Once a year New Leaf Market Co-op puts together groups of local farmers that offer the opportunity for the community to come out and tour their farms, get to know their farming practices and sometimes to try and pick current available crops.
Last weekend, I was excited to be able to squeeze in a field trip to one of my favorite local farms, Orchard Pond Organics, with my friend and Badass Fitness owner, Shannon Colavecchio. (Here she is on the right cradling a monster sweet potato. This picture makes me laugh every time I see it!)
Located in the Red Hills region north of Tallahassee off Meridian Road, Orchard Pond Organics is a 100 acre farm that only farms about 7 acres at a time and offers locally grown produce, grass-fed beef products and local Tupelo Honey all with sustainable practices (Sustainable definition in general terms means, to live within your environmental limits).
They also sell their products online through the Red Hills Online Farmers Market, the Wednesday Farmers Market at Lake Ella and at the Saturday morning Farmers Market at Market Square. Check out my Go Local Farmers Market blog from a few weeks ago for details. Orchard Pond Organics offers a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Share which you can buy into and pick up your selected share at the weekly Farmers Markets in Tallahassee. Go to their CSA page to get the current share prices.
Interested in farming your own garden but don’t have the location for it? This farm offers Family Garden Plots which can be rented monthly and for just $20 per month. For your $20, you get a 50′ x 30′ plot right on their farm, tilled with water and a spigot free of charge, and the piece of mind that there is no pesticides, herbicides or GMO’s in your soil (nor do they allow them to be used on the farm). Not sure about what to plant or how to farm your garden? You can volunteer to work the farm and get some inside information on best practices and tips from the farmers themselves and to get the best of your Family Garden Plot.
On our field trip, we were able to harvest some of the remaining okra crop, hands on (itchy I might add) along with their purchase offerings of other items that had been freshly picked that day like Monster Sweet Potatoes (these things were HUGE!!), eggplant, peas, ginger, cabbage and some greens all at a reasonable price and a piece of mind that you are getting a quality product. One thing we were given the opportunity to smell on the tour was Lime Basil, truly a divine smell. I will be purchasing this if I see it come up on the Online Market or if they offer it at the weekly Farmers Markets.
While we were there, one of the farm employees cooked a batch of Jambalaya using some local ingredients, sausage and chicken and offered samples to the touring public for free. While I’m not a big rice eater these days, I did give it a try and it was really tasty! Cooked right there on the farm in a big kettle which looked like a boiling caldron over an open flame and a sweet surprise, she had some sweet potatoes roasting underneath. D-E-L-I-S-H!
In my humble foodie opinion getting out and getting to know your local farmers not only helps the locals keep their farms going for quality products, it also allows you to prepare more quality ingredients for you and your family which may help you and your overall health. These farms only grow what is in season and make sure that they are using the most sustainable practices so that their farms can continue to produce the highest quality ingredients to you at a reasonable price. While talking with one of the farmers, we were told that at least seven local restaurants have started ordering from them for their menus. The local food movement only happens when you, the consumer, insist on it!
Miss out on this year’s Annual Farm Tour? Check back with New Leaf Market’s online calendar and get online and see what local farms are near you and contact them. Some farms offer small guided tours when contacted and scheduled ahead of time. They love to tell you about their practices and why the choose to farm the way they farm. Some of these farms also offer a mailing list which will let you know what will be offered at the market or what you may pre-order to pick up at the market, which I have had the privilege of enjoying some amazing grass-fed Black Angus Beef the past month from another favorite local farm.
Interested in getting more information about Orchard Pond Organics? Contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or about the CSA program at email@example.com to request more information or head out to the local weekly Farmers Markets and talk with them in person. They love to see the community excited about local eating and local farming! Get out there and #eatlocal!
All photos by Tambra Means ~ www.gingermantra.com