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She’s A Badass Mother Farmer

Meet Cara Joly, one half of the team behind Joly Oysters. She’s a badass mother farmer. Along with her husband, Jon, they started growing their own oysters in 2016 in Dennis, MA. Not only is she a farmer, but a freelance interior designer and mother to two young boys – Jackson (7) and Harrison (4), plus their dog Bingo, Fleezly their cat, and ten chickens! We caught up with her down on their farm in Dennis and asked her how she does it all.

How do you balance being a mother with being an oyster farmer?

For me, it’s not a difficult balance. Mainly because my husband, Jon, is able to do the bulk of the labor out on the farm. If I’m needed out there we either bring the kids out with us or find a sitter (usually my parents who live close by). I do a lot of the work that can be done out back in the barn, I put together all the grow bags, help sort and count oysters when we bring them off the beach and I handle all of the office work and sales. I also do all the running around buying supplies etc… So Jon and I really work as a team keeping in mind that I need to be present for the kids when they are not in school.

What’s your favorite part of the day?

I love going out to the farm, you couldn’t ask for a better place to work. Rain or shine, summer or winter, it’s an awesome place to be. Jon and I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to work the grant.

What’s the best part about being a mom?

Watching the kids grow and change every day. The love that you feel for your kids is crazy, it’s like nothing else. It’s so fun to watch them discover new things and share their opinions and ideas.

How are farming oysters and parenting similar?

Hmmmm, they’re both a lot of work! I guess you could say both take a lot of patience, although in different ways. But both can be fun, exciting, and definitely worth while.

What are the biggest challenges of doing both?

The biggest challenge for the oysters I would say is just the time it takes to get started before you reach your first harvest. It’s not an easy task when you are trying to start up working around your “day job”. It’s a big learning curve and you hope you’re not making any huge mistakes.

With parenting I guess it’s kind of the same thing, there’s a HUGE learning curve. You have no idea, really, what you are doing and you just hope that you are making the right decisions when it comes to your children.

I’m just trying to keep everyone – oysters and kids – alive!

What the biggest benefit of bringing your kids down to the farm?

We don’t have to pay a babysitter to watch them! Kidding, kind of. But really it’s awesome for them to be able to be a part of it. It makes it feel that much more like a family business. It’s really cool that they’ll grow up seeing how it all works and how much labor goes into all. I think it’s a great learning experience on a lot of different levels. Hopefully they learn to appreciate not just the business side but the whole picture of it all – they’re learning while they’re out there. My 4 year old was just asking me about the tides today on the way off the beach, so that’s cool to see that they are noticing things and taking an interest. If they can gain an appreciation and some knowledge about where we live and the ecosystem around the farm, it would be awesome.

 

Is there a hope that your kids will grow up to farm oysters too?

We hope so! They’re so young now so it’s hard to say but I would imagine at least one of them will have interest in taking over the farm some day. They love to come out and find crabs, minnows and just dig in the sand for now.

You guys are still a pretty new! How do you envision the business growing?

As far as the farm goes, we plan to grow a bit bigger than we are now. We doubled our seed numbers this year. So we’ll see how that goes this season and just keep going year by year. We plan to stay a small family operation.