Sunday, October 11, 2009

And We're Off!

I signed up for this blog back in the Spring of 2009 and intended to use it as a way to keep track of what we were growing and harvesting as well as serve as an infromational source for local farmers and organic gardening supporters.

A bit about us...

We have owned and operated Sweetleaf Farm in some form or fashion for ten years. We first started in Iuka, IL on Andy's parents land and rented a house down the road. We were ambitious, naive, and broke. We planned on growing organic vegetables and selling them at area farmer's markets, but unfortunately we were a bit ahead of the curve. St. Louis was just over an hour away, but seemed like way to far to go with the goods. So I pursued my education degree and Andy decided to get into graduate school for horticulture.

While in Missouri, pursuing our Master's degrees, we morphed Sweetleaf Organic Farm into a much smaller greens and flowers operation on a small rented farm. We even got serious and joined the ASCFG (Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers) and went to some fun and extremely informative conferences. Well worth the money to join that great organization!

By 2002, we were selling the Root Cellar in Columbia and at the Columbia Farmer's Market as well as to local florists. We had also become close friends in a short period of time with Kimberly and Walker, and Bryce and Jenny....

Perfect timing, as we decided to move when we graduated in 2003. I got a teaching job, we bought our very own small farm, and Andy farmed (with horses, still no tractor) full time. We moved about 90 miles from Columbia and continued to sell at the Farmer's Market and to the florists. About two years of commuting back and forth to Columbia was enough and we set our sites on selling in the St. Louis Area. For several years, Andy grew cut flowers and sold at Clayton Farmer's Market and to the St. Louis Area florists that were bequethed to us by our friend, Mimo Davis who retired from the business.

Well, here we are...ten years later and we have reorganized yet again. We have a 30 ft x90 ft hoop house that is unheated, that we have grown flowers, greens, and tomatoes in for the past 6 years. This fall we are once again growing greens, but will try and fill it up to capacity. In years past, half of the greenhouse was nearly unusable because it took on too much water and essentially flooded the plants. We had a local fellow move some dirt around with his fancy machinery and reroute the water, so it no longer takes on too much water.

Keep your fingers crossed, since we are hoping to make it worthwhile to pay someone to pick and weed for us. I will make the weekly or biweekly trip with the kids to Columbia and drop off the greens at the Root Cellar for them to use there or at the new Broadway Brewery. We will by no means get rich, but could provide someone with some walking money and make a little cash ourselves. We don't have the time to grow like we have in the past. We are both working more than full time already and have two small children. We can't imagine not going through a season without something growing. It also seems like such a waste to not plant anything into our greenhouse.

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