Who’s Your Farmer? Kate O’Brien

Kate O’Brien’s journey on Nantucket Island began like that of a quintessential “summer kid.” Her parents owned a house down Hummock Pond Road, so every year, she’d eagerly return to the island. During her school years at Carlton College, Kate ventured into the world of work, and the proximity of Bartlett’s Farm made it a natural choice. She secured a retail job at Bartlett’s, and at the time, the market was nestled within the greenhouse. As Kate grew, so did Bartlett’s. She fondly remembers the escapades of Baby, the resident dairy cow, who often needed a time-out for wandering from his pen.

After college, Kate tried her hand at different jobs. She managed Orange Street Video for years and spent a few years driving cabs around the island, even in the off-season.

Kate grew up in New York City, but deep down she never felt like much of a city kid. It wasn’t a good fit for her: she liked the slower energy, salty ocean air, and being removed from the mainland madness. It was a friend who posed the question, “When are you coming home [to the Island]?” That pivotal moment occurred on June 15th, over two decades ago. Kate wasn’t born here, but she began creating the rest of her life on this Island.

So, what truly qualifies someone as an Islander? Is it really a matter of being born here, or can it be defined by planting new roots and nurturing them with the love and care you feel for this place?

In 2008, Kate made her way back to Bartlett’s Farm and embarked on a remarkable journey. Starting as a data coordinator and worked her way up to the Gift Manager. When asked why she initially joined the farm, left, and then returned, Kate’s answer was simple: “You make such strong personal connections working on the Farm.” Her story perfectly embodies this sentiment.

During her time on Nantucket, Kate became a member of a group known as “Single Mothers by Choice,” though she preferred the term “Solo Mom,” so we do too. Our store manager, MJ, played a significant role during this chapter of her life. They attended birth classes together, and fate had it that during a crucial manager training at the Farm, MJ had to make a hasty exit, announcing, “I have to go, it’s baby time!” Ten minutes later, amid two blizzards, MJ arrived at the hospital just in time for the birth of Cassidy O’Brien, an official Nantucket Native!

Cassidy, born in 2016, is already showing her love for the Farm and showcasing her skills using the price gun. She’s fond of being part of the farm family and aspires to take over the kitchen from Uncle Devon, who has lovingly baked each of her birthday cakes. Kate reiterated her reason for staying at the Farm, saying, “I was so drawn back to the people and the life of the people [here]… our whole family is a part of the farm, not just me, her too.” Often, it’s about the love and connections that define you on this Island!

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