The rear Idyllwild Farm acreage, located behind the convent, is comprised of heavy, Kentucky clay-based soil. Mike Hass and I discussed some of what Idyllwild Farm grows, and how those crops are seasonally grown and biennially rotated; however, I’m certain the list I can name is not exhaustive. I saw baby bok choy, salad green mix, turnips, spinach, kale, garlic, arugula, tomatoes, carrots and strawberries (plants).
Some crops are grown in hoop houses, a form of greenhouse. They’re semi-circular metal frames covered with a heavy-gauge plastic that protects the plants. Four-season growing means that plant selection at this time of the year is critical. Plants that have enough sugar in their cells to withstand freezing or sub-freezing temperatures can rebound; others cannot. Cover-cropping the plants with organic material is another protective and insulating measure.
Mike and I continued to talk about organic practice. I learned other interesting features of how a farm maintains its organic certification. A yearly application includes documenting cultural practices, product fertility and handling. An annual physical third-party inspection is also a part of USDA organic certification. It’s a critical evaluation that also includes suggestions for improvement of growing practices.
Idyllwild Farm doesn’t use electricity or irrigation in its farming. I learned that the St Anne Convent uses an old geo-thermal system for heating and cooling and, while the pump utilizes water from the Ohio River acquifer, it actually then drains pure water into the creek on the property. So, Idyllwild tanks it for use on the farm.
It seems organic farming is a delicate balance of implementing rigorous practice with hard work, while forecasting and planning several seasons ahead. I look forward to reconnecting with Mike and Kate as the seasons progress and they bring product to market. I’m a very big supporter; however, I suspect I might be their #2 fan, behind Sedona.
Find Idyllwild produce at the Northside Farmers Market on Wed from 4:00-7:00 at the North Presbyterian Church on Hamilton Ave, and at Findlay on Sat from 8:00 am – 2:00 pm.
Idyllwild Farm, St Anne Convent Grounds, Route 8, Melbourne, KY 41059, 740.475.9157