When I opened Facebook this morning, the first thing I saw was a “Facebook memory” from 3 years ago. It was a blog post entitled “Why A Farm” and it was the first ever post on this website. (If you’re fairly new to following our farm journey, you may want to take a moment and check out why we decided to start a farm in the first place.)
With all that being said, I thought it might be of interest to share all that you, our friends and customers, helped us to accomplish in 2016:
This season marks our 3rd year as a vendor at the Hendersonville Farmers Market. Since it was our first market, we are definitely invested in it being the best market it can possibly be.
What you may, or may not know, is that we are now 1 of only 2 “producer only” farmers at the market. This means the two of us are the only vendors selling exclusively what we grow. As a result, we can tell customers exactly how something was grown, when/how it was harvested and what, if anything, has been sprayed (only organic certified in our case) on the different crops.
Unfortunately some of the other vendors try to be all things to all people. They call themselves farms, but do not grow a great majority of what they sell. Instead they go to auction houses, or regional distribution centers, to buy the produce they turn around and resell. In effect they are buying from commercial farms (probably not local) with no idea how the produce was grown. As long as they are upfront and honest about where their produce comes from, we have no complaints. We learned the first year that people wanting the least expensive “grocery store” produce, with no concern for where or how it was grown, are not our customers. Where we have an issue is when someone is less than honest about where their produce comes from. We feel this hurts the credibility of the market and places those of us who are selling only what we grow at a significant disadvantage.
When visiting a farmers market, whether it’s the HFM or another market, don’t be afraid to ask questions of the farmer before buying. How was it grown? Can we come and visit the farm? When did you harvest this? These are all valid questions and ones we enjoy answering, as we love talking about what we do and how we do it. In addition, be aware of what produce is in season here in Middle TN. If you don’t see it at a producer only vendor’s booth, chances are pretty good it was trucked in and not from around here.
We believe strongly in our slogan, “know your farmer, know your food” and think you do as well. Just know we appreciate you guys and love working hard to provide you and your families with healthy, all-natural produce!
As someone new to “commercial” farming, I must admit I did not know a lot about GMOs when we launched our farm last year. However, over the past year I’ve learned enough to realize the use of GMOs is a very complex issue, with the discussion driven by passionate people on both sides who know a lot more about science than I ever will.
For those who may not know, GMO stands for genetically modified organism.
Dictionary.com defines a GMO as "an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there. Note: a higher percentage of food crops such as corn and soybeans are genetically modified."
Basically it’s inserting genes from one organism into another in order to accomplish a desired outcome in the host organism.
My intent with this post is not to try and persuade you to believe one way or the other, but to simply raise awareness. I want to encourage you to do your own research and make your decisions based on what you believe is best for you and your family. To help kick start the education process, here are 3 links I would suggest you read:
Here at Hill Family Farm, we are big supporters of the “eat fresh, eat local” mantra. When you eat fresh, locally grown produce you’re not only getting healthy, great-tasting food, but you’re also helping support a local farmer and your local economy. Definitely a win/win!
To take the eat fresh, eat local concept a step further, have you considered growing some of your own vegetables? Don’t get me wrong, we definitely want you buying fresh chicken, eggs and produce from us! However, we also want to encourage you to give growing some of your own a go. It’s not that hard and it can be a great family activity.
An easy way to get into vegetable gardening is by using raised beds. Do you have a relatively flat area in your yard that gets at least 6 hours of direct sun? If so, then you can put in a raised bed and start growing tomatoes, squash, green beans or whatever vegetables are your family’s favorites.
Raised beds offer numerous advantages over traditional gardens. Here are just a few:
Building your own not your thing? No worries! A simple Google search of raised bed gardening will make your head spin with options. Want to avoid the shipping charges? Check out your neighborhood Lowe’s, Home Depot or Walmart. They all sell raised beds kits of various sizes/prices that you take out of the box and assemble in your yard. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention you can buy 3’x6′ raised cedar beds from us. (If interested, just shoot me an email for more information.)
Once your beds are set up, the most critical step is selecting the soil to fill them with. Just filling them with bags of top soil is not the answer, as top soil has very little in the way of plant nutrients. It needs to be a combination of top soil, compost, manure, sand and organic matter. I’ve tried mixing this myself and have had so-so results. If you live in the Nashville area, I recommend you check out Holy Cow Garden Mix. I’ve used it in the past and it’s hard to beat. Open the bags, pour it in and start planting. It’s that easy!
Hopefully reading this post will be the gentle nudge you needed to start your own raised bed garden. Give it a shot and let us know how it goes!