Farmer in Focus: Eat Fire Farm

Dylan, Caroline, and Rosemary of Eat Fire Farm

Dylan Wallace and Caroline Borrelli have run Eat Fire Farm since 2019, but both have a rich history with farming and Nantucket. Dylan grew up on the island picking berries around Lily Pond for his father to use in desserts at the restaurant he ran. Dylan attended the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston, and despite initially pursuing a career as an art teacher, he was drawn to agriculture. When he returned to Nantucket, he soon found himself on the board of Sustainable Nantucket and the Agricultural Commission, in addition to sponsoring the Right to Farm Bylaw. Caroline summered on Nantucket before moving to the island year-round in 2012, and she warmly remembers playing outside, picking up worms, and cherishing her time exploring the unique natural world of Nantucket. She, too, is an artist turned farmer, having studied ceramics at Salve Regina University. After graduation, Caroline worked in landscaping creating small-scale vegetable gardens, transitioning to take care of the ducks and microgreens at Dan Southey’s Washashore Farm where she and Dylan first met.

In addition to Eat Fire Farm, Dylan owns and operates a wood fired pizza company named Eat Fire Pizza, which you can find at Cisco Brewery, or call upon for catering services! Dylan also runs his own commercial bay scallop boat in the off season. Caroline believes we can, as an island community, grow more of our own food, and also tap into more of our existing energy sources. She works as a Senior Project Manager for ACK Smart solar energy, in addition to running operations and managing bookkeeping for Eat Fire Pizza. Read their interview below to learn more about Dylan and Caroline in their own words!

What works best about your partnership?

Dylan: I have a lot of ideas, but by the time I figure out how to make something work I’m on to the next project. Caroline and I are a really good team in that she’s not afraid of all my ideas and she can keep them organized. It’s nice to be able to support each other in that way.

Caroline: Yeah, I’m like “You have a new idea? Great! Let me prepare a budget” [laughs]. I’m very good at getting a project started and then creating a process to get it to run smoothly, which is what we’re working on now with Eat Fire Pizza to help us allocate more time to family and farming.

What do you grow on your farm?

Dylan: We grow perennial herbs, including basil, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, oregano, thyme, sage, fennel, lovage, lavender, and a couple different peppermints for tea. We also grow artichokes, chilis, and garlic, and make solar evaporated sea salt. Eat Fire Farm has a symbiotic relationship with Eat Fire Pizza. We make chili flakes and hot honey as add-ons and grow veggies for the pizza.

What are the Eat Fire Farm best-selling items?

Dylan: The herb salt is probably what people use the most. That’s the best for any roasted veggies, fish, or chicken. Our new hot honey is wildly popular – people put it on everything. We make a smoked chili flake that’s really good, and we’re about to release garlic salt made from our own garlic.

Where can people buy your products?

Caroline: We are hoping to launch our online store this year! We’re also going to sell at the Farmers Market in July and August. Additionally, for most of the season we stock herbs, garlic, and honey at the farm stand on Hummock Pond Road, and then plug and play when we have our specialty foods available.

Dylan: That includes rhubarb from early May until the end of June, and then blackberries in August. We’ll also retail at Pip & Anchor and 167 Fish Market.

Why are you interested in farming on Nantucket?

Dylan: I think we can effect more change on island. Getting Nantucket families who are not connected to agriculture involved is so important. That’s a big reason why I want to be a farmer on Nantucket.

Caroline: We want to be part of the community that lives here, and we want to boost our farming culture. I think it’s important that we have more diversity in the food that’s available here on Nantucket and that’s what really drew me to Dylan: he’s passionate about growing what other people aren’t growing. He doesn’t want to take away from another farmer, and he also wants to give back to both the nutrition of the people on the island as well as the nutrition of the soil. We have so much potential here on Nantucket to be more sustainable, self-reliant, and regenerative.

What makes your farm environmentally friendly?

Dylan: The perennials we grow use less water, less fertilizer, and they help create an environment for spiders and [beneficial] insects (according to the USDA, “beneficial insects prey on insects that can damage crops”). Our farm has a more diverse ecosystem because there’s roots in the ground year round, like blackberry canes and rhubarb. It takes longer to establish, and we give up making more money doing it that way, but we think it’s important.

Do you have a favorite recipe that you make with your food?

Caroline: My favorite recipe is a slow roasted fennel with our herb blend and homemade pasta tossed all together.

In the future, the couple hopes to focus on farming full-time, along with raising their growing family. They have a myriad of ideas that would benefit the island community, which include creating a “pick your own blackberry” farm, keeping farm animals, expanding the farm stand, and much more. Dylan and Caroline have great vision and ideas for the various ways agriculture can grow on Nantucket.

Dylan cutting flowers at Eat Fire FarmEat Fire Farm herbs