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Meet Our Farmers #2


NWPA Growers is a cooperative of farmers who raise good food using organic methods.  In the last couple of years, several of our veggie growers have left us due to various personal reasons, but that left a gaping hole in our produce offerings.  


The great news is that we have three new farms joining us this year, and three of our existing farms are increasing their veggie production.  We will be featuring one or two of our farms in each of a series of emails in the coming weeks.


This is the second installment of Meet Your Farmers. You can read the first one here.


 

Willowbrook Farms



New Grower

Established in the 1800s, Willowbrook Farms is a family owned and operated farm located in Slippery Rock.  Over the many years, we have gained experience and expertise in various aspects of agriculture and livestock.  We've dedicated our efforts to specializing in raising a selectively-bred cattle herd of shorthorn and angus cross; growing natural, healthy produce and florals for our family and yours to enjoy; and supplying our area with a production of premium-quality horse hay. At Willowbrook Farms, we care about the health and safety of our animals, produce and our customers, therefore we do not implant steroids or inject hormones into our livestock and we never spray or use harmful substances on our produce. Our free-range cattle are grass-fed and supplemented with grains and minerals to produce a naturally raised animal and our gardens are maintained with natural methods that ensure clean, safe produce for our family and yours.

Willowbrook Farms will be supplying produce and flowers to NWPA Growers.  Here's a look at their vegetable growing process:

The food we sell to you is also the food we serve to our family, so we have a personal interest in growing clean, natural produce for everyone to enjoy.

Seed Starts & Plant Sourcing

We grow roughly 90% of our plants from seed and we're striving to reach 100% within a few years. This detail is important because it is what allows us to monitor the journey from farm to table from the very beginning.

Our seed trays are all re-useable and / or recycled items. We don't like to waste anything. It's bad for the planet and it's bad for business.

Weed Control

We use straw that we grew and harvested ourselves to mulch our plants and prevent weed growth. This approach also helps to reduce water loss from evaporation, which lowers the overall water needs of our garden. We NEVER use any chemical sprays or plastic weed fabrics on our produce.

Pest Control

Our philosophy for pest control: prevention is key. We evaluate our plants several times each week to ensure we spot pests before they spread and become major issues. This approach allows us to easily and safely remediate pest issues before only a chemical spray could do the trick. If we do need specialized treatment, we use only certified organic formulas to address any unwanted garden guests.

Fertilizer

We apply all-natural fertilizer and compost in the early spring (March timeframe) to give our soil and plants a little extra boost. We do not use any store-bought, unnatural fertilizers that might risk the safety of our produce.

Harvesting

As a small, family farm, we harvest our produce by hand and with special care. Our fruits and veggies are picked and packed by hand the day before you receive them.  Much of the produce in stores (even the organic varieties) have been sitting for days or weeks before they make it into your fridge, losing important nutritional value during that time.


Willowbrook Farms will be providing fresh cut flowers, veggies, and fruits to NWPA Growers. 





 

Harmony Grove Farm


Old friends

Harmony Grove Farm is a small one-family farm practicing natural hydroponics.  Monty and Akemi, with help from Monty's mom, start over a thousand seeds every week.  Sometimes this seems like a long and tedious job, but the truth is that this is part of a miracle in farming.  Each tiny seed we put in by hand is amazingly brought into life in just a few days.  Then they start growing, eventually becoming nutritious food for us.


Monty's great-great grandfather started this farm sometime in the mid 1800s. There was a one-room school house built on the farm in 1872 that was called Harmony Grove School. Farming has been always a part of our family. We embrace the lifestyle and value the peace and quiet of living.


Now at Harmony Grove, we primarily grow lettuce and salad greens in pristine greenhouses. Growing hydroponically, we use a looped water system to control the amount of water for each plant. It's a clean system that uses 100% pure minerals and no harmful chemicals or pesticides. We practice IPM (Integrated Pest Management), which uses beneficial insects, like ladybugs, to keep populations of harmful insects at a manageable level. Here at Harmony Grove, like so many other greenhouse operations, the biggest threat is aphids, but they are no match for the thousands of ladybugs that are released at a single time!


 

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