Meet Your Farmers


Jess is a graduate of Cornell University with a degree in Natural Resources. She traveled through the country and Latin America during the college years only to discover that there is no place like home! She also realized that for her, there was no vocation like the family vocation. After stints in conservation biology, ornithology, disaster relief, and development work,  Jess realized that she wanted to be the next generation of Niederer farmers and started Chickadee Creek in 2010.



The Niederers  have been in Hopewell Valley since 1910, when Otto Niederer (Great-Grandpop) left Switzerland and settled in Titusville. He worked with an embroidery manufacturer in Union City before heading back to the land. Otto, his wife Katherine, and their children ran a dairy farm where Washington Crossing State Park now sits.  After losing the farm in the Great Depression era, Otto and his sons used their Swiss ingenuity to invent a machine that graded eggs using a conveyor tipping-scale system and a candler that didn’t hurt the eyes of the workers grading the eggs. Until this, egg farmers were weighing eggs one by one to figure out which grade they were! The Egomatic became the focus of the Niederer family, but farming (eggs, cows, corn, wheat, and soybeans) was an addiction that just wouldn’t go away. Egomatic is gone now but the family connection to land remains.

Management Team: pictured are Chelsea, Monica, and Jess, and Scott has his own pic below

Monica Drazba

Monica is our greenhouse manager and irrigation manager. From Monica: “I worked as an apprentice on Chickadee Creek Farm for one and a half years (2013-2014) and managed the Rutgers Market during the first year. In July of 2014, I returned to my birth state, California, to try and establish roots and truly settle with the task of starting my own farm operation. For a multitude of reasons, that didn’t happen, and I instead got caught up working for a national non-profit, Foodcorps, and the local Cooperative Extension. 

Through I wasn’t farming, I was involved in meaningful work with under-served youth. I promoted farm to school programs, provided nutrition education lessons in gardens and kitchens, and facilitated a powerful youth engagement project for junior high students. These issues are still at the core of my long-term work and I hope to eventually reintegrate into these social, environmental, and food justice movements within New Jersey.”

Chelsea Strehse– On the farm since 2016, our harvest and plant sales manager, find her at the Hoboken Market!

Years Farming: 5
Where from: Pennsylvania
Hobbies: Sculpting, hiking, film, and food!
Studied in School: Environmental science / climate change
Favorite Crop to Grow: Garlic, because we work with it for almost the whole year, in some way. Plus, it’s my favorite to eat, too!

Scott Van Kuiken: manages our high tunnel production, and ends up doing a lot of tractor work!
Years Farming: 5
Where from: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Hobbies: bicycling, board games (favorite is Agricola)
Studied in School: English Literature
Favorite Crop to Grow: Tomatoes, because of how involved and detailed they are to grow, plus the flavors, shapes, colors, heftiness

Kelsey Wright: Flower Manager
Years Farming: 5 going on 6
Where from: Hightstown NJ
Hobbies: cooking, yoga, and hiking
Studied in School: Environmental Science
Favorite Crop to Grow: Flowers of course! Because I love the combination of art and farming and science that is growing and creating flower arrangements.


Darci (at Princeton and Denville)
Years Farming: 4
Where from: Pennington, NJ
Hobbies: cooking, family time, being active
Studied in School: Sports Nutrition
Favorite Crop to Grow:  Herbs because they smell great and can be used in anything


Years Farming: 5
Farm Goal: start a vegetable farm one day
Where from: Mt Holly NJ
Hobbies: running, drawing, making things
Studied in School: Industrial design
Favorite Crop to Grow: Beets, because they are underrated and you can eat the whole plant


Lara Periard (at Rutgers Gardens Market)

lara sunflowersYears Farming: 2
Where from: Virginia
Hobbies: listening to music and watching The Office
Studied in School: Science, technology and society, and Theater
Favorite Crop to Grow: Tomatoes, because she loves them! Enjoys harvesting them and the way they smell, taste, look.



Morgan Snedden (find her at Metuchen)
Years Farming: 2
Farm Goal: start an organic vegetable farm
Where from: Boulder, Co
Hobbies: Playing with their new puppy Penny and nature photopraphy
Studied in School: Psychology
Favorite Crop to Grow: Carrots because they grow in an array of colors, are tasty, and are a blast to pull out of the ground