A Novice’s Introduction to Organic Farming: Idyllwild Farm

I’m a visual girl, and I love the physical beauty of organic winter greens.  They’re strong and plentiful in this season and grow well through the end of Nov and into Dec, even as the seasons transition.

It’s my view that there is no comparison in depth of color, texture and taste between locally-sourced organic produce and large commercial producers’ greens.  Come to your own conclusion on this topic by doing a taste comparison, raw or cooked.

Having talked at Findlay Market with Mike and Kate Hass of Idyllwild Farm, I decided to pay a visit to get a better understanding of organic growing practices and certification, and to again satisfy my desire to look at and photograph beautiful produce.

Mike and Kate have two certified-organic acres on the sprawling St Anne Convent property on the Ohio River in Melbourne, KY.  A previous post reminded you of St Anne as the residence called Walbrook of Dustin Hoffman’s character, Raymond, in the movie, Rainman.  Mike and Kates’ canine compadre is named Sedona, and she’s, undoubtedly, Daddy’s Girl.

Kate and Mike were planting garlic in the front field when I arrived.  Because of its proximity to the Ohio River, the soil in the front field is light, rich, wind-blown soil from the flood plain, and is more conducive to root crops and carrots.

Mike began farming organically 20 years ago with his family in Connecticut, and is well-acquainted with organic farming practice.  I’m a novice (no novitiate pun, intended) of the actual requirements of certified organic ground so this was an interesting learning experience.  It turns out that a fundamental requirement of certified-organic land is that it be free of pesticides and herbicides for a minimum of three years.  In the case of Idyllwild Farm and, perhaps, more specifically, St Anne Convent, the land had been in pasture for more than 20 years, so that piece could be easily validated.  Organic farmers must make ongoing evaluations and decisions about other farming practices (certified-organic composting materials, water sources, etc) as they will need to be rigorously supported to maintain the certification.

So, after I met Mike and Kate, Mike took me to the back fields where the larger part of the farm is located.  The conversation (and education) continues.

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