A Chat With Krystina Kennedy, General Manager of Beach Plum Farm
Krystina, you’re a longtime employee of Cape Resorts. When did you get aboard the rollercoaster?
Krystina: Rollercoaster is one way to describe it. I started my ride with Cape Resorts in 2003 after I graduated high school. My first job in the hospitality industry was a cocktail server in the Brown Room at Congress Hall. I remember that first summer legitimately like it was yesterday. I ended it regretting my decision to head off to college for elementary education - I really felt the pull towards hospitality. When I came back that second summer, after my first year of college, I knew that I wanted to be in hospitality. I just thrived off the energy and human contact.
And now you’re running Beach Plum Farm... it seems so idyllic. What's it like behind the scenes?
K: Just as idyllic! I worked for Disney—it’s all about keeping the magic and you never talk about what happens behind the scenes! But, truly, it’s a beautiful place to come to work every day. The team here is very close knit.
How different has the role been so far in this COVID world compared to what you had PLANNED to be doing?
K: I was so grateful that the farm market was able to stay open during quarantine. It felt good to be able to provide for our community but it also let me maintain human contact and connections. I'm so excited that we have opened the cottages back up as of June 1st—it’s fun and exciting to welcome people again, and I think people need the respite after the last few months. Plus, we’ve reimagined our farm-to-table dinners to create the same magical experience, but from six feet away! I am happy to be able to offer these experiences in such an idyllic setting.
Looking at your Facebook posts over the years, you regularly show your love for animals—from horseshoe crabs to pigs and chickens, and everything in between. What's it like to work with them every day?
K: It’s legit a dream. I make time every day to feed the chickens and walk back to visit the pigs. If I could have an office piglet, I would be VERY happy.
Who are your favorite characters on the farm?
K: There is one chicken—I call her Girlfriend—who only lays her eggs in our golf cart shed. When I leave the office door open she comes and hangs out with me. One time, she jumped in the bed of my truck and when I got to the stop sign at Stevens Street and Bayshore she jumped up on my tool box. That was the minute when Girlfriend was about to become my pet—but I thought she would miss her friends here at the farm, so I carefully drove her back. There is also a rooster who chases me, but he is NOT a favorite.
What are the food options for people visiting the farm?
K: Our Farm Market has an awesome kitchen open during the market hours that uses so many fresh ingredients. Super-casual, no frills, just really great food, cooked fresh! We also have a dinner series that changes throughout the year depending on the season - this does have a few more frills.
Is there really a huge difference between the veggies pulled from the plants at the farm compared to the ones you get in the big grocery stores?
K: Yes! I don’t believe people who say there isn't!
What's your favorite product from the fields at Beach Plum?
K: Tomatoes! I eat them like apples. We have so many incredible varieties here.
What are you most looking forward to rolling out this year?
K: I am excited to develop more farm-oriented programs for all of our Cape Resorts guests—there is so much happening out here that I think people miss when they come to Cape May because they only head to the beach.
Can you bike around the grounds?
K: Yes! We encourage it. Beach Plum is such a great bike ride from any of the Cape Resorts properties.
Tell us about the Cottages at Beach Plum Farm. They look dreamy.
K: Dreamy is the perfect way to describe them. Each time I stay in one I have a new favorite. They feel like coming home—if your home had been perfectly curated by a wiz of an interior stylist. The location in West Cape May is ideal. You are such a short bike ride to the beach and the center of town, but it feels entirely different out here.
What is YOUR favorite cottage among them?
K: That’s tough, but I would have to say a tie between Hill Barn and Whalers Cottage - and the houses couldn’t be more different! The Whalers Cottage dates back to the late 1700s so it has so much historic charm, but when we renovated it the house was brought into the 21st while keeping so much of that old charm. The Hill Barn is one of the new cottages raised in 2018 by the same family that built the market. It’s all wood and smells incredible.
You led the Cape Resorts Explorers Club in your previous role as director of guest experiences. How cool was that for the children of Cape Resorts to unplug and get back to nature?
K: The Explorers Club was my crowning achievement from my time at Congress Hall. It was so much fun to plan out all of the lessons. It was so exciting to see how eager the kids were to disconnect from their devices and learn in a creative environment. We did chemistry, physics, birding, hiking, animal care, art with nature, gardening. It was a busy two weeks! I am very excited to bring some of that to the farm more permanently.
How important is it for us to connect with nature?
K: It’s amazing to me how a day on the beach, in the fields or hiking offers me such a complete reset. I don’t think people connect with nature or the outside enough. To really disconnect, unplug and do a hard reset—move a little slower, and linger a little longer. The farm is such a great place to do that. ✯