretty as it is nutritious.
With their lush orange flesh and red skins, Laughing Child Farm’s sweet potatoes store well into the early spring months, add festive touches to any meal, and — not surprisingly — are certified organic. “I want my workplace to be safe for my children to come play,” says Tim. “But aside from that, I’d farm this way anyway — without herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides — because it’s the right way to farm.”
For more information, call 802-325-2054 or visit www.laughingchildfarm.com.