When we purchased the land in 1994 where Orchard Hill Organics Farms stands today, we didn’t really have an intention of developing a commercial farm as much as we did in creating an orchard and farm for personal use.
We’re not certified, and we have no plans to become organically certified though we do support the process. We simply see a farm our size as being more about the community than about building a business venture. Long before we ever grew for other people, we grew food for ourselves, even though we quickly realized we had more food than we could possibly consume on our own and enjoyed giving it away to friends and neighbors.
Thus, all the decisions about what we planted were made based on what would be nutritious and fun for our family and would harvest at different times throughout the year. At some point in 2003, a patient said he had been to friend’s home in Italy where there was something homegrown and organic to be harvested 365 days a year.
When I heard that, it solidified our thinking and we began to fill in the gaps so that there would be produce as readily available in January as there was in June. After the fall harvest of pears and apples, we had persimmon trees yielding in December and brussel sprouts into January, needing only to fill the gap in the February – March period.
We soon realized that by creating a non-heated, single layer greenhouse, we could choose certain varieties of vegetables that could be grown and harvested throughout the entire winter and today, we can say that there is always something available fresh from the farm 356 days a year!