Chrissie and Koorosh Zaerpoor
Koorosh grew up in Shiraz, Iran. During his childhood, his mother and grandmother kept small flocks of chickens and ducks at their home. Despite scoring in the top 1% on university placement exams, his original aspiration was to become a farmer, and during all subsequent decades, it remained a dream of his to be a farmer.
He attended one semester of university right after high school which was interrupted by the Islamic revolution of 1979.
In the aftermath, Koorosh worked a variety of laboring jobs, including beekeeping, tending a vineyard, caring for sheep, general construction, lens grinding, and cabinet making. At age 28, married and with his child, he illegally escaped Iran at a cost of eight years’ salary. He and his wife and child were granted asylum protection through the United Nations, and finally immigrated to the United States. His elder sister convinced him to attend university and earn a graduate degree.
He worked his way through university at Berea College in Kentucky with double bachelors' degrees in Mathematics and Physics, mostly working construction and cabinet making positions. While earning a Ph.D. in nuclear astrophysics at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, he worked as a general contractor doing general construction work, and bought and renovated his first home. Later, while he was working on his doctoral thesis, he had his own landscaping business.
For 15 years at Intel, he was an equipment and process development engineer, most recently in the Pathfinding group which develops test equipment for testing Intel microprocessors. He is a talented and innovative engineer with a specialty in
designing, building, and developing equipment, and developing and characterizing manufacturing processes and manufacturing assembly lines. He is a capable project and program manager, and has excellent people management skills.
Through these various jobs, Koorosh acquired solid skills in every aspect of equipment development and repair; a variety of farm construction projects such as barns, greenhouses, fences, watering and feeding systems, and so on. He has a lot of experience working with and supervising blue-collar workers. He has excellent negotiation skills. He is a genius at improving and implementing automated systems, for example, for irrigating gardens and vineyard. He has basic experience and confidence in handling a variety of domestic animals. All of this has been directly relevant to starting and running a farm.
Since retiring from Intel in 2015, his engineering superpowers are directed exclusively on the farm with no outside distractions. In his spare time Koorosh is still a cabinetmaker, tinkering with the oak woodworking trim inside our 1905 farmhouse.
"Our approach for learning fast is to just jump in and do it, and to force ourselves to do it quickly and do it well by setting aggressive goals and constraints so that we simply cannot allow ourselves to fail."
Chrissie grew up in Hoopeston, Illinois, in the heart of corn and soybean country of the American Midwest. Although her father is an attorney, her parents also co-own commodity farms, and she had frequent contact with family friends who were full-time commodity farmers. She married young and worked her way through university, first as a secretary and later as a technical writer, working full-time and taking two courses per semester, finishing a BS in physics ten years after graduating from high school.
Her interest in food and farming led her to become a serious gardener and home cook, with interest in ethnic foods, wild foods, foraging, and edible flowers. Meats with high omega-3 content, and human nutrition as it is influenced by an animal's diet became areas of interest. Several years shopping at the elite high-end groceries, taking wine appreciation classes from the local community college, and eating many meals out in restaurants helped her explore further her culinary curiosity. All of this experience turns out to apply directly to speaking with chefs at their level, suggesting recipes to consumers, speaking knowledgably and in describing and comparing the differences and benefits of our farm products to those who are serious about a wholesome nutritious diet. She has also been making wine and mead since 1996 and kombucha since 2006, and wrote and self-published "The Art of Mead Tasting and Food Pairing."
She began university studies as an architecture major, and has always had a passion for restoration of period houses, and for designing and building a house from scratch.
After completing her bachelor’s degree, Chrissie worked 13 years at Intel Corporation in a variety of equipment and process engineering roles, and people and program management roles. While working full-time, she also completed six graduate courses in solid state physics, electrical engineering, and materials science while pursuing a MSEE from Columbia University in New York (through the miracle of the internet).
Key roles in the design and startup of five Intel factories and a strong knowledge of issues in factory layout, facilities, and workflow planning all added to her skills in rapidly building out a small farm. She has strong written and verbal communication skills, good artistic skills, good public speaking and persuasion skills, and excellent organizational and planning skills. During her last role at Intel, she directly managed a staff of 15 including a team of three process control engineers and statistical analysts, and directed the activities of some 30 or 40 people at one technology development center, plus three factories.
During the last few years of managing at Intel, she had developed aspirations to start her own business such as necklace making or mead making or renovating small homes in the neighborhood for resale, and with that view had taken an entrepreneurial course through Portland Community College. She was also president of the Board of Directors for People’s Food Co-operative in Portland, Oregon ( www.peoples.coop), which gave her contacts and learning opportunities in the food distribution and chef/grocer community. She's a founding member of the board of directors of the American Mead Makers Association and Contributing Editor to its quarterly professional journal. She loves making good things to eat and drink, and sometimes tinkers with art projects such as hand-painted tiles.